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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Deportation 'terrorises children'
Immigration officer
The commissioner hit out at deportation methods
The state is terrorising children of failed asylum seekers by carrying out dawn deportation raids, the Scottish children's commissioner has claimed.

Professor Kathleen Marshall said it was "wee, quiet families" that were suffering because they were easy targets for the Home Office.

The professor said that the treatment of the children was inhumane and called on action to address the system.

The Home Office insisted methods of removal were safe and humane.

Prof Marshall told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that there was a lot of concern over safety assessment procedures for deportation destinations.

I would describe it as completely inhumane, I think we're terrorising these children and families
Kathleen Marshall

The children's commissioner also highlighted concerns over the fear and distress suffered by children at the time of removal.

She said: "I've become increasingly distressed by the inhumane methods of removal of children and families from Scotland.

"What can happen is immigration officers and police, big groups of them, 11 to 14, go to a family's house at seven o'clock in the morning, sometimes earlier, and waken the children in their beds.

"The officers in bullet proof vests waken the children, not the parents, they handcuff the parents in front of the children and then they remove them by van on long journeys down to these prisons basically."

'Easy targets'

The commissioner said the situation was scandalous and must be more widely debated.

She said: "I would describe it as completely inhumane, I think we're terrorising these children and families."

Prof Marshall added: "It's the wee, quiet families that are suffering, they're the targets, they're the easy targets - the Home Office knows where they are, they are the least likely to abscond and the least likely to put up resistance."

Kathleen Marshall
Kathleen Marshall accused the government of targeting families

She said removing families was also a way to increase the numbers in terms of meeting targets for deportation.

The professor also accused the UK Government of failing to meet the UN's charter for children.

Prof Marshall said she had been speaking with the Home Office and First Minister Jack McConnell and that she and the other UK children's commissioners were working on a joint strategy to call for change to the system.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that if an asylum appeal had been unsuccessful then it was judged safe for individuals to return to their country of origin.

She said the Immigration Service would seek to remove people as safely and humanely as possible, which could include enforced return or deportation.

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