Protecting migrants’ rights in an independent Scotland

Proposal to create Migrants’ Commissioner.

An independent Migrants’ Commissioner would stand up for the rights of people who have moved to an independent Scotland, under Scottish Government proposals.

The latest ‘Building a New Scotland’ prospectus paper, which focuses on citizenship in an independent Scotland, sets out how a commissioner could advocate for migrants, including protecting the rights of EU citizens.

The creation of an independent Migrants’ Commissioner was a key recommendation of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review and would bring Scotland into line with countries like Germany. The UK Government has declined to implement this recommendation.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Migrants are an important part of the fabric of Scottish society - enriching our culture, boosting our economy and contributing to our communities.

“After independence, this government would appoint a Migrants’ Commissioner to speak up for individuals and families, including the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who call Scotland home, to ensure migrants’ voices are heard at the highest level.

“Unlike the UK Government, who rejected the Windrush review’s recommendation to establish this role, we are committed to protecting the rights and equality of migrants - alongside all our citizens - in an independent nation.

“Under our proposals, it will be up to individuals to decide whether Scottish citizenship is something they want to pursue, but we are clear that people from around the world will always be welcome in Scotland.”


Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned Review

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was an independent review into the Windrush scandal. The scandal involved a series of events in which British citizens and legal residents of the UK who had arrived from the Caribbean and Commonwealth countries before 1973 were wrongly detained, denied rights and access to service, and deported. Wendy Williams led the review and published her findings in March 2020. The review found that the Windrush scandal was "foreseeable and avoidable" and that the Home Office’s failures were systemic.

Williams made 30 recommendations to improve the Home Office's handling of immigration cases. These included a recommendation to, ‘introduce a Migrants’ Commissioner responsible for speaking up for migrants and those affected by the system directly or indirectly.’ The UK Government initially accepted all the recommendations but in January 2023 the Home Secretary said she would drop three of the recommendations, including the commitment to introduce a migrants’ commissioner. 

Building a new Scotland 

Building a New Scotland series  

Five papers have now been published. They set out evidence showing independent countries comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK; how Scottish democracy can be renewed with independence; the macroeconomic framework, including currency arrangements, for an independent Scotland; how a written constitution could put democracy, rights and equality at the heart of everything we do; and citizenship.


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