Friday, February 17, 2012

UK: Compensation for child migrants detained as adults

Good and bad news out the UK today as we learn of  major victory in a case brought against the Home Office on behalf of a class of 40 unaccompanied minors. The children were allegedly compensated 2 million pounds- the biggest single payout for an immigration case in UK history, according to the Guardian. So what did the government do to have to pay such a major settlement?

The case apparently involved "age disputed" asylum seekers-  unaccompanied minors that do not have proof of age, and therefore hover between two types of asylum services- those "appropriate" (at least under international law) for adults, and those for children. Normally those children are assessed by social workers who use a variety of factors. However, the problem seems to be that, rather than being given the benefit of the doubt, children were presumed over 18 until being able to produce evidence, and therefore detained at length awaiting proof.
Some of the children were locked up for more than a month. One boy was moved around the country and held in seven different adult centres including Dover, Campsfield and Harmondsworth during his 74-day detention. "I cried myself to sleep every night," he said. "Nobody explained what was going on and I never knew what was going to happen to me when I woke up the next morning."
The case was settled in 2010, but it took a FOIA request by the Guardian to get the information released publicly. 

The bad news? Despite the payout, the practice allegedly continues, bringing to light one of the problems with settling. (Gotta get that precedent, people!) Does this mean we have similar cases on the horizon? Or perhaps at the ECtHR?

£2m paid out over child asylum seekers illegally detained as adults

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