Intended for healthcare professionals


Detention is still harming children at the US border

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 09 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3001
  1. Charles Hui, chief of infectious diseases1,
  2. Deborah Zion, chair2
  1. 1Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada
  2. 2Victoria University Human Research Ethics Committee, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: C Hui chui{at}

We must use all means possible to secure their release

Healthcare practitioners who are dedicated to making the lives of children and their families better watched in disbelief as the ongoing situation of separating children from their parents unfolded at the southern border of the United States. We know that for many families the migration journey is traumatic and has lasting effects; separation and detention simply compound this trauma. Many healthcare workers are mindful of the clear guidance set out in the Declaration of Tokyo,1 which states: “The physician shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures.”

Global outrage led President Trump to sign an executive order on 20 June that will keep more families together. At the same time, the order provides more authority to detain families until the end of their administrative proceedings. The US government is now seeking the power to detain immigrant children beyond 20 days and potentially indefinitely.2 This is clearly a …

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