High Court ruling on asylum-seeking children welcomed

Campaigners calling for an end to the government’s policy of removing asylum-seeking children from the UK without notice have welcomed a landmark High Court ruling.

At a judicial review last week, Mr Justice Collins challenged the legality of the government’s treatment of vulnerable children when he ruled that removing child asylum seekers without the 72 hours’ notice given to adults was unlawful.

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at the Children’s Society, said the ruling was significant because “courts will now have to decide whether children should be removed and, if they are, what the government must put in place to protect them in other EU countries”.

Caroline Slocock, chief executive of Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), told Community Care: “The decision was a measure of the judge’s grave concerns and desire for UK Border Agency policy to be changed immediately.”

The High Court case involved two unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who faced removal under the Dublin Convention, which allows unaccompanied children to be removed to other EU countries if it is shown that they claimed asylum there first.

One child was detained by immigration officers in the middle of the night, before being flown to Italy and held in a police cell for several hours.

The second child, who had been handcuffed and taken to the airport from her foster home, was stopped after managing to contact her solicitor.

Home Office policy provides most asylum-seekers with 72 hours notice of their removal, apart from children and people at a suicide risk.

“The court has given as clear a signal as possible that giving no notice of removal for children is unlawful,” Slocock said.

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