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Government reinstates legal aid for child migrants in major U-turn

The federal government has bowed to stress to reinstate authorized assist for youngster migrants in a serious U-turn after admitting unaccompanied minors within the UK could have been denied entry to justice.

Campaigners, who mentioned that entry to justice for these susceptible people is an “absolute lifeline”, hailed the choice after a five-year authorized problem.

The Youngsters’s Society, who introduced a judicial evaluate in opposition to the federal government over the problem, estimate that round 15,000 susceptible migrant youngsters alone within the UK aren’t getting the authorized assist they want, placing them liable to exploitation. 

Youngsters who’re within the UK alone have been dealing with a punishing mixture of cuts to authorized assist and skyrocketing House Workplace software charges since 2013, the charity mentioned.

Many of those kids have been separated from their dad and mom however could also be dwelling with a member of their prolonged household, associates, or are in native authority care whereas some have endured “horrific” experiences resembling trafficking.

In a written ministerial assertion, Lucy Frazer, a junior minister on the Ministry of Justice, mentioned the federal government would now place an modification to the Authorized Assist Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, to “carry immigration issues for unaccompanied and separate youngsters into scope of authorized assist.” 

Ms Frazer added: “Following a judicial evaluate introduced by the Youngsters’s Society, we’ve examined each the proof offered as a part of the case and our knowledge on purposes for funding.

“Based mostly on the distinct nature of the cohort in query, and of our knowledge relating to them, I’ve determined to carry these instances into the scope of authorized assist to make sure entry to justice.”

Matthew Reed, chief govt of the Youngsters’s Society, mentioned he was “delighted” with the choice, including: “This is a crucial change in coverage which is able to go a protracted approach to defending a number of the most marginalised and susceptible younger folks in our communities.

“Authorized assist is completely very important for guaranteeing that youngsters can entry justice. For youngsters who’re topic to immigration management and who’re on this nation on their very own, it’s an absolute life line.

“The federal government ought to be recommended for this important change for youngsters and younger folks.”

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, mentioned the federal government had been compelled into scrapping the “callous” coverage solely due to the sustained campaigning by youngsters’s rights teams over a five-year interval.

“The Conservatives ought to by no means have applied these merciless cuts which have brought about pointless misery to defenceless youngsters,” he mentioned.

Mr Burgon added: “This highlights how it’s the most susceptible residents who’ve paid the worth for the Tories’ vindictive resolution to slash funding to our authorized assist system.

“If the Authorities is critical about ending its ‘hostile atmosphere’ for all migrants then it ought to decide to returning authorized assist for all immigration regulation recommendation.”

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