A “BLUEPRINT” for a fairer asylum system – which under an independent Scotland would mean people seeking refuge would be guaranteed a fair hearing of their case, have the right to work, and would not be detained ­– has been unveiled at the SNP conference.

The proposals, commissioned by the SNP Westminster group, looked at ways in which the UK asylum system­ – which it is claimed by researchers is “inhumane and ineffective" – could be made “fit for purpose” in Scotland.

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They were debated at a SNP fringe event yesterday, which aimed to build on commitments made to offer refugees better protection, made in the 2014 White Paper that laid out the case for independence.

Proposals have been informed by examples from countries such as Canada, Sweden and Finland, which are to be more progressive in terms of how they treat refugees. While many of the proposals could only be achieved if Scotland voted for independence, a few of the policy suggestions could be possible even if Scotland remained in the UK, it was claimed.

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Written by lead researcher Helen Baillot, the detailed 115-page report suggests Scotland should set up a fairer, more humane asylum system under which refugees are able work to fill Scottish skills gaps. It argues the system should also allow access to mainstream welfare benefits and claims that there is no evidence that this would be a “pull” factor to Scotland.

It is proposed that under an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government could set-up an arms-length decision making organisation, with would ensure life and death decisions made about whether someone had the right to stay in the country are “de-politicised”. Careful recruitment and training would aim to tackle the “culture of disbelief” which the report claims is rife in the current system.

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Punitive policies that see asylum seekers left destitute and street homeless – or in other cases detained indefinitely at Dungavel detention centre – under the current UK system would be replaced with community alternatives and early access to good quality legal advice that helps people properly explore their options.

Citizens' Assemblies are also suggested to discuss and shape reforms.

Baillot said: "Our report gives a detailed blueprint for a future refugee status determination system that could be implemented if Scotland were an independent nation.

“This would allow for the introduction of an entirely new system, with human rights at its core, discarding punitive and ineffective measures such as immigration detention; and bringing decisions on whether to grant asylum under the purview of an independent refugee status determination agency. The blueprint has been inspired by different

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country models most notably in Canada where an independent agency already takes responsibility for decision-making on asylum claims. The report also recognises the far more positive political discourse and support for refugee integration from within the Scottish Government.

“The changes we propose for Scotland would bring people from the margins into the mainstream of our society, and would enshrine better human rights’ protection for all members of our communities.”

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In 2017 just over 26,000 people claimed asylum in the UK, with about 10% of people “dispersed” to live in accommodation provided by the Home Office in Glasgow, the only dispersal city in Scotland.

About 5000 asylum seekers are currently living in the city, with some opting to stay when they are granted refugee status. More than 1000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in towns and cities around Scotland under a UNHCR’s scheme.

Stuart McDonald, SNP spokesman for Immigration, Asylum and Border Control said: “The aim of this research is to kick start a discussion so that we can try to build on the recommendations made by the White Paper in 2014.

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"The UK asylum system is beset with problems and the Home Office is marred in a culture of disbelief. It really falls down in terms of both detention and immigration control. The report addresses those problems and there are a lot of potential solutions in there.”

He claimed that Scottish Government policies of supporting integration, and UK Government immigration policies were “almost polar opposites” and said as an SNP politician he “looked forward to implementing a fairer Scottish system as soon as possible”.

But he said it was important to look for engagement across the political divide. “Even for parties who are not in favour of independence there is a need to listen to the changes that need to happen,” he added.

Gary Christie, head of policy for Scottish Refugee Council polling suggested there was public support for a more humane approach to refugee protection.

He added: “Every day we see resilient men, women and children whose lives are put on hold or shattered by a failing asylum system.

“Forced evictions of people seeking asylum in Glasgow, damning inquiries into immigration detention, asylum accommodation and destitution by the UK and Scottish Parliaments and over 12,000 asylum cases languishing in the Home Office for more than six months are just a handful of the many appalling examples that point to a failing, inhumane, hostile and bureaucratic UK asylum system.

“The report draws on international good practice and our own key principles for how refugees and communities welcoming refugees should be treated.

"It makes a strong and well-evidenced case for the creation of a new independent asylum agency to assess claims by people seeking our protection.

“We urge not just the SNP to adopt the recommendations of this report but other political parties as well.”

The Home Office has consistently insisted that it has “a proud tradition” of those seeking refugee protection, and aims to treat everyone with dignity and respect.