One the issues we have been focused on recently is the campaign to End Child Detention.
Here are the facts:
- Asylum seekers are often kept in detention, despite the fact that claiming asylum is not a crime.
- At the end of 2012, there were 2,685 people in detention, a figure 11% higher than the number recorded at the end of 2011.
- 99 children entered detention in 2011, of which 64 were asylum detainees.
- Child detention increased from 2011 levels in 2012, primarily due to the increased use of Cedars pre-departure accommodation facility. Between October and December 2012, 61 children entered detention, although it is not clear if all of those were asylum detainees.
Detention, even for a very short period of time, can cause long lasting damage and is unnecessary for children and families. According to Dr. Madelyn Hicks, psychiatrist, who spoke at the launch of the Campaign to End the Immigration Detention of Children, on 21 March 2012 at the UN Human Rights Council, “Substantial evidence shows that detention, even for short periods, can seriously damage the mental health and development of children – from infancy through teenage years”.
Children have been recorded as having “increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison”, also experiencing weight loss, headaches and tummy pains, clinical depression and anxiety, trouble sleeping, and older children being so stressed they wet their beds and soil their pants.
The body searches, the photographing and the fingerprinting of the children, the roll calls, the ID cards they have to carry at all times, the ten locked doors between freedom and the family centre, the steep deterioration in parents’ mental health and parenting abilities, the self-harm and the suicide attempts all mean that detention centres are not healthy or appropriate places for children.
Therefore, STAR has been trying to change the systems and regulations that mean children can be held in detention. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have said that locking up children for immigration purposes was a ‘scandal’ and ‘a moral outrage’, and promised to end child detention.
If you would like to send a postcard to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister reminding them of their promise to end child detention, then visit http://ecdn.org/keep-your-promise/ to download one.
Information taken from: