Scottish Refugee Council To Set Out Principles

Scotland can become a "beacon'' for the rest of the UK and Europe when it comes to protecting refugees, the Scottish Refugee Council has said.

The organisation will set out six principles for the protection of refugees as stages its annual general meeting in Glasgow on Friday.

The principles set a benchmark for how asylum seekers and refugees' rights should be respected, and ensure they are welcomed and treated with dignity, it said.

Syrian refugees began arriving in Scotland in November as part of the UK Government's pledge to accept 20,000 by 2020 to help with the refugee crisis.

The principles include "responsibility sharing'', with all states playing a proportionate role, effective access to asylum procedure, a fair and efficient asylum process, conditions during the asylum procedure that promote dignity, empowerment and integration, and integration policies that enable refugees to make a positive contribution to their new communities.

It also calls for people found not to be in need of protection to only be returned after a "fair and thorough examination'' of their application, and in a "safe, dignified and humane way''.

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.''

He added: "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 Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is among the speakers at the AGM.

She is expected to say: "In 2015 Scotland spoke with one voice to say that refugees were welcome.

"The challenge for 2016 is ensuring that that goodwill remains as families settle into new communities across Scotland.

"Scotland has been too divided in recent years. It was heartening in 2015 to see the country say refugees are welcome, in 2016 we ensure that these families stay welcome.''

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