Campaigners welcome end to child detention announced in Queen's Speech

By staff writers
May 27, 2010

The organisation which secured a pledge by David Cameron to end child detention, has said it is looking forward to helping the government put alternatives in place.

Three days before the election, David Cameron told the 2,500-strong Citizens UK General Election Assembly: “It is not acceptable what happens at the moment [child detention], not acceptable at all. We will look at it closely and I will make sure that Citizens UK is part of that process.”

Cameron’s pledge came after a meeting between Citizens UK leaders and the Conservative Party leader’s aides a few days earlier. This followed the year-long Sanctuary Pledge campaign, supported by eighteen faith and civil society institutions, which convinced local prospective parliamentary candidates to support policies to end the detention of children and families for immigration purposes.

The Liberal Democrats, who also pledged to end child detention at the Citizens UK assembly, were persuaded to include this commitment in their manifesto by a delegation of leaders from Citizens UK and the Sanctuary Pledge campaign at their party conference in 2009.

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green MP, recently promised to end the detention of children within months and has announced a wide-ranging review.

Jonathan Cox, who led Citizens UK's Sanctuary Pledge campaign, said: “We are delighted that the coalition government is fulfilling the promise that David Cameron made to us on May 3rd. We look forward to working with the government as part of its working party to ensure that the new policy is family-friendly and results, as swiftly as possible, in the release of captive children. There are many alternatives to child detention. The important thing is that the solution matches the different circumstances of each family. What we need to avoid is a bureaucratic ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer which would create new problems.”

[Ekk/2]

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