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9 January 2012
Sorry, guys, we’ve clocked another “Orwell” in the political rose garden – and it’s still only January.
Yes, this is a pretty straightforward “Orwell” courtesy of that well-known bunch of friendly freedom fighters, the Border Agency of the UK Interior Ministry.
As any fule kno, the Interior Ministry officially rides into battle under the cosy moniker of “Home Office”.
One of the main functions of the Home Office, via its Border Agency, is to prevent foreigners from making their “home” in the UK.
It’s a case of lucus a non lucendo, as we used to say in Hull.
Well, what do you know but, in the out-of-court settlement of a civil action, the Home Office is said to have just agreed to pay out a six-figure sum – we’re talking taxpayers’ money here, by the way – in compensation to four children of Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey. The Ay family’s request for asylum being opposed by the UK authorities, the children, with their parents, are said to have been banged up in detention for 13 months.
Apparently, such detention is not good for children’s development and can result in long-term psychological and social problems, to say nothing of the disruption to their education.
The whole sorry saga was dissected by Diane Taylor and Simon Hattenstone on Page 3 (of the Guardian, not the Sun) on 7 January 2012. Their article is our source of information on the case.
The children are said to have been put in detention in 2002 on the watch of that egregious champion of civil liberties Prime Minister Blurr. Blurr’s views on the compensation pay-out are not referred to in the article. The Interior Minister (aka Home Secretary) at the time was David Blunkett. The Guardian says he was “unavailable for comment” on the settlement.
This all happened quite a long time ago now but one is naturally curious to know to what extent, if at all, the UK still maintains its policy of keeping the children of asylum-seekers in detention.
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, is quoted as telling the Guardian: “We celebrated when the [UK] coalition government pledged to end the detention of children, but remain disappointed that although conditions for children are slightly better, the new family removals process still includes detention.”
Not much improvement there then.
But wait a minute. Here comes a spokesman for the Border Agency. “In March 2011 we established a new family returns process that ended the detention of children,” he told the newspaper.
Oh dear! Those silly people at the Refugee Council, getting it wrong as usual, presumably. You see, they really have stopped detaining children. No bones about it. It’s there in black and white: the detention of children has ended.
But then, when everything was thought to be sorted, the Border Agency spokesman added a codicil: “As a last resort where all voluntary options have failed families may be held in our pre-departure removal accommodation…..”
Oh dear (again)! So they haven’t abolished the detention of children after all. They said that they had abolished it. And yet, in the next breath, they reveal that they haven’t. What are we to make of this?
Confusion all round.
But then we have our Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment. It’s all crystal-clear, really.
They still have detention but it is not called that any more!
It’s called “holding children in pre-departure removal accommodation”!
Brilliant! What a wheeze! Promote that person – the official who was responsible for this stroke of genius.
It will come as no surprise to readers to learn that we have nominated the UK Interior Ministry and its Border Agency as a candidate for the “Orwell Loo Brush Award” to be bestowed, in the fullness of time, on the most deserving candidate.