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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Call to close Dungavel
Detainees are kept in by barbed wire at Dungavel
Campaigners are calling for the immediate closure of a detention centre in Scotland and the release of the asylum-seeking families detained there.

The anti-racist charity Positive Action in Housing has branded the Dungavel Immigration and Removal Centre in Lanarkshire "an ugly scar" on Scotland's conscience and condemned Labour MSPs for their "wall of silence".

It wants to see the centre shut down immediately and is appealing to politicians to speak out on behalf of the children held there.

The call was backed by housing associations and opposition MSPs.

Positive Action director Robina Qureshi said: "Ordinary Scots are becoming increasingly outraged when they hear that children are being imprisoned without time limit, trail or having committed a crime on Scottish soil and our political leaders have nothing to say about it.

"The Scottish Executive appears to not want to say anything publicly on this growing embarrassment for fear of upsetting Westminster."

There are some absolutes in any civilised society, one of these is that we do not imprison children especially children who've done nothing wrong.
David Orr
She added: "Refugees came here to seek sanctuary but now it looks like they should be seeking asylum from Britain because we take away their liberty for claiming asylum in this country.

"We lock them up without crime, time limit or trial. That's as bad as the countries they fled."

Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer who represented the Ay family detained at Dungavel before being deported, described Dungavel as "barbaric".

He said: "The Dungavel regime refuses mothers the right to feed children as and when they want and refuses the children the right to play in freedom.

"The logic that this government is following is one of fascism and can no longer claim to be a civilised society when political points are being scored by incarcerating children.

"Dungavel should be immediately shut down. the home office has repeatedly breached international law, the UN convention on the rights of the child, and these crimes are being carried out on Scottish soil.

Right to education

David Orr, chief executive of Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, backed the call for Dungavel's closure.

He said: "There are some absolutes in any civilised society, one of these is that we do not imprison children especially children who've done nothing wrong.

"Given the opportunity and the policy framework we are capable of finding better ways of housing asylum seekers.

"The continuing incarceration of our children is a disgrace for all parts of our government."

Tommy Sheridan MSP said that children at Dungavel should at least be allowed the right to be educated along with other children in Scotland.

Mother and child leave Dungavel
04 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Anger at Dungavel 'punishment'
03 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Asylum children pressure mounts
15 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Asylum centres 'not for children'
15 Aug 03  |  Scotland

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