Aynsley-Green criticises manner of detention of asylum-seeking children

The children’s commissioner for England spoke out at the conference against the way in which failed asylum-seeking families are taken into detention.

Al Aynsley-Green said that, according to the cases he had been told about, the manner in which families were detained “appeared to be heavy handed”.

His comments add weight to calls made by his counterpart in Scotland, Kathleen Marshall, to end the practice of immigration officers picking up failed asylum-seeking families from their homes with no notice in the early hours of the morning.

Aynsley-Green said: “Some children tell me they lie awake at night waiting for the knock on the door.”Al Aynsley-Green new

He said that he had written to the Home Office about the issue and was due to meet with ministers soon.

He also called for asylum-seeking children to be covered by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although the government has signed up to the set of policies, it has inserted a clause stating that immigration law takes precedence over the convention.

And he asked delegates to put a copy of the convention on their desks to ensure children’s rights were foremost in their minds.

He urged that asylum-seeking children be treated as children and suggested that guardians could be appointed to advocate on their behalf.

And he said he was working with the Refugee Council on children’s experiences of the asylum process.

The commissioner also questioned whether antisocial behaviour orders were “always useful” and said they could sometimes be “just a sticking plaster” over deeper problems.

He said he was aware of a child with autism who received an Asbo and said this did not represent an understanding of their needs. “The implications of a child breaching an Asbo could be life-long,” he added.

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