MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington &
Shadow Home Secretary
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Supporting child migrants rights
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Speaking at a meeting to launch a report into immigration removals
There have been a number of shocking reports concerning the situation of child migrants living in this country. I see a lot of children and young people who come to my advice surgery, on their own or with their parents, and who are in desperate need of help. These children are often confused about their rights, and some have been mistreated by the Home Office or other authorities in this country. It seems that often it is forgotten that these are children first, and immigrants second.
I tabled two Early Day Motions illustrating different ways in which the rights of child migrants are violated in the UK. In May 2009 I tabled a motion calling on the government to change its approach to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Currently, the government has opted out of certain parts of the Convention meaning that migrant children in this country are not afforded the same rights as all other children by law. I believe this is wrong as whatever nationality, race or religion children are they are children first and immigrants second. Then in June I tabled a motion regarding the age determination process that unaccompanied child migrants must go through when applying for residency. There have been many reports suggesting that this process is carried out in an insensitive and inaccurate and leads to many under-18s being treated as adults when they really need someone to look after them.
In February 2010 I continued the campaign against child detention by participating in a debate on the Yarl's Wood detention facility where I condemned the treatment of all migrants there, particularly the children. Healthcare was an issue I drew particular attention to, as it is well documented that detainees especially female detainees, have very little confidence in the standard of healthcare on offer. Prior to this debate I had tabled an early day motion highlighting the harmful psychological effects of child detention and also highlighting the excessive length of time some child detainees have been held for.
I have also been very concerned about the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the summer the Home Office returned a number of immigrants to the DRC but it is not clear if the country is yet safe for these returns. There have been reports of the rape and abuse of women and children who have been returned there. An Early Day Motion I tabled asking the government not to return any more people to the DRC until we could be sure it was safe was supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
I am now keen to extend my work on child migrants in the UK by continuing to raise awareness of this important issue and by pressing Ministers to change their approach to children and immigration.
I am disappointed that the Coalition government has decided to postpone its decision to close family wings in detention centres until at least March 2011. I believe we need to end detention sooner rather than later.
© Copyright 2017 Diane Abbott. All Rights Reserved.
Diane Abbott Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington