Mr Justice Collins has given a scathing judgment in a grant of permission to a judicial review challenge to the practice of the Home Office’s Third Country Unit (TCU) in detaining and removing children to supposedly safe third countries such as Greece and Italy. The case was heard yesterday and a transcript was ordered but is not available at the time of writing.
For more on third country cases generally see this recent post. The arguments on return of children to a third country were obviously considered by Collins J to be different to those relating to adults.
In one case a 15 year old was detained without warning at her foster carer’s address in a dawn raid. She was handcuffed. Her removal was stopped as she managed to get in touch with her lawyers. In the other case a 16 year old also in the care of social services and placed with a foster carer was also detained in another dawn raid, but this time she was unable to contact her lawyers and was removed. She had disclosed to social services that she had experienced sexual assault previously in Italy and been forced to work as a prostitute, and the Third Country Unit knew this. On return to Italy she was held in a cell then released onto the streets with no accommodation or money.
There was no welfare assessment. The duty to safeguard children recently made binding on UKBA was obviously entirely disregarded.
The judgment, once available, will open a little window into the twisted world inhabited by Ministers and senior civil servants, who consider this to be morally and legally acceptable.