Humanitarian crisis unfolding in Glasgow

Serco

Hundreds of asylum seekers could be forced onto streets

29th August 2019 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Campaigners warn a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Glasgow as evicted asylum seekers are being forced destitute onto the city streets.

Serco, the Home Office-appointed accommodation contractor, has accelerated its lock-changing programme to force asylum seekers from properties across the city.

It ends its contract with the government next month and is pushing to remove all failed asylum seekers by force if necessary.

However, judges at the court of session in Edinburgh yesterday (28 August) heard a fast-tracked appeal against the policy, brought by Govan Law Centre, which has so far secured more than 80 interim interdicts preventing individuals having their locks changed.

Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said Serco’s lock-change policy breaches the right to private, home and family life protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. She added that insufficient legal safeguards appear to be in place to make the policy compliant with human rights requirements.

“We are also concerned that those affected by this policy, who are already in a precarious and deeply vulnerable situation, face homelessness and destitution as a result of being forced from their homes. In our view, this may, in some circumstances, give rise to situations of inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. It is all the more important to have independent oversight of evictions so that this can be avoided.”

This is the first time the commission has used its powers to intervene in civil litigation.

Lorna Walker, a solicitor at Govan Law Centre, put two key arguments on behalf of her client, the Kurdish Iraqi national Shakar Ali.

Walker said: “There is a great deal riding on this appeal, because there is no safety net in law for these people and support agencies in Glasgow are increasingly concerned about their capacity to accommodate large numbers of destitute asylum seekers, given the arbitrary nature of these lock changes.”

Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said mass evictions were anticipated.

“That is clearly Serco and Home Office policy now,” he said. “While we recognise there are significant restrictions on what a local authority can do legally to help those with no recourse to public funds, in line with the Cosla national guidance and that of the Glasgow asylum taskforce, these restrictions are not total and we call on the council to accelerate commitments to provide public premises for short-term, dignified accommodation in a time of genuine crisis.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Together with charities we have engaged with every individual affected over a number of months to provide advice and guidance on the support and options available to them.”

30th August 2019 by Angus McKay

“Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said mass evictions were anticipated” … “and we call on the council to accelerate commitments to provide public premises for short-term, dignified accommodation in a time of genuine crisis.”Sabir Zazai, why don’t you provide a place in your family home for short-term, dignified accommodation?