Raising awareness of refugees' protection against prosecution

01 Apr

A vital piece of asylum legislation will be highlighted at a major Faculty-sponsored event, as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Scottish Refugee Council.

The 1951 Refugee Convention, at article 31 (1), can in stipulated circumstances provide a defence for refugees against prosecution for offences related to illegal entry or presence in the UK.

Campaigners fear that there is a limited awareness and practical application of article 31 (1), which was incorporated into domestic law by the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, and point to five cases in England in 2013 where the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of refugees who had been prosecuted for false documentation offences. It has been estimated that potentially thousands of similar prosecutions could have been mounted in England and Wales.

The aim of the Faculty/Scottish Refugee Council event is to raise awareness of the refugees' rights under the Convention and the statutory defence. It will also provide practical guidance for dealing with cases.

The speakers at "Prosecute or Protect? Article 31 (1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Criminal Justice System in Scotland" will include the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, QC, and the Dean of Faculty, James Wolffe, QC.

Others giving talks are Joe Bryce, Advocate, Yewa Holiday, of Queen Mary University, London, John Wilkes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, and Peter Grady, from the Office of the UK Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The event, on 21 May in Faculty Hall, Royal Faculty of Procurators, Nelson Mandela Square, Glasgow, is free but delegates must register in advance at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/prosecute-or-protect-article-31-1-of-the-1951-refugee-convention-and-the-criminal-justice-system-in-tickets-16216568192