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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Group wants asylum seeker stories
Dawn raid protest
There have been protests about dawn raids on asylum seekers

A panel of experts including peers, a former judge and a bishop have been hearing first-hand accounts of dawn raids on asylum seekers.

The Independent Asylum Commission plans to visit seven venues in the UK on its fact-finding mission.

The commission wants views from as wide a group as possible in order to make recommendations for change to those who run the asylum system.

The trade union Unison told the hearing it believes dawn raids are illegal.

The body has insisted it is completely independent of both government and the refugee sector, as it is funded entirely by charitable trusts.

The current system does fail children
Sally Daghlian
Scottish Refugee Council

The Glasgow hearing is the fourth of seven across the UK.

It has been taking testimonies from local people, pressure groups and statutory organisations who are concerned about the removal of refused asylum seekers.

The government has insisted the raids are necessary to prevent failed asylum seekers from absconding.

'Contentious issues'

However, Sally Daghlian, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: "The new borders and immigration authority should concentrate on a new way of addressing removals.

"Removals are an integral part of any asylum system. People should only be returned if they have had a fair and thorough assessment of their claims.

"The current system does fail children. The UK is the only country in Europe to detain children."

Jonathan Cox, co-ordinator of the commission, said: "Though asylum is one of the most contentious issues of our day, everyone we have met can agree on one thing - the system is not working."

'Further pressure'

The public service union Unison gave evidence at the hearing in Glasgow.

Their representatives claimed that the immigration services policy to remove failed asylum seekers breached the Children (Scotland) Act.

Kate Ramsden from Unison's scottish social work issues group, said: "It is only immigration and asylum legislation that allows these children to be treated in a way that does not recognise their welfare or their rights."

John Stevenson, the union's Scottish communications chair, said: "Whilst Unison members will not collude with a deportation process that is inhumane, we can and should be providing a service to asylum seeker families.

"In particular we need to put further pressure on the Home Office to implement the decision they signed up to last year to allow a lead professional to be attached to asylum seeker families where children are involved.

"These children have already suffered very damaging experiences and may already be severely psychologically scarred. They certainly do not need the additional trauma of dawn raids and detention."

Glasgow is home to about 6,000 asylum seekers.

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