Dean of Faculty welcomes Crown’s non-penalisation of refugees policy

James Wolffe QC

The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, James Wolffe QC, has welcomed the Crown’s publication of a policy on non-penalisation of refugees.

Earlier this year, the Faculty sponsored a Scottish Refugee Council conference, “Prosecute or Protect”, and one of the themes was the absence, by contrast with the position in England & Wales, of a policy in Scotland.

At the conference, the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, had made clear his intention to remedy the gap.

“This has now been achieved,” said Mr Wolffe, in a blog on the new website of the Faculty’s Human Rights and Rule of Law Committee.

He added: “I warmly welcome the publication of this policy and the Lord Advocate is to be congratulated on taking this issue forward.”

“It is particularly heartening that the policy should have been published at this time. None of us should minimise the public interest in the proper enforcement of immigration laws.

“But at the same time, the duty on states to give asylum to those who face a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country is a moral imperative as well as an obligation in international law.

“The displacement of populations by war and civil strife, the ease of international mobility, the potential difficulty of distinguishing the genuine refugee from the economic migrant or, indeed, from the person who would do us serious harm – all of these challenge our commitment to the protection of refugees.

“But this country has a long and honourable record of giving refuge to people fleeing persecution, and we cannot fail to meet the claims of people in that situation just because it is difficult or inconvenient to do so.”

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