The High Court is to rule on whether the detention of children at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre in Bedfordshire violates human rights.
Two single mothers say a lack of safeguards at the centre led to their children suffering distress and trauma.
Reetha Suppiah, 37, a Malaysian nurse, and Sakinat Bello, 25, a Nigerian national, want a declaration that the Government policy of detaining minors at the centre is so flawed that it cannot be operated lawfully.
A ruling on their application for judicial review will be given at London’s High Court by Mr Justice Wyn Williams.
Both mothers were failed asylum seekers arrested by UK Border Agency officers in dawn raids on their homes last February.
They were taken to Yarl’s Wood, Bedfordshire, the UK’s main removal centre for women and children, on the basis that they had no right to remain in the UK.
Reetha and her two boys, aged one and 11, were detained for 17 days, whilst Sakinat and her two-year-old daughter were held for 12 days before being released and allowed back into the community pending their legal challenges.
Rabinder Singh QC, representing the families, said at a hearing last year the evidence before the court – largely uncontested – revealed the harmful impact of their treatment on both mothers and children.
Reetha’s eldest child was particularly badly affected and now lived “in continuous fear of re-arrest”.
Mr Singh said there was “strong and consistent evidence” to support the claim that “serious harm is routinely caused to detained children”, and the immigration detention system was afflicted by “fundamental structural problems”.