Home Office condemned for ‘inhumane’ treatment of teenage asylum seekers in Glasgow

A children’s rights expert has condemned the “inhumane” treatment of two teenage asylum seekers who fled to Glasgow from Pakistan seven years ago.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 7:00 am
A petition is handed in at the immigration centre in Glasgow against treatment of brothers Somer and Areeb Bakhsh, who are 16 and 14. PIC: Contributed.

Glasgow Caledonian University law lecturer Tracy Kirk accused the Home Office of creating “deadly uncertainty” by their handling of Somer, 16, and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh, 14, and their parents, Maqsood and Parveen.

Mr Umeed Bakhsh was subjected to death threats from Islamic extremists due to his Christian faith.

A petition launched by the family’s minister, the Rev Linda Pollock of Possilpark Parish Church, has been signed by nearly 90,000 people.

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Ms Kirk said: “Humanity and compliance with children’s rights is completely omitted from the current Home Office system.

“It is high time they were given the prominence they deserve, and the compliance the UK has agreed to, by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“At present, the UK is actively breaching the internationally recognised rights of children in our treatment of asylum and immigration cases.

“We are failing children and young people who live in Scotland and wish to make Scotland their home.

“The inhumane treatment and the Home Office’s inability to consider children’s rights in the manner in which they should is creating dreadful uncertainty.

“At a time when many young people are looking forward to an exciting new chapter of their lives as they enter adulthood, these two young boys are being held back by the inaction of the Home Office.”

Ms Kirk said uncertainty over whether they would be permitted to stay in the UK was affecting the family’s mental health.

The Very Rev Susan Brown, the outgoing Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, told the gathering in Edinburgh she had been “angered and exasperated” by the way people genuinely seeking safety were treated.

She said the Home Office had already granted Giorgi Kakava, 11, another asylum seeker in Glasgow, leave to remain for 30 months.

She said: “Sadly the [UK] government has not yet made the same compassionate offer to the [Umeed Bakhsh] family.”.

The Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and every case is assessed on its individual merits.

“We are reviewing this case and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”