Abuse of rights of breastfeeding mother held at Yarls Wood detention centre after being separated from 3-week-old child
Baby Milk Action public statement and call for action 21 May 2007
UPDATE 17 July 2007
Ms Jennifer Maseko Home Office Ref No: M1162356)
Last year Baby Milk Action and Lord Avebury complained to the Home Office Minister, Liam Byrne about two cases where breastfeeding mothers seeking asylum in the UK had been detained and separated from their babies (see Update 38).
The Minister told the media that the cases were isolated incidents and wrote that the Home Office had received advice that breastfeeding mothers should not be separated from their infants.
In one of the cases he said that immigration officials had failed to follow the correct procedures regarding the treatment of families. See the Guardian, 18 August 2006: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,1852396,00.html
We have now been informed about another urgent and distressing case which shows that Home Office Guidelines are still not being followed and which we believe is a clear violation of child and human rights.
This time it concerns an 18 year-old Ugandan mother of a one-year-old and three-week-old breastfed baby who has been detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and forcibly separated from her baby for over a week now.
We are grateful to the Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Crossroads Women’s Centre who first alerted us to this case and to Morgan Gallagher of Nursing Matters who has been providing breast pumps and support to Ms Maseko.
Thanks too to the many people and organisations who are joining forces to see that something is done quickly to bring this family together. It is vitally important not only that Ms Maseko is reunited with her children, but that Home Office Guidelines are integrated into the training of everyone who has contact with mothers and their babies in these circumstances.
At long last the plight of women in prison is being recognised, but asylum seekers seem to be ignored.
Here are the contact details of people to write to asking them to ensure that breastfeeding children should not be separated from their mother unless there are exceptional and compelling reasons for considering such action, as the Home Office has been advised.
For Baby Milk Action's letter click here.
Director and John Hayes,
Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre,
Fax: 01234 821152
Liam Byrne MP,
Minister for State for Nationality,
Citizenship & Immigration Home Office,
3rd Floor, Peel Building,
2 Marsham Street,
Fax: 0207 035 4745
John Randall, MP for Uxbridge
Tel: 0207 219 6885
Fax: 01895 904914
Quality Standards Manager,
London Borough of Hillingdon,
Tel : 01895 277261
Send copies of correspondence to us at info<AT>babymilkaction.org
Black Women's Rape Action Project,
230a Kentish Town Rd,
Tel: 020 7482 2496 or 07980 659 831
Fax to 020 7209 4761.