The second dawn raid in less than a week happened on the 12th of May. Bridget and her daughter Osaivbie O'Koro are the first 'legacy' case refusal family detained, a family which has been living in Scotland since 2004. They were taken to Yarlswood, instead of Dungavel as Dungavel is set to close. Removal directions are for 10am on Friday 16th May. We have only three days to arrange legal representation to try and stop the flight. This family needs your help, please take urgent action now! Instructions for helping are listed at the end of the article.
Protocol? What Protocol?
In Glasgow in the last eight months 800 families have been sent a "Legacy" questionnaire as part of the Home Office's 'Case Resolution' process aimed at clearing the backlog of cases of families who had been, in many cases, for almost seven years. The Home Office recently announced that 720 families out of 800 have been granted leave to remain and 80 families have been refused.
Two years ago the previous Labour Scottish Executive agreed a protocol with the Home Office that was supposed to minimise the trauma to children in families being forcibly removed as the result of political campaigns, community led protests and direct action by groups such as Glasgow No Borders and Unity. This protocol in particular involved the appointment of a 'Lead Professional' social worker to act as an advocate on behalf of the family refused the Legacy and to find out if there were any special factors that may impact upon the removal such as medical issues, particular close connections to the local community etc. Many lawyers and asylum seekers support groups were led to believe that that the Lead Professional would have four weeks to prepare a report for the Home Office to take into account before a person's Legacy case was rejected.
In practice however it appears that the Lead Professional is notified that they need to make a report for a family only after the Home Office have decided to refuse the Legacy review. As a result many suspect that the Lead Professional system is being cynically used by the Home Office to identify any issues that may stall a forced removal before the attempt to remove a family is made rather than to identify legitimate factors that should be taken into account before the Legacy is refused as the Scottish Government requested.
Of the families who have been refused the Legacy, the majority appear to have been refused on the grounds that they have failed to report at one time or another during the asylum process or alternatively that a member of the family has a criminal record even if this is only an admonishment at a Shreiff Court or a driving offence. In Scotland an admonishment is where the judge rules that there has been a technical breach of the law but no punishment is necessary. It is a verdict usually handed out when the Sheriff believes a case has been a waste of time and shouldn't have come to court. The Home Office however have decided however that such a verdict is enough to refuse the Legacy review for a number of families.
One of the very first things the SNP Executive of the Scottish government did when it came to power last May was to make very strong statements against the detention of children and the Home Office practice of dawn raids.
Yesterday morning the first family who had been refused the Legacy case were dawn raided.
Bridget O’Koro came to the UK in May 2004 when she was 24 years old. Yesterday morning she was woken up by loud banging on her door. It was six Immigration Enforcement and police officers. Terrified Bridget let them in because she didn't know what was happening. Once the police was in her house, Bridget collapsed in shock and her terrified, three year old daughter was taken to another room, crying loudly.
Very quickly, in less than half an hour, Bridget and her daughter were bundled into the van and driven to the Reporting Centre at Festival Court on Brand Street. In the van Osaivbie cuddled her mum and kept telling her that it would be alright. After two hours in the Home Office in Glasgow, Bridget and Osaivbie were driven in a van with blacked out windows to Dallas Court in Manchester and then eventually to Yarlswood detention centre, arriving there after a ten hour journey at 5pm in the evening.
The family have been given removal directions for 10am on Friday 16th May. we have only three days to arrange legal representation to try and stop the flight. This family needs your help, please take urgent action now!
"Don't worry mummy, it will be alright" She said, cuddling her mum in the cage in the back of the dawn raid van
Bridget had to flee Nigeria because she’d had a relationship with a man who was not a member of her Hausa tribe and was not a Muslim like her. When she became pregnant her father and members of the local Islamic Council threatened to kill her.
Five months after Bridget arrived in the UK, her daughter, Osaivbie, was born in October 2004. In March 2005, Bridget and her daughter had their asylum case refused by the Home Office. Then in November 2005, one week after her daughter’s first birthday, and after living in Manchester for eighteen months, Bridget and her year old baby were told to come to live in Glasgow.
