Serco to lock out 20 refugees and asylum seekers each week – lawyers to consider appeal to U.K. Supreme Council

13 November 2019

Court of session refuses due process for Glasgow’s refugees and asylum seekers

Refugee charities have warned that a dangerous precedent has been set for the state to avoid human-rights obligations after Scotland’s highest court ruled that the evictions of refused asylum seekers by the housing provider Serco were lawful.

Appeal judges at Edinburgh’s court of session refused to overturn a decision made earlier this year by the court’s outer house that Serco’s policy of changing the locks on the homes of refused asylum seekers did not contravene Scottish housing law or human rights legislation.

Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing, a refugee and migrant homelessness and human rights charity based in Glasgow, said:

“We are very disappointed by this legal ruling. We now face a situation where hundreds of vulnerable people risk being made street destitute in wintry conditions, with no right to homeless assistance or the right to work to earn money to pay rent. People are very frightened.

“Serco is stating that they will lock out 20 people a week who it claims “have no right to remain in this country”. Serco is not an immigration officer to decide on people’s status, which is highly fluid,  it is a corporate multinational making money out of asylum seekers. These lockouts will cause misery on our streets, for Serco this is nothing more than a cleaning up exercise at the end of its contract in Scotland.

“We re going to see more people travelling on night buses to avoid being on the streets, or they will stay with other asylum seekers who themselves risk their own accommodation with the home office.

“We now have a situation in Glasgow where one section of our community have their human and housing rights upheld. And another very vulnerable community can be dragged from their homes at any time and turfed out onto the streets without recourse to work, support or a roof over their heads.

” We are seeing people being tossed between destitution and home office support for years at a time because of home Office incompetence, but then getting the right to remain. Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iraq and Iran.

“Our charity has our community hosting service Room for Refugees which is providing stable shelter so people can get on with pursuing their legal claim to asylum. We currently shelter around 70 refugee families and individuals  each night in our volunteer host’ homes. We have room for more. If vulnerable refugees cannot have their human rights guaranteed then it’s down to small charities like ours to make sure that does happen so eventually after years they get their paperwork and can pay taxes and work and standing on their own two feet and rebuild their lives – privately – without charities or volunteers.

“But our question remains : what does an eviction without due process look like? Where is the legal paperwork? Where is the police? The Sheriff officers? Serco has the freedom to do what it likes to empty its properties. It is what has been going on in this city to vulnerable refugees for many years – the locks on their homes changed without notice , when they dare step out of their homes, their belongings thrown into bin bags, and all of this without any form of due process.”

The global refugee crisis is growing. In 2019, according to the UNHCR, there are now over 70.3M refugees in the world. 

Govan Law Centre has announced it is to consult its client in order to appeal to the U.K. Supreme Council . 

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