In response to Nick Clegg’s announcement today that the government will end the detention of children for immigration purposes by May 2011, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“We have long campaigned for an end to child detention, so we are very pleased the government has finally committed to a date to end this abhorrent and harmful practice once and for all. It is also encouraging that the government has recognised children’s needs and rights must always be prioritised over concerns for our borders. We do, however, hope that children will stop being held in immigration removal centres well before the new deadline of May.
“Only time will tell if the new arrangements for removing families not allowed to stay here will be successfully and humanely carried out. Supporting families from the beginning of the process to ensure the right decisions are made on each case should still be a priority, and the government’s welcome asylum improvement project should help that. Only then will we rest assured that families seeking safety here are being given the protection they need, and those not allowed to stay are being treated with dignity until they can safely be returned to their own countries.”