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Scotland can lead the way in humane treatment of refugees

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Scottish Refugee Council sets out principles for the humane treatment of of refugees as it celebrates its 30th year.

Refugees must have better protection in light of the unfolding humanitarian crisis, which has seen the highest number of displaced persons since records began.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) made the call at its annual general meeting, which also marked the end of the charity’s 30th year.

It set out six principles which is says should be a benchmark on how asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights should be respected.

Scotland can be a beacon for the rest of the UK and Europe in how to treat refugees

Set out in the charity’s Key Principles of Development, these would ensure refugees are welcomed, treated with dignity and empowered to play a full and equal role in their new communities.

The principles (below) are consistent with international, European and domestic human rights and refugee law and are based on the SRC’s experience of working with and for refugees in Scotland, the UK and Europe.

Gary Christie, 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.”

Scottish Refugee Council's Key Principles of Development

  1. Global solidarity and responsibility sharing with all states playing a proportionate role inproviding solutions to displacement
  2. Effective access to anasylum 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 afair and thorough examinationof their application, and in a safe,dignified and humane way