UK ‘breaking child asylum rules’

By staff

The government has been accused of flouting guidelines on child asylum seekers, according to an immigrant rights charity.

UK Border Agency staff “routinely” deny children access to legal advice, who are regularly incarcerated in the UK.

The government introduced a code of practice two months ago to ensure the welfare of child asylum seekers.

But the Refugee and Migrant Justice report, ‘Does Every Child Matter?’, documents specific cases in which the guidelines have been ignored.

But the UK Border Agency said it rejected “the vast majority” of the report.
“Whenever we take decisions involving children, their welfare comes first. That’s why we have transformed our children’s policy, enshrining in law a commitment to protect youngsters and keep them safe from harm,” said a spokesman.

“When the independent courts find a family has no need for protection, we expect them to return home.

“We would much prefer it if they did this voluntarily – enforced removals are very much a last resort.”

One case highlighted in the report sees an eight-year-old boy given no legal assistance with his asylum application despite having fled his home after it was destroyed in fighting. His claim was eventually refused.

Refugee and Migrant Justice chief executive Caroline Slocock said: “We welcome the government’s genuine aspiration to keep children seeking asylum safe from harm but this report shows it has a long way to go.

“Not only are there real gaps in the government’s code but, even where its provisions are good, they are routinely being flouted.”

Over 7,000 asylum-seeking children arrive in the UK every year.