Communities across Scotland have long played a proud and welcoming part in offering shelter to those seeking asylum. Our history of fairness, dignity and respect are shown in the recent outpouring of public support for helping those in need fleeing across Europe.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the Governments at Holyrood and Westminster to offer our assistance and expertise as they develop plans to tackle the current refugee crisis. We, in towns and cities all over Scotland, have a role to play. We must demonstrate that refugees are welcome in this country, that we will support their inclusion in our society to make it a more diverse and tolerant place. This should be in keeping with the international laws for the right to asylum which must always be upheld.
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prescribes that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries, provided it is appropriately invoked. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will support efforts that welcome refugees and protect their human rights.
Together, we need to recognise and challenge any attempt to discriminate against refugees, directly or indirectly. This might mean we need to look critically at our own actions and those of our friends, families, colleagues and neighbours. It might mean we have to challenge and speak out against hurtful language or deeds. It also might mean that our public services need to look again at how they provide essential health, care, education, employment and support services to these groups of people who come to Scotland seeking a safe and secure future.
We should continue to show compassionate leadership on this matter, reflecting our influence and the extent to which we benefit culturally and economically from migration so we can let the world know that refugees are welcome here.
Equality and Human Rights Commission