• Letter of support for #Uju_Anya after she was targeted by Jeff Bezos and her employer for her criticism of the Queen’s commitments to colonial violence

    Dear Supporters of Dr. Uju Anya,

    Dr. Uju Anya is a world-renowned Nigerian-Trinidadian-American Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University. Her groundbreaking research focuses on the experiences of African American students in world language education. She brings attention to systemic barriers that African American students face in accessing world language education and the marginalization they experience in world language classrooms. Yet, her research isn’t only focused on these challenges. Her work points to concrete ways of making world language education more equitable. The significance and quality of her scholarship can be seen in the fact that her widely-cited book, Racialized Identities in Second Language Language: Speaking Blackness in Brazil (https://www.routledge.com/Racialized-Identities-in-Second-Language-Learning-Speaking-Blackness-in/Anya/p/book/9780367197469), was awarded the prestigious 2019 American Association for Applied Linguistics First Book Award (https://www.aaal.org/first-book-award).

    Dr. Anya has also been at the forefront of leading efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of applied linguistics, a field that has struggled to diversify and that remains white dominated. She mentors Black students and other students of color, as well as assume leadership roles in a range of professional organizations, such as the American Association for Applied Linguistics where she amplifies the voices of emerging scholars of color. She has also been able to amass a broad social media presence on Twitter that showcases her love of Black people across the Diaspora, her passion for uplifting the voices LGBTQA+ persons, and a space for collective joy.

    The Issue

    On September 8, 2022, shortly before Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96, Dr. Anya tweeted her feelings about the queen’s death. As a Black woman who was born in Nigeria, whose family has been directly harmed by the insidious impacts of British imperialism, genocide, and white supremacy, Dr. Anya expressed her pain on her personal Twitter account. Not only did Queen Elizabeth II sit on a throne of Indigenous and Black blood, embedded in the overall legacy of the British monarchy, her actual government presided over and directly facilitated the genocide that Dr. Anya’s parents and siblings barely survived (https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-04-29-how-britains-labour-government-facilitated-the-massacre-). This genocide entailed the massacre of more than 3 million Igbo people, including other family members of Dr. Anya. While within public discourse, the term “colonizer” can appear to be an abstract term that people have only read about in history books, Dr. Anya experienced the reverberations of colonial white supremacy first hand. Thus, Queen Elizabeth II was not figuratively but literally her colonizer, and the colonizer of millions of people across the world—and particularly countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Indian Ocean territories. As if these atrocities weren’t enough, during her tenure, Queen Elizabeth II oversaw ​​the brutal detainment camps in colonial Kenya (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/09/world/africa/queen-africa-british-empire.html), banned ‘’coloured or foreign’ staff in the palace (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jun/02/buckingham-palace-banned-ethnic-minorities-from-office-roles-papers-rev), and committed her career to the “service of our great imperial family’’ in a 1947 speech in South Africa (https://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-monarchy-has-benefited-from-colonialism-and-slavery-1). Over the course of more than 70 years, the imperial reign of Queen Elizabeth II was inextricably tied to the legacy of the British Empire’s commitment to white supremacy and colonialism.

    Dr. Uju Anya’s tweet, again sent from her personal Twitter account, quickly went viral—largely due to an outpouring of global support from others harmed by the British colonial regime. At the same time, there was also a torrent of criticism as well as targeted harassment directed against Dr. Anya. While “going viral” is not an uncommon occurrence for Dr. Anya or any public intellectual, having a tweet picked up by billionaire Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos was however extraordinary. Bezos did not condemn the words and sentiment of Dr. Anya’s tweet, which would’ve been his right to free speech. Instead, he vilified her by suggesting that her pedagogical, activist, and scholarly contributions are “supposedly” not “working to make the world better.” We beg to differ, as would the many students with improved experiences in world language education and the increasing number of African American students entering applied linguistics because they now see themselves within historically white spaces precisely because of the groundwork laid by Dr. Anya. Although this particular tweet would’ve been highly inappropriate from any person in power, it is particularly pernicious as an attack against a Black Nigerian-Trinidadian-American Professor, coming from a man that has amassed his wealth through global domination and exploitation without regard for the most vulnerable and precarious humans on our planet (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/26/amazon-workers-are-rising-up-around-the-world-to-say-enough). This is, frankly, not dissimilar to the British monarchy’s colonial project—Bezos simply remixed the colonial schema through neoliberal racial capitalism, exploitation, and greed.

    The strength of Bezos’ platform is no secret either. With over 5 million followers on Twitter, Bezos has the capacity to impress hundreds of millions of people with a single tweet. Bezos also utilizes his reputation and mass fortune to support university projects across the globe. In the last decade Bezos has made donations to countless universities, including Carnegie Mellon University—Dr. Anya’s home institution. This financial paper trail is highly relevant to Professor Anya’s treatment and the university’s subsequent statement. Now, Dr. Anya faces violent threats, harassment, and abuse.

