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Calls for a fairer asylum system

23 October 09 08:19 GMT

The Scottish and British Refugee Councils are uniting in Glasgow to demand immediate changes to the UK asylum system.

They are expected to call for a 'fair and just asylum system' at the Scottish Refugee Council's annual conference.

The meeting will also look at the future of asylum in Scotland.

The councils believe all of those seeking asylum should be permitted to work while awaiting the result of their claim.

The conference will also debate the end of Section 4 and replacement with cash support for all asylum seekers until they return to their country of origin or are given status in the UK.

Strong reputation

Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council John Wilkes said: "Changes to the asylum system just last week show that the welfare and dignity of those seeking asylum is being eroded day by day.

"We must not forget that at the centre of this system are vulnerable people who have fled persecution and danger.

"Scotland has earned a strong reputation in standing up for the rights of those seeking sanctuary. Let's keep putting pressure on the authorities at all levels to ensure these rights continue to be recognised."

Chief Executive of the British Refugee Council Donna Covey said: "We appear to be moving further and further away from a system that is fair and just.

"Each year, it becomes harder for refugees to get to Britain and claim asylum.

"We are not asking for much. All we ask is that people whose lives are in danger are able to get to Britain, have their claim for asylum heard fairly, be adequately supported and allowed to work, and helped to integrate when they are given leave to stay.

"It is in everyone's interests that happens."

Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "We operate a fair asylum system that is monitored by the UN High Commission for Refugees and is overseen by our courts.

"Section 4 payments do not apply to asylum seekers, they are given to illegal immigrants whose asylum claims have been rejected by the UK Border Agency and by the courts.

"The payments are designed to allow the time to facilitate the voluntary return home by these failed asylum seekers and not to fund their continued illegal stay in UK."

He added: "The government is determined to meet its obligations and provide refuge to those who genuinely need it, however those who have been found not to need protection must return home."

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