First Minister urges Home Office to treat orphan asylum case with compassion

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the Home Office to “urgently review” the case of a 10-year-old orphan seeking asylum in Scotland and allow him to stay in the only home he has ever known.

The First Minister said she hoped the Home Office would treat Giorgi Kakava’s case with “compassion and common sense”.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament today, Ms Sturgeon said she hoped officials would put the schoolboy’s best interests at the heart of decision making.

Giorgi was just three when he and his mother Sopio fled Georgia, a former Soviet republic on the border of Europe and Asia, and sought asylum in Glasgow because his life was allegedly threatened by people his late father is said to have owed money to.

His mother died in February after a long illness while awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum for her and her son, leaving his future uncertain.

Giorgi’s grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, is now his legal guardian, and is also seeking asylum so she can stay in Glasgow and look after him.

The campaign to stop the schoolboy from being deported is led by Rev Brian Casey of Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow, who conducted Sopio’s funeral along with Father John McGrath, parish priest of nearby St Aloysius Church.

The minister launched an online petition which has been signed by more than 70,000 people.

Ketino Baikhadze
Ketino Baikhadze and her grandson, Giorgi,

Mr Casey said: “I am very pleased and grateful that the First Minister has pledged her personal support to try and keep Giorgi in the city where he belongs.

“He is, by all intents and purposes, a wee Scottish boy who loves football, boxing, playing the guitar and has lots of friends.

“I pray that the Home Office listen to Miss Sturgeon’s pleas and demonstrate compassion and decency when considering his case.”

Giorgi’s plight was raised at First Minister’s Questions by Bob Doris, MSP for Maryhill and Springburn.

He said: “Giorgi knows only Springburn and Scotland, having been here since he was three years old.

“Does the First Minister agree that the Home Office must conduct Giorgi’s case with compassion and that it must move quickly to give certainty, safety and security to Giorgi?”

Mr Doris urged Ms Sturgeon to make representations to Home Secretary Sajid Javid and make the case that Scotland is Giorgi’s home and is where he should grow up.

Rev Brian Casey
Rev Brian Casey and Ketino Baikhadze, Giorgi's grandmother, outside a Home Office building in Glasgow.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a really tragic situation and it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear what Giorgi has been through.

“That said, I have been deeply touched—as I am sure that everyone else has—to hear how the local community in Springburn has rallied round, really proving that people make Glasgow.

“In achieving more than 70,000 signatures, the Rev Brian Casey’s petition shows the strength of feeling that people have for a child who has lost his parents and has only ever known Scotland, our country, as his home.

“Giorgi’s case needs common sense, but, above all, it needs compassion.

“I hope that the Home Office will urgently review it with Giorgi’s best interests at the heart of its decision making.”

Ms Sturgeon said Giorgi’s best interests must be the “only factor” in Home Office decision making.

“I hope that the outcome of the case is that Giorgi is allowed to stay here and grow up here and, as he does so, to make a fantastic contribution to the country that he not only calls home but which considers itself to be his home.”