Scotland can be a beacon for a more fair and humane system for refugees

Principles of Protection Jan 2016 2
Scottish Refugee Council launches its Principles of Protection at its AGM

Scottish Refugee Council is calling for better protection for refugees in light of the unfolding humanitarian crisis, which has seen the highest number of displaced persons since records began.

At its AGM and public meeting today – with speakers including Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government Minister for Europe and International Development and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale – the charity will launch its Key Principles of Protection to mark the end of its 30th anniversary year.

The six principles set a benchmark for how asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights should be respected, and to ensure that they are welcomed, treated with dignity and empowered to play a full and equal role in their new communities.

These Key Principles of Protection are consistent with international, European and domestic human rights and refugee law and are based on Scottish Refugee Council’s 30 years’ experience of working with and for refugees in Scotland, the UK and Europe.

Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council’s Head of Policy and Communications said: “In our 30th anniversary year we have witnessed ever greater numbers of people fleeing for their lives in pursuit of safety. The response in Scotland to this has been overwhelming. Thousands of people from all walks of life took to the streets across Scotland to offer solidarity to refugees fleeing Syria. And more than 3,500 Scots have offered their time and skills to support newly-arrived Syrian refugees via the Scotland Welcomes Refugees website.

“Yet, across Europe we are seeing many Governments pull back on their obligations to protect refugees whether this be putting up barbed wire fences in Hungary or plans to seize the assets of asylum seekers in Denmark. 

“In the UK, at the Conservative Party Conference in September, Theresa May set out dangerous and worrying plans to attempt to tamper with the international legal definition of who qualifies as a refugee, seeking to portray refugees who claim asylum in Britain as less deserving of protection than refugees who remain in camps. The Immigration Bill making its way through Westminster will further erode rights of some refugees to have their appeal heard in the UK and seeks to take the hideous and inhumane step of withdrawing support from families.

“In light of these disturbing developments, our key principles of protection set out standards for how refugees must be treated. Scotland can be a beacon for the rest of the UK and Europe in how to treat refugees and a place where powers to deliver them are devolved are put into practice.”

Scottish Refugee Council calls on all states and authorities to adopt six Principles of Protection:

  1. Global solidarity and responsibility sharing with all states playing a proportionate role in providing solutions to displacement
  2. Effective access to an asylum procedure
  3. A fair and efficient asylum process
  4. Reception conditions during the asylum procedure that promote dignity, empowerment and integration
  5. Integration policies that enable refugees to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution to their new communities.
  6. People found not to be in need of protection should only be returned after a fair and thorough examination of their application, and in a safe, dignified and humane way.

You can download the full version of the Principles of Protection document.

Scottish Refugee Council campaigns for refugee’s rights and helps those who have fled from wars, conflict or persecution in their homeland to rebuild their lives by providing essential information, advice and support.