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Ian Hudghton
Scottish National Party
Member of the European Parliament

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Press Releases
2 September 2003
Euro MPs set to condemn UK treatment of Asylum Seekers

SNP Members of the European Parliament, Ian Hudghton and Neil MacCormick will be keeping a close eye on Scottish Labour and Lib-Dem MEPs during a debate on fundamental rights in the European Union in Strasbourg tomorrow (Wednesday) when a report on fundamental human rights in the EU is discussed.

The Sylla report - essentially an overview of fundamental human rights in the EU – points a critical finger at the UK Government for holding asylum-seekers’ children in detention centres for lengthy periods. It further condemns Governments like the Lib/Lab coalition in Edinburgh, who fail to provide refugee children with access to mainstream schooling. Public outcry at the long-term detention of the Ay family at Dungavel and lack of educational provision for the children has been widespread here in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. The SNP believes that debate may prove to be an embarrassment for Labour members and the Lib Dems too.

Commenting in advance of the debate, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

“In spite of repeated media attempts to extract comment from Labour and Lib-Dem MSPs about the Ay family, every single member of the Scottish Executive remained tight-lipped and passed the buck to their London colleagues most of whom have been curiously reluctant to come forward and shoulder responsibility for the Dungavel disgrace.

“The Sylla report does not specifically mention Dungavel, but the detention centre and Ay family’s bitter experiences should be to the forefront of every Scottish MEP’s mind. The Labour/Lib-Dem Executive sought the safety of London’s lap earlier this summer, shirking off responsibility for their role in the disgraceful treatment of this family. It will be a travesty if their Strasbourg colleagues fail to join the SNP in condemning the way asylum seekers are treated in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. Tomorrow’s debate gives them all a chance to redeem themselves - even though that means criticising their colleagues in Edinburgh and London. We will be watching closely to see what they do.”


Notes: The Report referred to (A5-0281/2003) includes the following clauses:
22 – “Keep the detention of minors in …. holding centres for immigrants to a minimum”
43 – “Calls on the Member States to ensure by all possible means free and effective schooling for all children including …. refugee families. Urges Member States to do their utmost to ensure the effective integration in education systems of the children of refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants.”

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