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Immigration: Children

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 12 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that the UK Border Agency issues guidance to staff dealing with female children subject to immigration control on how to deal with an alleged threat of female genital mutilation, including referral to the on-site social worker team if the allegation concerns a child who is located in an immigration removal centre, and the completion of a rule 35 form, used to report actual or suspected evidence of torture to the UK Borders Agency case holders. [HL5717]

The UK Border Agency is committed to keeping children safe from harm. Staff are required to undertake a keeping children safe learning and development programme which includes a tested learning module on the action they should take if they suspect that a child they come into contact with may be at risk of harm.

When a person expresses a fear of return to their country of origin on the grounds that they would be subjected there to female genital mutilation this is considered by the UK Border Agency as an application for asylum and those who demonstrate a need for international protection are given it. Each application is considered individually by a trained decision maker in accordance with the United Kingdom's obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) against the background of the latest available country of origin information and guidance. Guidance for asylum decision-makers includes the Asylum Policy Instruction on Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim which makes specific reference to claims based on female genital mutilation. This can be viewed at

Guidance on the procedures to be followed on making, sending and considering reports under the terms of rule 35 of the detention centre rules was issued to UK Border Agency staff in early February this year.