Local MP questions Immigration Minister over Dungavel Detention

18 May 2009

UK Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has faced demands to explain why a four-year-old boy with health problems has been imprisoned in Dungavel –despite assurances given by the Scottish Secretary in October 2008 that detention of children at the institution would stop.

The Glasgow East SNP MP, John Mason, today (Monday) demanded answers at Home Office Questions after Fatou Felicite Gaye and her four-year-old son Arouna were held after a dawn raid in Sighthill, Glasgow and are now in Dungavel.

Speaking earlier today, Mr Mason said:

“The treatment of this young child and his mother is utterly shameful, and rips up the promise made by Jim Murphy that detention of children would end.

“There is no excuse for the UK Government’s actions concerning Fatou Felicite Gaye and her son Arouna. This four-year-old has already been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by previous interaction with the Border Agency.

“This is also clear and disgraceful breach of Jim Murphy’s promise last October to end the detention of children and breaks the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Only days after the Scottish Government announced a joint pilot with the UK Borders Agency to provide alternatives to locking innocent children up in Dungavel the UK Immigration Agency has done just that.

“The UK Government are detaining a child born in Scotland in an immigration centre that is not fit for children.

“Jim Murphy must end his silence has repeatedly failed to answer questions on the number of children held in Dungavel or to guarantee that no child would be held there in future. Now we know at least one child is in Dungavel and that is one too many.”


1. The detention of a woman and her four year old son at Dungavel is reported here;


2. The Scotland Office commitment to end detention of children at Dungavel is here;


3. A transcript of Mr Mason’s exchange with Phil Woolas is detailed below:

John Mason MP: Can the Minister tell us why a four-year-old boy with medical problems has been imprisoned at Dungavel in Lanarkshire.

Minister of State for Immigration: Mr Speaker, it would not be right of me to comment on individual cases . If the honourable gentleman wants to take that up with me, then I will of course respond to him duly. Of course, on the general policy of detaining children that is of course a last resort. We have in place the programmes to look at alternatives, but I have to say, Mr Speaker, that it is regrettable that on some occasions, people who have not co-operated with the decisions have been made by independent tribunals and courts, and who otherwise would abscond to face detention.