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27 March 2006

Asylum Seeker Children


Welfare of asylum children must be paramount - UNISON

UNISON has welcomed Immigration Minister Tony McNulty's announcement (see below) that children of asylum seekers will have a named professional to safeguard their interests, and that staff dealing with children will have to have background checks.

"As the union representing Scotland's social work staff, we welcome the Scottish Executive's inervention and are glad they listened to our argument that the children of asylum seekers should have the same rights as any other child under Scottish law. That means their welfare must be paramount", said Kate Ramsden from UNISON's Scottish Social Work Issues Group.

"This is only one step but many of the changes will ensure that at least children's voices are heard and we hope that will lead to their needs being properly addressed. Our members were horrified at the harm being caused to children by 'dawn raids'.

"But children will still be deported with all the harm that may cause. The problem will only be solved when government accepts that these children enrich our society. We are calling again for an amnesty for asylum seekers so that children who have begun to rebuild their lives in Scotland can do that in peace and security".


Members of the Social Work Issues Group had meetings with the Scottish Executive, the latest on 23 March 2006 (see Briefing 1 for more details).

The Scottish Exec has confirmed what has been agreed between them and Tony McNulty (UK Immigration Minister) and what they indicated at our meeting with them on 23rd:-

1. Lead professional to be appointed for each child and early involvement for asylum seeker children in line with Getting It Right for Every Child

2. Review of the removals process (eventually UK wide)

3. Enhanced disclosure checks for all immigration staff contacting children

4. Independent inspection of services to children (prob by HMIE)

5. Independent inspection of removals process itself for whole UK

6. Improve communications with the HO and an immigration director at senior officer level for Scotland.

This reflects most of the issues the SWIG raised. However the root issue is still there and we need to continue to work together on the initiatives we discussed. UNISON will still be calling for an amnesty for asylum seekers as well as continuing to oppose deportations in general.