Letter to Jack Straw Secretary of State for Justice – 1 April 2010

To Jack Straw, from the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain:

We are writing on behalf of Meeting for Sufferings, our national representative body, to express our dismay at the continued detention of children who are subject to immigration control in Britain. We remain deeply concerned at what amounts to the imprisonment of children despite very clear UNCHR guidance that young people should not be subject to immigration detention. We do not consider that this practice reflects the humane values of this country or corresponds to any proper understanding of the rule of law.

We urge you  to reconsider your current policy in the light of the recent report of Sir Al Aynsley-Green the Children`s Commissioner, the overwhelming evidence offered by the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists, Paediatricians and GPs in their recent report of the harmful effects of such detention and the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers on Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre that sharply criticised the detention of children. We draw to your attention the findings of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights that “detention centres are prison like” and the Home Office Select Committee`s finding that “present practice is unacceptable.”

In the light of these reports, we would like to know what changes you have made or are planning in the way children are taken from their homes and transported to detention and the efforts made to ensure their well-being while they are detained.

We would also like you to clarify, in particular, what action the UK Government will be taking in the light of the recent judgment in the European Court of Human Rights in the case of ‘Muskhadzhiyeva’ where it was found that the detention of children in Belgium was unlawful.

Susan Seymour, Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings

Gillian Ashmore, Recording Clerk