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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
SNP seeks asylum intervention
The SNP has attacked the detention of children
The Scottish National Party has taken its concerns over the detention of children at the Dungavel immigration centre to Europe.

Euro MP Professor Neil MacCormick asked Alvaro Gil-Robles, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe, to investigate the UK Government's policy on the detention of the children of asylum seekers.

Campaigners have condemned the policy as immoral and a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Professor MacCormick said the Westminster government, which has reserved powers over immigration issues, had failed to respect the human rights of the youngsters it detains behind bars.

Whatever happens, I hope the problem can be resolved speedily and humanely
Professor Neil MacCormick
The MEP described his meeting with Mr Gil-Robles as "very cordial and constructive".

He said: "We discussed the problem of detention of children pending deportation as a general problem in Europe, and with specific reference to the Dungavel situation.

"It seemed to me that the commissioner was very closely engaged with the problem and fully aware of its seriousness.

"I believe that this conversation has started what will be a very useful process, but it is not for me to say how the commissioner will take the matter forward.

"Whatever happens, I hope the problem can be resolved speedily and humanely."

The SNP is also seeking a meeting with Home Secretary David Blunkett over the education of children while detained at Dungavel.

Campaigners have argued that the Scottish Executive and South Lanarkshire Council should take over their education.

Capacity controversy

The executive has insisted that the matter is one for the Home Office but the Nationalists said Commons research showed there was no apparent legal basis for this.

Campaigners reacted angrily at the weekend to reports that the Dungavel asylum centre's capacity is to be increased.

The Home Office has confirmed that it is looking at a 3m project to increase capacity by a quarter to 194.

This would involve new pre-fabricated buildings with bars on the windows being built at the centre.

Linda Fabiani, SNP MSP for Central Scotland, accused the executive of colluding with the Home Office.

The executive repeated that Dungavel was a reserved matter for Westminster and the Home Office.

Professor MacCormick on Good Morning Scotland
"We seem to be in gross and flagrant violation of human rights"

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