Fair Play for Children News — Children in the World & Society — SPECIAL REPORT
11th July 2023
Fair Play for Children reminds Ministers and MPs of the obligations the UK has to all children, including lone child migrant asylum seekers following the disgraceful actions of the Immigration Minister. This is the letter sent all MPs
email firstname.lastname@example.org mobile 07488–265916
Dear Member of Parliament. Minister etc
I have sent the following email to my constituency MP concerning the action of the Immigration Minister in order the removal of art work at children’s migrant facility in Kent. Rightly, across the board, this has received widespread condemnation.
But I want to raise with every MP and Minister the relavance of our international treaty obligations through our adoption of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This incident displays a woeful disregard/ignorance of those legal obligations, and I would urge every MP in future to have due regard to those provisions. We expect eg Russia to do so in Ukraine ….
I write in my capacity as National Secretary of Fair Play for Children as well as your constituent. I refer to the article printed in the i paper on 6 July by Arj Singh where he reports a decision by Robert Jendrick to order the removal of artwork in the Kent asylum intake unit, “a bespoke building designed especially to meet the needs of lone asylum seeking children”.
The reasons reported were that the Minister did not want the centre to be too welcoming and as Sky News reported “Mr Jenrick also ordered colourful welcome signs to be removed as he wanted to make clear the centre was a “law enforcement environment” and “not a welcome centre”.
I would ask that this email be sent to The Home Secretary, copied to the Minister, One would ask on what authority the Minister made this decision, who was consulted? You will know that this action has been widely condemned including your own supporters and MPs.
I will turn to what I feel is a crucial and overlooked issue here, the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a leading international treaty, the most widely-adopted in the world. LINK
Article 3 is unambiguous:
Article 3 1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
The Minister’s actions must be measured against that far-reaching obligation which applies to ANY child now in this country whatever their means of access. The removal of such art work because it is “too welcoming” betrays a mind-set more intent on political dogma than one which accepts our duties under the UNCRC. .When any such decision is made, the Minister and Department are under a duty imposed by the treaty to refer to those obligations. I would hazard that at no point was this ever considered by the Minister or his civil servants. If so, I would suggest that, in future, the UNCRC should be at their elbows, so to speak..
Rightly, the international community has condemned Russia for its forced removal of thousands of Ukrainian children, the ICC writs which apply to Putin and his Children’s Commissioner are very much based on Russia’s breaches of its UNCRC obligations.
I would suggest that for many asylum/mgrant children, their experiences in leaving their homelands and making the journey here will match the horror those Ukrainian children have experienced. Can this country afford to be seen as breaching its commitments to place the welfare of every such child as a primary consideration?
What I would seek is an acknowledgment this was a poor decision, and that the centre be made a place where children already traumatised can feel safe. Repainting a mural etc would be a small portion of ‘humble pie’ . The children might be asked what THEY want (Article 12 btw), and Fair Play which came into being over 50 years ago to promote the Child’s Right to Play (Article 31) would urge that this important aspect is given adequate resource in the Centre. This may seem trivial to Ministers, MPs etc but to children it is hugely important — I say this having been Fair Play’s National Secretary for 31 years and 40 years of direct local work with children and young people..
Rather than a senior departmental official regaling me with how “kind the Government is really”, I would ask the Secretary of State to respond to you directly, admit shortcoming and propose a kindly remedy for the Minister to follow-up.
Jan Cosgrove Mr
Fair Play for Children