Human rights concerns over asylum seeker evictions

2 August 2018, 15:17 | Updated: 2 August 2018, 15:21

Home Office

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has raised concerns over plans to evict more than 300 former asylum seekers from their homes in Glasgow.

Commission chairwoman Judith Robertson warned locking people out of their homes and leaving them on the streets is a "clear violation of these human rights responsibilities".

She warned the Home Office and its accommodation providers for asylum seekers, Serco, of their need to protect the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

She said: "The commission is deeply concerned about the human rights of people seeking asylum and those granted refugee status who are facing eviction from their homes in Glasgow.

"Both the UK Government and the private firm Serco have human rights obligations and responsibilities to these groups.

"In particular, the UK Government has an obligation to ensure rights are upheld not only in law and policy, but through relevant procurement and contractual arrangements.

"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.

"Locking people out of their homes, leaving them destitute and vulnerable on our streets, is a clear violation of these human rights responsibilities."

She called on all parties to work together to ensure human rights are respected.

Her call comes as two men enter the second day of a hunger protest against the planned evictions.

Afghan nationals Rahman Shah, 32, and Mirwais Ahmadzai, 27, are protesting outside the Home Office base in Glasgow.

Both men said they are feeling sick, having had nothing to eat or drink.

Mr Ahmadzai said: "We are here on behalf of all asylum seekers. We want justice for all asylum seekers."

Serco's plans to start changing the locks for asylum seekers refused refugee status was revealed at the weekend, sparking protests.

On Wednesday, Serco chief executive Rupert Soames said lock-change notices would be given to no more than 10 people a week for the next four weeks.

He said none of these would be families with children and all will be people who the Home Office considers to have exhausted their appeal process and no longer have right to remain.

He made the concessions to Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken in response to a letter she wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid calling for a stop to the policy due to fears of a "humanitarian crisis", co-signed by SNP, Labour and Green politicians.

He said Serco is paying for accommodation in Glasgow for 330 people who are no longer receiving support from the Home Office.