BY Ryan McDougall | August 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

7-refugees

Catholic groups welcome court decision to prevent forced evictions of refugees

Catholic campaigners have welcomed a move by Glasgow Sheriff Court that halted a series of evictions of asylum seekers.

Over the last several weeks, Justice and Peace Scotland (J&P), the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) and Marian Action have been protesting against Serco, which had been changing the locks of those who had been refused asylum while they were out of their homes.

The Church campaigners lambasted both Serco and the Home Office for the move, which could have seen more than 300 men and women homeless on Glasgow’s streets.

 

‘Unlawful’ lock-changes

Glasgow Sheriff Court has since blocked 50 evictions on the grounds that they would have been ‘unlawful,’ as they take place without a court order.

Three people have been made homeless due to the evictions, but the block means that others who could have suffered a similar fate can remain in their accommodation for now.

The move has been praised by the Catholic groups campaigning against the evictions.

 

SSVP

Joe Maguire, president of Glasgow SSVP, said: “I think the fewer people being made homeless the better. We work with people on the margins of society and generally speaking it’s not nice for them.”

On whether the move by the court will serve as a permanent solution, he added: “I would hope it would be upheld. I’m not sure what powers the council has to prevent Serco carrying on the eviction programme. We’ll have to wait and see.

“I know the government and the council have intimated that they’re not happy with Serco, but whether they can stop them from doing it I don’t know.”

 

Justice and Peace Scotland

Danny Sweeney, coordinator of Justice and Peace Scotland, said: “We welcome that Glasgow Sheriff Court has recognised what is important in this situation: the issues of payment and the relationships between the Home Office and private for-profit companies, including Serco, must come secondary to the inherent human dignity of people.

“It is right that Glasgow City Council and the various charitable and legal organisations who are opposing this action use every means available to them.”

 

Not above the law

Mr Sweeney added that the Home Office and home secretary ‘must realise that they are not above the laws of our country, nor are they absented from the moral obligations to welcome the stranger.’

Mr Sweeney also called for the Home Office to review its process of housing and support for asylum seekers.

He added: “For those who are refused asylum, the Home Office does nothing save claim that they should return home, ignoring the fears of the individuals and frequently relying on outdated or incomplete information.

“The Home Office needs to look to its responsibility to support people both those transitioning into life as a refugee and those who have been unsuccessful but remain in the UK with the potential to contribute to our society.”

 

Scottish Refugee Council

The move has also been praised by other campaigners across Scotland.

Graham O’Neill, policy manager of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “These 50 interdicts are a significant milestone in the campaign against Serco and the Home Office’s inhumane treatment of people seeking refugee protection in Scotland.

“It’s time for Serco to commit to the lawful court order procedure which exists to protect people, giving them time to challenge potential evictions and avoid crisis situations such as this where people are being forced into destitution and onto the streets.”

If you know of someone at risk of eviction and want to help, contact the Scottish Refugee Council on 0141 223 7979.

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