Conference calls for unity to ensure protection for asylum seekers and refugees is upheld under asylum review

Leaders from the field of human rights will stand together today [Friday, 29 October] to demand better protection for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

Representatives of Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner and LGBT equality charity Stonewall Scotland join Scottish Refugee Council for their autumn conference at Hampden Park.

They will call for united support for those who desperately need our protection from war, persecution and human rights abuses, as the UK Government reviews the asylum process.

John Wilkes, Scottish Refugee Council Chief Executive, said: “We welcome announcements made by the new UK coalition government on ending child detention and improving the protection offered to people who are persecuted because of their sexuality.

“But we must not take our eye off the ball. Cuts to the public sector will without doubt make life for those who seek protection here even harder. Set in that context, it’s crucial that we stand together to ensure the review is positive and fair, and that the UK continues to fulfil its duty to provide protection under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention’.

Speaking on behalf of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Acting Head of Policy Nico Juetten said how pleased they were that the UK Government has now committed to ending the detention of children.

“Detaining children for immigration purposes offends their dignity and rights, and the psychological and physical health impacts of even short periods of detention are now well-documented.

“We now look forward to the announcement by the UK Government of a new way of treating children in asylum-seeking families, which does not involve detention and respects their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Carl Watt, Director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Since the publication of our research into the experiences of lesbian and gay asylum seekers six months ago we have seen some very positive improvements, including the development of guidance and a training programme for UKBA staff.

“This conference gives us the opportunity to share this work with a wider audience and we hope that it and the recent landmark judicial rulings, will ensure that  lesbian and gay people seeking asylum are treated with the appropriate level of empathy and understanding .”

Speakers are available for interview prior to and during the conference. Please call Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927 or 07734 030763 for details.

Read the conference programme   

Notes to editors

Scottish Refugee Council’s Autumn Conference, ‘A Fresh Start? The new Government’s agenda for reforming the asylum system in the UK’, takes place on Friday 29 October from 9.30am – 4.30pm at Hampden Park, Glasgow.

Speakers are available for interview.

Schedule of speakers:

9.00am Coffee and registration begins

9.30am Introduction by Glenn Campbell

9.40am Bill Brandon, Deputy Director, UK Border Agency

10.10am John Wilkes, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council

10.40am Nico Juetten, Acting Head of Policy, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

11:10am Tea/coffee break

11.40am Carl Watt, Director, Stonewall Scotland

12.10pm Colin Lancaster, Director of Policy and Development, Scottish Legal Aid Board

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland. We also provide specialist services in areas such as housing and welfare, women's issues, community development, the media and the arts.

We play a leading role in policy development and campaign on refugee issues to ensure that Scotland plays a full role in meeting the UK's legal and humanitarian obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.