Scottish Human Rights Commission to intervene in eviction case

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Housing provider Serco is continuing with a mass eviction of around 300 asylum seekers.

30th July 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has been granted permission to intervene in ongoing attempts to prevent hundreds of asylum seekers being evicted.

Housing provider Serco is continuing with a mass eviction of around 300 people in Glasgow whose claims for protection have been rejected.

Campaigners have launched a number of legal actions in a bid to prevent the forced evictions, which have temporarily prevented people being locked out of their homes in 41 out of 44 cases.

The SHRC has now been given leave to intervene in the case of Shakar Ali, a Kurdish Iraqi national who lives in Glasgow with her husband.

The couple had a joint application for asylum turned down in 2016, and last year were told to leave their home or face legal action.

SHRC lawyers will now appeal the case at the Court of Session in August.

Judith Robertson, SHRC chair, said the case raised serious human rights implications for people who are already in a vulnerable position.

“Nobody should be left deliberately destitute and homeless by the actions of the state, or by organisations delivering services on the state’s behalf,” she added.

“Everyone has a right to a private and family life, to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment and, in terms of international law, a right to adequate housing. The UK government has corresponding legal obligations to protect these rights, as does Serco when it comes to providing housing services on its behalf.

“Locking people out of their homes, leaving them destitute and vulnerable on Scotland’s streets, is, in the Commission’s view, a clear violation of these human rights responsibilities.

“There is a significant public interest in ensuring that governments and their contractors are held to account when they disregard their human rights obligations. Strengthening accountability for human rights breaches is a key priority for the Commission and we are therefore pleased to have been granted leave to intervene in this case.”

The case is expected to be heard in the Court of Session on 28 August 2019.

Serco, which lost the Home Office contract in Scotland earlier this year, said that restarting the eviction plans was “not a step we have taken lightly.”

It guaranteed that no more than 30 people would be issued with lock-changing notices in any one week, that tenants would be given at least 21 days’ notice to make alternative arrangements and that no children would be left homeless.

Serco also promised to donate up to £150,000 to charities supporting homeless people in Glasgow. This is the rough equivalent of the Scottish Refugee Council’s destitution grant of £70 a fortnight, which does not include accommodation costs, for the 300 individuals affected for just over three months.