Independent Asylum Commission urges end to detention of children

The Independent Asylum Commission yesterday called for an end to the detention of all child asylum seekers by the government.

In Deserving Dignity, the last of a series of reports on the asylum system, the commission argued that detention was not necessary for the majority of asylum seekers and that it should never be used for children or pregnant women.

The report also recommended a “swift implementation” of guardianship schemes for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, with the appointment of named individuals to safeguard their best interests.

2,000 children detained every year

An estimated 2,000 children of asylum seekers are detained in the UK every year. An opinion poll, released by the commission alongside the report, found that 53% of the public agreed that children should not be subjected to asylum detention.

Commissioners also warned that the needs of asylum seekers with “additional vulnerabilities”, such as people with disabilities and torture victims, were not being adequately recognised by the UK Border Agency.

Commission co-chair Sir John Waite, a former High Court judge and past chair of Unicef UK, said: “The public rightly expects fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers, befitting of a civilised society. Our review has found that there is a considerable distance to travel until the reality of how we treat women, children and torture survivors who seek sanctuary in the UK matches that aspiration.”

The Commission was launched in 2006 by charity the Citizen Organising Foundation  to carry out an independent inquiry into national asylum policy. The latest report makes more than 90 recommendations to improve the way the UK Border Agency deals with people seeking sanctuary.

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Commission finds UK asylum system falls below civilised standards
Expert guide to services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

More information

The Citizen Organising Foundation

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