Citizens UK is an organisation that aims to unite “community leaders” for a strong civil society. The ‘Temple of Peace & Health’ was the host to an event by Citizens UK to develop a chapter in Cardiff.
Four activists from Cardiff decided to try and bring some accountability to the organisation on December 5th this month, after experiencing the effect that family detention and deportations have on people known closely.
The reason that Citizens UK is a target, is that despite having a campaign to end child detention in the UK, it has failed to speak out since the opening of the most recent detention centre, CEDARS, which opened last year. CEDARS is controversially partly run by charity Barnardos, for families in the UK, and despite the fact that no open procurement tendering process for the facility, (as required by EU and UK legislation), took place, activists came together over a year ago to try and close CEDARS before it was even open, which was also made harder by public access to the planning application being restricted. Because of the difficult nature of the campaign in 2011 and noticeable absence of more establishment campaign groups backing it, CEDARS opened in August 2011. Since then, the centre has held over 40 families and around 100 children, yet Citizens UK still attempt to claim on its website that all child detention has ended, when UKBA figures themselves contradict this.
Offical figures show that hundreds of children have been detained since 2010, some of them more than once – which breaks the ‘red lines’ that Barnardos have set themselves in the running of this detention centre – and in the figures released by UKBA only days before, 47 children have been detained by UKBA in the last 3 months, with more than half of those in existing detention centres, explicitly against one of the campaign demands that Citizens UK had in 2010.
Leaflets with these facts, and a quote from Citizens UK claiming that all child detention has ended, were taken to the event at the Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, and left on every table and in front of most of the attendees. This leaflet also questioned why Citizens UK has not spoken out against CEDARS detention centre and highlighted the campaign that is ongoing against Barnardos for allowing this detention centre to be built due to its complicity in the running of it as an accomplice to notorious security company G4S.
As the charity Medical Justice puts it:
“they ruined the campaign to end the detention of children, which campaigners felt could be achievable as the government had already promised it.”
As the distribution of these leaflets was allowed to take place without incident, despite them being very critical of Citizens UK, campaigners stayed for a while to talk to some participants about their concerns. Some participants even came themselves to talk to the group, and after a brief discussion about the groups aims, we wait to see if Citizens UK might now speak out against future detention, or campaigners might be back to future events to hold them to account for 2010 promises.
Cardiff activists also encourage other groups to take the campaign to Citizens UK in other cities until child detention has finally ended in the UK.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
No-one is illegal!
End all child detention!
 Leaflet below