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Date Tuesday 5 June 2007

Asylum removals breach Scottish law - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today (Tuesday), said that the removal and deportation process that the immigration service use to remove failed asylum seekers - the so-called 'dawn raids' - breach the rights of children laid down by the Children (Scotland) Act.

The union is giving evidence to the Independent Asylum Commission's Public Hearing in Glasgow today. In addition the union called for the protocol that it had argued for, and that would allow a 'lead professional' to assess the position of the child with reference to schooling and health, to be implemented as soon as possible.

Kate Ramsden, from UNISON's Scottish Social Work Issues Group, who gave evidence said "We have heard of situations where children have been awakened from their beds; where children have witnessed their parents being removed in handcuffs; and where very young children have been separated from their parents during the removals process, creating great distress to the child and the parent.

"In no other circumstances would it be acceptable for the state to treat children in this way. No other Scottish child would be subjected to such treatment. Indeed, in all other cases the primary focus would be on the care and protection of such vulnerable children. It is only immigration and asylum legislation that allows these children to be treated in a way that does not recognise their welfare or their rights."

John Stevenson, UNISON's Scottish Communications Chair said "Whilst UNISON members will not collude with a deportation process that is inhumane, we can and should be providing a service to asylum seeker families. In particular we need to put further pressure on the Home Office to implement the decision they signed up to last year - to allow a lead professional to be attached to asylum seeker families where children are involved. These children have already suffered very damaging experiences and may already be severely psychologically scarred. They certainly do not need the additional trauma of dawn raids and detention."

The union will continue to campaign to ensure that the rights of children and asylum seekers are defended and that the myths perpetrated about immigrants are challenged.

ENDS

[Note for Editors - the full evidence from UNISON to the IAC is available on the UNISONScotland website at

www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/asylumreviewresponseo7.html

For Further Information Please Contact: Kate Ramsden (Social Work Issues Group) 07767 027 722(m) John Stevenson (Chair - Scottish Communication Cttee) 07876 795 018 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

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