Government told to reduce detention of child asylum seekers

An influential group of MPs has told the government child asylum
seekers should only be detained for short periods,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Detention of children should only be allowed immediately prior
to their removal from the country or where it is likely that
otherwise the family would abscond.

The home affairs select committee said: “We believe that
the welfare of the child should be paramount, and that separation
of a child of an asylum seeker from both parents by removal is
nearly always unjustified.”

The dramatic growth in the numbers of people seeking refuge in
Britain is “unsustainable”, and if allowed to continue
unchecked could result in social unrest, a new report on asylum
removals from the committee said.

It could also lead to a growing political backlash which will in
turn lead to the election of extremist parties with extreme

There is a pressing need for more accurate statistics, the
committee urged. It is very difficult to address the problem of
over-staying failed asylum seekers effectively in the absence of
reliable statistics.

Enforced removals need to be carried out more rapidly,
effectively and humanely, the report said,  and added that if
targets are necessary for removals, they should be “rational
and achievable”.

The committee believes that detention of asylum seekers can be
justified where there are reasonable grounds to suspect the
individual will abscond or engage in criminal activities.

However, the greatest scope for improving the credibility of the
asylum system lies with reducing the number of applicants and the
more efficient processing of new applications. These topics will be
considered in the committee’s next inquiry.

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