Refugee children in British privatized jails

Asylum seekers and their families marching against deportations from Britain

By Alida Alisis in Britain:

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


BACK in March, almost a year after the government had promised to end what Nick Clegg called the ‘shameful practice’ of locking up asylum seeking families in conditions known to harm their mental health, Barnardo’s stunned children’s advocates by revealing that it had agreed to work with the UK Border Agency and security giant G4S at the new immigration detention centre for families with children at Pease Pottage near Gatwick that’s opening later this Summer.

Frances Webber, vice chair of the Institute of Race Relations, accused Barnardo’s — Britain’s biggest children’s charity — of providing ‘a cloak of legitimacy to the continued detention of children’. Former children’s commissioner for England and internationally renowned paediatrican Sir Al Aynsley-Green wrote in OurKingdom that this ‘worrying development’ sparked the question: ‘Are the big children’s organisations effective advocates for children, or are they friends of government?’

Stung by such criticism Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie last month made comments widely reported as a tough-talking ‘ultimatum’ to UKBA, saying the charity would pull out of the working partnership if children and families were not treated properly. But can we trust Barnardo’s to stand up to the government?

We, being students and members of SOAS Detainee Support who visit immigration detainees and offer them support, have campaigned hard against child detention. In May last year we picketed G4S’s annual meeting, argued with the company’s chief executive Nick Buckles (who, by the way, is paid almost £5000 every day), and landed a picture in the Daily Telegraph’s city pages. In June last year, we ran the Release Carnival, bringing together campaigners and child refugees to march on Downing Street.

When this past March Barnardo’s threw in its lot with Nick Buckles and the UK Border Agency we felt utterly dismayed, let down, betrayed. When we visited Barnardo’s HQ at Barkingside in Essex to express our disappointment. We were sent away and told to study Barnardo’s website so we’d understand what they were doing. We read. It still looked wrong. We made a second visit, intending to distribute a leaflet outlining our objections to staff as they left work. Barnardo’s diverted workers to a rear exit.

USA: In a July 2006 article for The Progressive, the late Howard Zinn provides a context for today’s immigration reform debate by tracing the history of how we’ve treated foreign-born people in this country since the Revolutionary War.

Australian High Court overrules refugee “Malaysia solution”: here.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced that she would introduce legislation into parliament next week aimed at circumventing a High Court ruling that struck down the proposed deportation of hundreds of asylum seekers to Malaysia: here.

End Child Detention Now campaigners have welcomed the launch of the International Detention Coalition’s Global report and campaign to end immigration detention of children: here.

A new report by an international research body has called for detention of refugee children to be outlawed and for all countries to “ensure the rights and liberty” of children affected by immigration detention. Australian immigration detention figures released on March 25 showed that even after the federal government “completes” transferring children to “community detention”, hundreds of underage asylum seekers will stay in immigration detention centres: here.

8 thoughts on “Refugee children in British privatized jails

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