BBC NEWS | Glasgow Dawn raid furore family deported

30 September 2005

A Kosovan family whose eviction sparked a row over dawn raids on failed asylum seekers have been deported.

The Home Office confirmed it had deported the Vucaj family, who were taken from their Glasgow flat after their asylum application was rejected.

Witnesses said the family endured heavy-handed tactics during the eviction, prompting friction between the Home Office and Scottish ministers.

The family’s supporters expressed sadness at the deportation.

Members of the group Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) said they were heartbroken for the family.

Director Robina Qureshi said 13-year-old Saida Vucaj called her in a distressed state at 0420 BST to tell her the family were being deported. Seconds later the phone went dead.

She said: “I was fool enough to think that children and photographs and lobbying and a visit to the first minister only seven days ago might change hearts, might win some form of reprieve.

“Instead, the family are being woken at dawn – yet again, so nothing’s changed there – and being ‘sent back’ to Kosovo or Albania taking with them the clothes on their back and their Glasgow accents.

“If the UK Government thinks that the story of the Vucaj family in Britain ended with their deportation this morning to Kosovo, then they are badly mistaken.”

She added that PAIH plans to lead a high-profile delegation to Kosovo.

In a statement the Home Office said: “Removing failed asylum seekers is a key part of our work to ensure effective immigration controls.”

A petition had been organised at Drumchapel High School to try to stop the deportation of Saida and her brothers Nimet, 16, and Elvis, 18.

Children’s commissioner

Their parents, Isen and Nexhi Vucaj, were said to be on medication for various illnesses. 

The family, who had lived in Glasgow for five years, were taken from their home in Drumchapel on 13 September in a dawn raid carried out by immigration officials.

Eyewitnesses said the children were still in pyjamas with Mr Vucaj and Nimet in handcuffs. 

The family were taken to the Yarlswood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire pending their removal.

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, Professor Kathleen Marshall, intervened and condemned the dawn raids on failed asylum seekers, which she said were “traumatising children and families”.

The controversy prompted a debate in the Scottish Parliament over the treatment of failed asylum seekers last week.

The Vucaj family’s case was raised in the chamber again on Thursday by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who called for an immediate end to dawn raids.

First Minister Jack McConnell said he had reached agreement in principle with the home secretary that there should be a code of conduct for immigration officers involved in evicting failed asylum seekers.

He told Holyrood that the details were still to be agreed but education officials and social workers would be consulted over evictions. 

‘Clear protocol’

Mr McConnell said he accepted that in some cases “force will be required” but that at all times officials should seek to act in a humane manner.

In cases involving children, he said: “There should be a clear protocol established that involves education and social services in advance of any action being taken by these immigration authorities.”

Mr Harvie said the deportation was “yet another shameful and disgusting example of this government’s treatment of children”.

He added: “I find it appalling that just one week after the executive was forced to act, that this can happen again to the same family.” 

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