Row on asylum children detention

By Mark Hannaby

March 8, 2009 / BBC News

The UK government's treatment of the children of asylum seekers in detention is 'abusive' and 'dehumanising', it has been claimed.

The chief executive of the Welsh Refugee Council said the government was in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mike Lewis said that children are often split from their parents.

But the UK Border Agency denied the claims and said it did not recognise the description of how it worked.

Referring to early morning removals of families from their homes, Mr Lewis said: "For us the trauma of that experience is pretty... I would use the word abusive actually, because I don't think its done from a child-centred way and shouldn't be happening in the UK."

The Welsh Refugee Council has said children are sometimes separated from their parents in the process of a journey of several hours to a detention centres in England.

Mr Lewis said: "They don't know where mummy and daddy are sometimes. And these are quite young children.

"We're not talking about 15 year olds. We're talking about three and four year olds, babies even.

"We've got stories of children who haven't been fed all day in this process.

"They then go into these places where they could be there for months while their claims are sorted out. I don't think you could make it any more dehumanising really".

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that detention shall only be used as a last resort for the shortest appropriate period of time.

[A more complete version of this story can be found in the video featured on the BBC page, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7930973.stm ]

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