New legislation will support all children arriving in Scotland alone

Date: 27th October 2015
Category: Refugee , migrant and asylum-seeking children, Children in situations of exploitation, Child trafficking

Historic legislation to protect children at risk of trafficking and exploitation was passed in the Scottish Parliament on 1 October 2015. The Human Trafficking (Scotland) Bill now ensures that all children who arrive in Scotland alone and separated from their families have the right to an independent 'guardian' to advise and assist them.

The Scottish Guardianship Service, delivered in partnership by the Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Child Care Trust, provides refugee children who have been separated from their parents with essential independent advice and advocacy.

Many of these children are survivors of trafficking. The Guardians make sure that each of these young people receive all the help they need to rebuild their lives in Scotland. The Guardians act as independent advocates for each child, helping them with everything from their health and wellbeing to housing issues, dealing with lawyers and helping them to build social networks and feel less alone in Scotland.

The new Scottish legislation places a duty on Scottish Ministers to provide guardianship to children and young people who are survivors or potential survivors of trafficking.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive at Scottish Refugee Council said:

"All children need to feel safe and this is especially true for young people who arrive in a foreign country separated from their parents and families.

"These young people arrive alone and are often confused and very frightened. Often they arrive in a state of trauma and shock because of the experiences they have fled. Having a Guardian by their side and on their side makes a huge difference to their ability to recover from their experiences and to thrive as young people in Scotland.

"We are delighted that the right to a guardian has been put into Scots law and that it has been extended to all unaccompanied children arriving in Scotland. We know from our work that any child who is separated from their parents and living in a foreign country is at risk of trafficking and exploitation. It is hugely significant that the Scottish Parliament has recognised this vulnerability and taken appropriate steps to provide essential support and protection to people most in need of it."