ECPAT UK has joined 16 other organisations and experts in writing to the Home Office about their policy of flying people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda, and how the scheme is impacting children.

The government has stated that unaccompanied children, some of who may have been trafficked, are not included in removals to Rwanda as their asylum claim cannot be deemed inadmissible. Yet, if children are incorrectly assessed to be an adults, there are no safeguards in place for children who say they are children but are treated as adults by the Home Office. Incorrect age determinations by immigrations officials lead to children being held in immigration detention or sent to adult accommodation, and now with this policy they face removal to Rwanda with extreme consequences.

The Immigration Minister confirmed that any dispute to a young person’s age “must be concluded, of course, before someone is relocated to Rwanda”, however we are already seeing cases of children who have been detained as adults being issued with ‘notices of intent’ to remove them. It is crucial that those young people who have had their age assessed as over 18 are supported to obtain legal advice and are protected from inadmissibility procedures while they have an ongoing right to challenge the decision made on age.

Read the full letter here