Conference notes with concern that:
i) Around 2,000 children are detained at Yarl’s Wood detention centre and elsewhere in the UK each year, for an average of two weeks.
ii) In June 470 children, most of them under five, were being held in detention centres, and a third were held for longer than 28 days.
iii) Children are not just detained immediately before they are removed from the UK Ð 889 children have been held in detention centres for longer than a month during the last five years and a large proportion of detained children are eventually released.
iv) Conditions in detention centres cannot be monitored by campaigners and have been described as ‘prison-like’.
v) Medical Royal Colleges, children’s groups and refugee groups are united in their condemnation of this practice and of the detrimental effect it has on young minds and bodies.
vi) In 2009, the Children’s Commissioner raised serious concerns about the nutrition and healthcare children and nursing mothers receive in detention centres and called for the immediate end to the detention of children.
Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:
a) Creating an immigration system that is firm but fair.
b) The humane treatment of all children, regardless of their immigration status.
c) The British tradition of open-heartedness and generosity to those most in need.
d) This country’s proud history of providing sanctuary to the world’s persecuted.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. The immediate end to the detention of children under 18 in immigration detention centres.
2. The incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law.
3. Alternative systems such as electronic tagging, stringent reporting requirements and residence restrictions to be used on adults in families considered high flight risks.
4. The long-term development of alternative methods of securing compliance with immigration decisions, such as those found in Sweden, Canada and Australia.
5. Responsibility for the asylum system to be taken away from the Home Office and given to a Canadian-style independent agency.
Wed, 10 Mar 2010