By Sam Barratt ; July 22, 2016
The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government for slipping out an announcement that Cedars pre-departure accommodation is to close.
It raises the prospect of children once again being held in immigration detention centres – a practice ended by the Liberal Democrats in Government.
Liberal Democrats in Coalition established the centre to end the detention of children, and the Conservatives have used the final day of the Parliamentary session to reverse the move.
Prior to 2010, thousands of children were being detained in prison-like conditions. During Labour’s last 5 years in government, over 7,000 innocent children were held in adult detention centres, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.
The establishment of the centre was driven by Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg and following the news of its closure the Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary have set out 10 questions the government must answer.
Aside from scrapping the centre the Conservatives have failed to offer any assurances on what will replace it, the emotional support that vulnerable children will be given or any preparations that will be made for them ahead of their return to a country that many of them may not even remember.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Alistair Carmichael said:
“Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was one of the first priorities of Liberal Democrats in government. It is the mark of our society how we treat the most vulnerable and it is disgusting that the Conservatives are now rolling back such an important measure.
“It is outrageous they slipped out this announcement on the last day of Parliamentary business, and they must now set out what exactly is going to happen to children in the future. We cannot have a return to the days of children being locked up in immigration detention centres, as happened under Labour. The Government has a lot of questions that remained unanswered.”
Chair of Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, who has visited Cedars, and been part of an Independent Monitoring Board until the change of Government last year said:
“Cedars provided an oasis of care and calm at a very traumatic time for those families with children who very sadly were being sent against their will back to their country of origin. Children should never have to be behind the locked doors of a detention centre, and our Government should be ashamed of such a backward step.”