Report proposes "fair and humane" asylum system post referendum

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Asylum seekers and refugees can be particularly affected by hate crime

A “fair and humane” asylum system post referendum was the topic of a report launched last week at the Scottish Refugee Council’s Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh.

The report outlines the options for Scottish policy on refugee issues under each of the potential outcomes of the 2014 referendum on independence for Scotland.

With analysis of refugee policy in seven European countries along with Canada, Australia and the USA, the paper will help shape future Scottish policy whatever the result of the referendum.

Recommendations from the research include supporting refugees to integrate into life in Scotland from the moment of their arrival in the country, and allowing people to work in order to support themselves while their claim for asylum is determined.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council said:

 We hope that our research into future asylum policy in Scotland – a policy that is fair, humane and effective – provides a blueprint for policy-makers whether at Westminster or Holyrood.

“As an independent charity Scottish Refugee Council takes no view on the outcome of the referendum itself and consequently we will not take a position on any side of the debate in the run up to the referendum. Whether the Scottish constitution changes significantly or the constitutional settlement remains the same, maintains the rights and dignity of people seeking sanctuary in Scotland must be respected and upheld.

“Our ground-breaking research provides policy-makers with the insights and information required to help build a Scotland where people fleeing torture, terror and human rights abuses can live in safety and contribute fully to Scottish society.”

Professor James Mitchell, Head of the School of Government and Public Policy at Strathclyde University, provided advice to the Scottish Refugee Council research team.

Mr Mitchell, who will speak at today’s annual gathering, said:

 This is an important contribution that will inform debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.  It takes no sides in the debate on whether Scotland should be independent but identifies the key issues that need to be addressed by all sides. 

“Its simple starting point is that how we treat the most vulnerable is a measure of a good society.  The report is a challenge to all who take sides in the debate on Scotland’s future.”

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