Two year old Sidhaant, who has been imprisoned at Oakington Immigration Reception Centre for 54 days, will more than likely spend his festive season in harmful detention. Sidhaant is mentally and physically suffering from his long experience of detention and has been repeatedly in need of what limited medical attention is available at the centre. There has been a recognised viral outbreak at the prison for some time now with inmates suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. Sidhaant has been unable to digest food properly, has suffered from the viral outbreak, and has been losing weight. One doctor told the parents that if they came to him under normal circumstances he would recommend they take their son to a hospital to be seen by a paediatrician and undergo the necessary tests to ensure his recovery. The doctor also told the family that, as they are prisoners, he was unable to insist on this treatment.
On Thursday 16th December the Hon Charles Vaudin D'Imecourt, the adjudicator at the bail hearing of Sidhaant and his parents, assured the family that their child would be better off in prison than outside, as part of his dismissal of the bail application.
This decision completely ignores the recently released Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) Report on Oakington. "It remains our view that the detention of children should be exceptional, and only for very short periods," said prisons inspector Anne Owers.
“Detaining children for uncertain periods is potentially damaging to their well-being, as the Chief Inspector of Prisons points out. A child’s concept of time is very different from an adult’s, and a week will seem very much longer to a child. Therefore, detaining children for a week, or in some cases far longer, can have an adverse impact on them, and be harmful to their development. We believe that it is not appropriate to detain children, but should the Home Office do so, they must follow all precautions to safeguard that child’s health and well-being.”Despite immigration minister Des Browne's claim that the immigration service took concerns about children seriously, Sidhaant has been locked up for 54 days, is ill and can't see a pediatrician, and will probably spend Christmas behind barbed-wire fences.
Information for editors:ONE:
To contact the family:
Anoop, Monica and Sidhaant Arora
Phone: (01954) 783000
TWO: Read an account of the family's experience: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/cambridge/2004/12/302982.html.
THREE: Oakington Reception centre is used for families whose asylum applications are being fast-tracked; whilst the Home Office refers to it as a reception centre, people are nonetheless held there under detention powers.
FOUR: Children of asylum-seeking families can be detained, subject to the detention of one or both of their parents, and be held indefinitely in a 'removal centre' (named 'detention centre' until 2002). Dungavel, Oakington and Tinsley House currently have facilities to detain families. This practice is likely to increase with Yarls Wood re-opening to accommodate families in 2005.
FIVE: The HMIP report on Oakington was published on the 9th November 2004. For information about HMIP inspections, visit the Home Office's HMIP website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/justice/prisons/inspprisons/index.html.
SIX: Read the Refugee Council's press release: Prisons inspector's report raises concerns over detention of children http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/news/nov04/relea183.htm
SEVEN: Read a press release from Bail for Immigration Detainees: http://www.biduk.org/pdf/press/bid_press_release_oakington_children_8_11_04.pdf (BID) on the HMIP report.
EIGHT: Read coverage of the report on BBCi: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3993227.stm
NINE: Read the Refugee Council's paper on Children in Detention: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/downloads/policy_briefings/child_detention_nov03.pdf (PDF document).
TEN: This Press Release is also at: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/cambridge/2004/12/303008.html
ELEVEN: Contact Brett on (01223) 364599 for further information.
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