Update on the Janipher Maseko Case and the change in Government rules on Asylum Seekers
Story update 17 July 2007
See press release 21 May 2007
We are delighted to report that Janipher Maseko and her two children have been released from Yarl's Wood. Initially they were given inappropriate accommodation, but she has now been moved to a one-bedroom flat. We are sure that the public campaign, emails/letters of protest to Liam Byrne and other relevant Ministers, the attention paid to this case in the media and the questions asked by Lord Avebury in the House of Lords have contributed to the announcement this week that the Government has changed the rules on failed asylum seekers.
The internal instructions to immigration officers have been amended and improved. Mothers and babies will no longer be refused public support or accommodation. For the report in the Guardian see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/immigration/story/0,,2111402,00.html
"A Home Office review of family removals recommends that very young children should not be separated from their mothers, and families with school-age children about to take exams should not be detained. It also suggests that immigration enforcement officers involved in family work should be issued with clothing in softer colours than their current navy so they are less intimidating to children. The immigration minister, Liam Byrne, said he was making concessions over the much criticised section 4 support for failed asylum seekers who are unable to leave Britain because of circumstances beyond their control. He said that extra support would be given later this year to pregnant women and mothers with children in this category, including access to basic clothing and travel as well as food and toiletries with vouchers."
Black Women's Rape Action Project spearheaded the whole campaign and continue to do so for many other asylum women (http://www.womenagainstrape.net/war%20website/JannipherPR.htm).
Shelia Kitzinger arranged immigration lawyer from Birnberg Peirce and BWRAP is working with civil case lawyers and providing daily support, and she attends the Crossroads Women’s Centre several times a week - as do many other women from Yarl's Wood who join in self-help activities of the All African Women’s Group . BWRAP have kept a lot of women and children together, and stopped many removals from Yarl's Wood. BWRAP called on the International Women Count Network, also based at the Centre, to alert breastfeeding organisations which also swiftly responded.
Many people wrote letters of protest and provided other support including Lord Avebury, Prof Lesley Page, Dr Frank Arnold (Medical Justice Network) Morgan Gallagher (Nursing Matters), Helen Butler, Phyll Buchanan (Association of Breastfeeding Mothers) and other breastfeeding counsellors who have provided much needed support to Janipher throughout what must have been a terrible ordeal.