A church minister is calling on the Home Secretary to show “compassion, decency and common sense” in the case of a 13-year-old boy whose leave to remain in the UK has expired.
Giorgi Kakava, 13, was three when he fled to Scotland from Georgia with his mother Sopio Baikhadze, who died in 2018.
He was granted permission to stay in the UK along with his grandmother and legal guardian, Ketino Baikhadze, in July 2018 after the Church of Scotland launched a campaign. However, their residence permits expired in December.
Reverend Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow, said it is a “scandal and a moral outrage” that Giorgi is still living in uncertainty.
An immigration lawyer is preparing a new residence application for both Giorgi and his 62-year-old grandmother, and more than 90,000 people have signed a petition calling for the teenager to be allowed to stay in Glasgow.
Mr Casey said: “This is a human rights issue and I hope people will sign the petition and join me in urging Home Secretary Priti Patel to look at this case with compassion, decency and common sense.
“After Giorgi’s mother died, the local community rallied around him and the outpouring of love and concern was overwhelming.
“Despite having a very tough start to life, he has grown into a fine young man and I have been so inspired by his progress.
“He loves football, boxing and is good at maths and science.
“Giorgi is a delight to be around and I fully believe that if we support him now, he will become an asset to our country in the future.”
The boy’s mother fled Georgia after she discovered his father – who later died – owed money to gangsters there and she feared her son’s life was at risk.
The minister said her dying wish was that Giorgi grew up as a Scottish boy in a safe and secure environment.
Mr Casey and Father John McGrath, of St Aloysius Church, conducted a Georgian style funeral for Giorgi’s mother at Springburn Parish Church.
Her body was repatriated to Georgia for burial and a memorial tree was planted in the church garden.
Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner, said: “Before decisions are made about a child’s immigration and asylum status, their human rights and best interests must be at the heart of decision making.
“Decisions should take into account the impact on the full range of the child’s human rights, including rights to an education, to respect for private and family life, and to mental health, as well as their ability to adjust to life in what is, to them, a foreign country.
“Where a child has spent the majority of their childhood in Scotland, it is unlikely to be in their best interests to return them to a country they have limited or no memory of.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “It is wrong to claim we are threatening to remove either Ms Batkhadze or her grandson.
“They were granted limited leave to remain in the UK and currently have a further application outstanding, which we are processing.
“They will be updated as soon as possible about their application.”