Responding to the government publishing plans to disapply sections of the Human Rights Act to get around a Supreme Court ruling banning the deportation of people seeking asylum to Rwanda for processing, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said:
“The fact that the government is going to try to use its parliamentary majority to over-ride established human rights protections is an affront to democracy.
“We need a system that welcomes refugees through clear, open, safe and legal routes, that offers quick and efficient determinations and support for resettlement into local communities with properly funded local services.”
“Instead of creating an asylum system that works, the government is deliberately making it chaotic and inaccessible to put people off using their right to seek asylum.
“It is the use of cruelty and inhumanity as a tool of public policy and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
“Everyone deserves to be treated in a way that is fair and humane. This new legislation will remove fundamental legal protections designed to protect us all from the arbitrary power of the state.”
‘The Bill only targets the less well-off. There is no equivalent surveillance of legislators who accept payments to advance the interests of their corporate paymasters.’
Prem Sikka is an Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex and the University of Sheffield, a Labour member of the House of Lords, and Contributing Editor at Left Foot Forward.
George Orwell’s iconic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949, warns of a dystopian world where The Party or the government undermines people’s rights, independence and autonomy through fear and propaganda. Constant surveillance is a key weapon for disciplining people and shaping their minds.
That world has arrived in the UK, the self-proclaimed mother of parliaments. The new tyranny isn’t ushered in by some communist, socialist or military regime but by a right-wing elected government.
The Bill uses developments in electronic transactions and artificial intelligence to place the poor, disabled, sick, old and pregnant women under surveillance. It gives Ministers and government agencies powers to direct businesses, particularly banks, and financial institutions, to mass monitor individuals receiving welfare payments, even when there is no suspicion or any sign of fraudulent activity. No court order is needed and affected individuals will not be informed. The Bill enables Ministers to make any further regulations without a vote in parliament.
SUELLA BRAVERMAN may have done one thing for the protesters she has tried so hard to silence — ensure tomorrow’s Armistice Day march for peace has been the talk of the country all week.
Organisers believe the London demo will exceed even the half a million marchers of a fortnight ago. In some cities coach companies report having run out of coaches for hire — not something anti-war activists can remember happening since the biggest march in British history, that against war in Iraq, on February 15 2003.
The Home Secretary blusters that the “public expects” the police to crack down on these marches. Actually all polls show large majorities in favour of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which is precisely what the march demands.
It is not the Tory government with its stated desire that Israel “win” its genocidal assault on the Palestinians, nor the Labour opposition whose leadership continues to back a war in which tanks besiege hospitals and bombers flatten schools, who speak for public opinion. It is the marchers.
SUELLA BRAVERMAN’S attack on the homeless plumbs new depths from a minister already known for kicking downwards.
It combines a xenophobic jibe at foreigners with brazen victim-blaming, ludicrously terming rough sleeping a “lifestyle choice” when the rise in homelessness is demonstrably the fault of the Conservative government.
The Home Secretary knows that the homelessness crisis cannot be swept under the carpet.
Rough sleeping has risen by 74 per cent since 2010, according to the government’s own figures. The rapid provision of safe accommodation to thousands of homeless people during the pandemic showed rough sleeping can be ended almost overnight where there is the political will: but as soon as the lockdowns passed the will disappeared, and a 26 per cent rise in rough sleeping last year alone points to the devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Homeless Link CEO Rick Henderson pointed to the causes at the start of the year: “A shortage of affordable housing, an often punitive welfare system and increasingly stretched health services.”
The results are visible everywhere. It is now rare to take a journey in one of our larger cities without encountering beggars. This is an indictment of 13 years of Tory rule.
Refugee charity Care4Calais is seeking to sue the government for ‘segregating’ asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield
Suella Braverman faces a fresh legal challenge over the government’s treatment of asylum seekers held at a former RAF base that has been compared to “a military-style prison camp”.
Refugee charity Care4Calais is seeking to sue the government over its policy of warehousing asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield, which it claims amounts to a form of “segregation” and “quasi detention”.
The legal challenge comes weeks after asylum seekers at Wethersfield – a remote, 800-acre site in Essex, ringed by security fences, guards and CCTV – told openDemocracy they had been “locked up” in solitary confinement for complaining of depression.
In a private press briefing attended by openDemocracy today, Care4Calais said it is bringing the legal challenge after hearing testimonies from its clients living at the barracks.
A pre-action protocol letter issued by lawyers representing the charity accuses the home secretary of failing to fulfil her obligations of “ensuring an adequate standard of living and health for asylum seekers” under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
The letter states that “measures short of 24-hour physical confinement, where they substantively deprive a person of their liberty, may amount to detention at common law.”
Ali*, 24, who escaped the Taliban earlier this year, told openDemocracy that staff at Wethersfield locked him up in a room for two days after he complained that being held there was causing him to be depressed. “They’ve done this to me twice,” he said, adding that it has “happened to other people too”.
He continued: “If they go and tell [staff] they don’t feel well or they have depression… they lock them in a room for 48 hours and make them quarantine – and they’re not allowed out.
“Wethersfield is like a prison. It doesn’t feel like we’re in any kind of home or hotel room – we’ve just been thrown into a military-style prison camp.”
Two other men living at the barracks told this website of “prison-like conditions” that are affecting their mental health.
Braverman is accused of separating “asylum seekers, all or most of whom are non-British, and many of whom are also from ethnic minorities or non-white, from the wider UK population”.
Care4Calais’ legal challenge also raises the absence of an effective screening process for asylum seekers due to be accommodated at Wethersfield.
Survivors of torture and modern slavery, or those who suffer from serious mental health conditions, are routinely sent to the barracks, the charity said, but are transferred to hotels when their cases are individually raised in individual pre-action protocol letters.
In its press briefing today, Care4Calais said this has happened up to 20 times in the past few months.
Wethersfield is already the subject of a legal challenge from Braintree District Council, which objects to the Home Office’s plans to expand the site’s capacity. A High Court case brought by the council on 31 October will also hear evidence about the inappropriate use of the RAF base Scampton in Lincolnshire – which is due to open in weeks and house up to 2,000 men.
The government has until 7 November to respond to the letter, before proceedings for a full judicial review are initiated.