In August 2006, Bridget and her daughter were one of about forty families in Glasgow who were told to voluntarily self check in at Glasgow airport for a removal flight back to their country of origin. When reporting at the Home Office in Glasgow, one Monday, Bridget and her daughter were handed the letter instructing them to report at the airport the following Friday to get on a flight back to Nigeria.
Unable to get her lawyer to help her in the short time available, Bridget did not go to the airport, just like all but one of the other forty families. Terrified that she and her daughter would be arrested by immigration officials and put in a detention centre the next time she went to report because she had not gone to the airport, Bridget stopped going to report at the Home Office.
This attempt to get forty families to self-check in for removal was part of a deliberate cycnical attempt by the Home Office to justify their policy of dawn raids which was at the time causing widespread controversy in Scotland. In an attempt to prove that dawn raids were necessary the pilot project was clearly deliberately designed to fail. Out of the blue families were given only days to prepare to self check in to Glasgow Airport and return to their country. There was no attempt to help families prepare for such a sudden and unexpected request and it is difficult to believe that the Home Office actually believed it would be successful. three months later Liam Byrne used the project in a major speech in an attempt to justify breaking down the doors of families and terrorising children.
Scared that they would be detained for failing to check in at the airport Bridget and Osaivbie then spent nine months sleeping on the floors of friends and supporters in Glasgow and living without any money until her lawyer lodged a fresh case in June 2007.
In August last year, the Home Office sent Bridget and her daughter a questionnaire as part of the ‘legacy review’ process being carried out on asylum cases made before April 2007.
Two weeks before Christmas, Bridget was given a letter telling her that her application for leave to remain under the legacy review had been refused on the grounds that she and her daughter “have not resided long enough in the UK to have established any significant strength of connections,” and because she had failed to go and report for 10 months.
Bridget’s lawyer lodged an appeal on Human Rights grounds that was heard at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the Eagle Buildings on Bothwell Street on Tuesday 8th January but this was rejected after the Immigration Judge decided that the Legacy review was no different from any other asylum process and that it mainly dealt with cases that had not yet been resolved.
All of the congregation of St Lawrence Parish Church in Drumchapel, Bridget's church, have signed a petition asking for the Home Office to reconsider Bridget's case.
Bridget urgently needs our support. It is not true to say that Bridget has not been in the UK long enough to make significant connections with the local community – she has lived here for four years and has made many friends in the local community and many families who have not lived here for as long have been given leave to remain by the Legacy review.
At the same time, Bridget should not be punished because she failed to go to the voluntary self-check in at Glasgow airport a year ago. As a young single mother with a twenty one month old daughter she was terrified about being forced to return to Nigeria.
1. Please fax Home Secretary Jacqui Smith by faxing: The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office 020-7035-4745 or from outside the UK +44 207 035 4745. Ask her to urgently reconsider the decision to reject Bridget's Legacy case.
When faxing Jacqui Smith please remember to include Bridget's Home Office reference number O1075156
2. Please phone Virgin Nigeria Airways and ask them not to take this family on Friday. Please remember to quote Flight number VK295 5 Nigeria at 10.05am
(07:00 - 22:00 , Monday to Friday),
(07:00 - 20:00, Saturday and Sunday):
+44 844 412 1788
3. Finally please fax or phone or email Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning
Telephone: 0131 348 5921 Email Fiona.Hyslop.email@example.com
Fax: 0131 348 5708
Alternatively contact the Scottish Government's Equality Unity at Equality Unit, Scottish Government, Area 2G, Victoria Quay, EDINBURGH EH6 6QQ Tel: 0131 556 8400 or 08457 741741 (for UK local rate)
No fax machine? No matter!
If you have a computer and access to the internet you do not need a fax machine to fax.
There are two methods of faxing:
1. From your browser go to: http://www.tpc.int/sendfax.html
(the number must be entered with the country code so 020 7035 4745 (Home Office) would be 44 20 7035 4745
2. Send a fax via email -
Use this email address format : remote-printer.recipient_name@fax_number.iddd.tpc.int
So, to send the fax to Jacqui Smith put: remote-printer.Jacqui_Smith@442070354745.iddd.tpc.int
Just copy your fax message into the body of the email.)
From the Unity Centre