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70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention – a statement from Traci Kirkland, our Head of Charity

The UN Refugee Convention placed the rights of refugees under international law. All of the 149 countries who signed up made a legal commitment to protect people fleeing war and persecution in other countries.

The UK’s commitment to this convention has seen us play an extremely important role in saving lives and welcoming diversity into our communities. Scotland have benefited greatly from welcoming people seeking sanctuary to call Scotland their new home. This is something that the UK should be proud of. Recent polls have shown that almost 75% of Scots want to continue to welcome New Scots.

Sadly, the UK’s proposed UK Nationality and Borders Bill places all that under serious threat. It shifts the focus away from the traumatic and inhumane experiences individuals have fled, and focusses on judging people on the route and means by which they arrived in the UK. Therefore, it creates an unfair 2-tier system and potentially penalises those who have arrived seeking our protection. This bill directly contradicts the Convention:

“The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules. Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or criminal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum.”

GCP and our colleagues in the sector stand #TogetherWithRefugees. We oppose this inhumane bill and would urge everyone to support our refugee and asylum community members by writing to their MPs asking them to reject this bill and lobby for positive change.

The recent event in Kenmure Street in Glasgow demonstrated that this is not how Scottish people want our friends and neighbours to be treated and that refugees are always welcome here in Scotland. Let’s stand together to oppose this bill and campaign for the rights of refugees, and value and celebrate the rich, diverse nation we have become.


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