The detention of children of asylum seekers is “one of the
great scandals of our time”, the chief executive of the
Scottish Refugee Council told delegates at Community Care
Live Scotland today, writes Gordon Carson from
Sally Daghlian said the United Kingdom was “unique”
in the way it used detention for asylum-seeking families and
children, and slammed legislation that allows the government to
detain asylum seekers for unlimited periods of time.
She said the “key problem” about holding children in
immigration detention centres, including the Dungavel centre in
Scotland, was not the standard of care they offered but the
“actions and inactions” of the Immigration and
“Not everybody seeking asylum needs protection under
international law and the government then has the right to remove
them,” she added, “but how that’s done is a
matter of concern.”
She praised Scotland’s children’s commissioner,
Kathleen Marshall, for her “outstanding and outspoken”
condemnation of the detention of asylum-seeking children.
Richard Morran, programme co-ordinator for asylum and refugee
operations in Scotland for Save the Children, said there had been a
high quality of debate in Scotland about asylum seekers but that
there had mostly been “silence” among MPs at
Westminster, which has control over UK immigration policy.
He also criticised the government for not keeping adequate or
accurate records of the number of asylum-seeking children in
He claimed child welfare was “often low in the
priorities” of immigration agencies, and said the quality of
legal advice available for asylum seekers was poor.
And he said organisations, including the Church of Scotland, had
come up with plans for keeping track of failed asylum seekers that
avoided the need for detention, but the Home Office rejected
Daghlian said a lot of UK policy “cut across”
initiatives by Scotland’s first minister, Jack McConnell, to
attract more immigrants to the country.