End child immigrant detention centres now
Children in detention while families deported or seek asylum are victims of state sanctioned neglect, study says
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Tuesday, 13, Oct 2009 10:38
By Matthew Champion.
Children put into detention while their families are deported or seek asylum are victims of state sanctioned neglect, a groundbreaking report said on Tuesday.
Research published in Child Abuse and Neglect the International Journal said children detained in this way were "vulnerable, marginalised, and at risk of mental and physical harm".
In the first study of its kind a team of international researchers examined the effect of detention to the mental and physical health of 24 children at Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
They found extensive evidence of deterioration in their health as a result of being detained.
"Clinicians have not just an ethical responsibility but also an important role to play in acting as advocates for vulnerable populations," the researchers wrote.
"Health commissioners, professional bodies, and practitioners in the UK therefore have an ethical duty to respond to these findings by ensuring that a comprehensive prospective study into the mental and physical wellbeing of children in detention is conducted and to advocate for review of the current UK detention policy as a matter of urgency."
The Refugee Council said it found the research "harrowing".
Donna Covey, chief executive of the council, said the report highlighted how harmful detaining children could be.
"It surely puts the evidence beyond doubt: immigration detention should only be used as a last resort, and children should never be detained," she said.
"The government must act to end this practice immediately."
Lorek, A., et al. The mental and physical health difficulties of children held within a British immigration detention centre: A pilot study. Child Abuse & Neglect