    Reflections on CMU’s Statement on Dr. Anya’s Tweet

    As colleagues at other institutions, one thing that sticks out to us is that universities have nothing to gain by calling out individual employees on free speech—especially when they can be seen doing it selectively—as is the case for CMU. Professor Anya’s twitter clearly states: “Views are mine.” Yet, her institution took up the charge to admonish a Black woman professor, calling her response to her lived experiences of the real and tangible impacts of colonialism and white supremacy, "offensive and objectionable.” This is unacceptable and dehumanizing. Simultaneously, the institution arguing that Professor Anya’s critical reflections were "not representative of the level of discourse at CMU ’’ forces us to ask: Where is the space for this sort of discourse if not within the free speech that academia purports to uplift? Where else is it safe for students, scholars, and thinkers alike to openly express the horrors of white supremacy, colonial atrocities and genocide? “Who is the ‘we’ referenced here?” asks UPenn Professor, Dr. Nelson Flores (https://twitter.com/nelsonlflores/status/1568217467058544643). And, importantly, “What are the standards of discourse when somebody is speaking truth to their oppressors?”

    (https://twitter.com/ProfeRandolph/status/1568238263579693061?s=20&t=zDodej-DbG_rmHMhjurGtg).

    We also note the strikingly different institutional response to the social media activity of Richard Grenell, a CMU-affiliated senior fellow and Trump official who used his Twitter platform to spread hateful messages and conspiracy theories that have been characterized as sinophobic and antisemitic. When student groups and community members expressed outrage and alarm, CMU President Farnam Jahanian refused to condemn Grennell’s statements and instead expressed strong support for his first amendment rights (https://www.cmu.edu/leadership/president/campus-comms/2020/2020-11-18.html).

    As a counter example to CMU’s deplorable response, Syracuse University’s Chancellor and Dean issued a statement in support of their colleague and employee (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/09/14/syracuse-offers-unequivocal-support-targeted-professor), Dr. Jenn Jackson (another Black woman violently threatened and abused after a viral tweet). Her institution immediately denounced the violent threats against her, refused to sanction or discipline her, and honored her right to free speech. While we by no means think this process was or is perfect, we cite this to note that other peer-institutions have responded in more humane and supportive ways to their Black female faculty. CMU had a choice and their response was a deliberate betrayal against one of their own highly regarded and respected scholars. It has further exposed her to threats of violence.

    Forward and Onward

    The British Monarchy and “The Royal Family” are much more than the weddings, the kids, and the racialized intrafamily drama that American pop culture has seen over the past decade. The British Monarchy has caused and is directly responsible for widespread irreparable harm in the past, now in the present, and likely in the future because the impacts of white supremacy and settler colonialism are insidious. It is inappropriate, harmful, and ahistorical to admonish colonized people or “tell them how they should feel about their colonizer’s health and wellness” as University of Michigan tenured professor, Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas astutely tweeted.

    More than our thoughts and prayers, we request actionable support to be shown towards Professor Uju Anya. We ask university officials at CMU to consider what harms are both elided from critical discourse and reproduced in the classroom when they choose to stand on the side of the oppressor. Universities must be intentional about how they respond to public discourse and critically evaluate who they are targeting and/or harming by their response or lack of response. We call on universities to stop being reactive when issues of structural oppression are called to their attention and take seriously its impacts on staff, faculty, students, and families.

    In closing, we echo Dr. Nelson Flores’ tweet from September 9th (https://twitter.com/nelsonlflores/status/1568242131067625472), which asks, “Whose deaths are mourned versus ignored or celebrated,” and who gets to decide?

    Signed,

    Chelsey R. Carter, PhD, MPH (Assistant Professor, Yale University)

    Nelson Flores, PhD (Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania)

    Sirry Alang, PhD (Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh)

    Crystal M. Fleming, PhD (Professor, Stony Brook University)

    Dick Powis, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of South Florida)

    https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vRFMu3jSCsN44H13pWc_hkLBNwKLmXvWd63U7nXIu1JYPwygdDS6nWuWHeIcG5HUr8lyw_1W_YUJniJ/pub?urp=gmail_link

    #lettre_ouverte #violence_coloniale #critique #monarchie #Elizabeth_II #UK #Angleterre #colonialisme #colonisation #ne_critiquez_pas_la_monarchie

    ping @cede @karine4 @_kg_

  • Tories break ranks on immigration to demand safe routes to UK for asylum seekers

    Exclusive: Allowing asylum claims to be made outside the UK is ‘only viable alternative’ to deaths in Channel, says backbencher

    Senior Tories have demanded a radical overhaul of the asylum system to allow migrants to claim refuge at UK embassies anywhere in the world – rather than having to travel to the UK – in a bid to cut the numbers attempting dangerous Channel crossings.

    Ex-cabinet members #David_Davis and #Andrew_Mitchell are among those calling for the change, which marks a stark challenge to the punitive approach taken by Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, who are demanding tighter controls on French beaches and are threatening to “push back” small boats at sea.

    Mr Davis, the former shadow home secretary and Brexit secretary, and Mr Mitchell, the former international development secretary, also poured scorn on the home secretary’s plan to take on powers through her Nationality and Borders Bill to send migrants arriving in the UK to camps in third countries overseas for processing – something that has already been ruled out by Albania after it was named as a potential destination.

    Writing for The Independent, Pauline Latham, a Conservative member of the Commons International Development Committee, said that allowing migrants to claim asylum at embassies abroad was “the only viable alternative to the tragedy of deaths in the Channel and the chaos of our current approach”.

    Twenty-seven migrants, including three children and a pregnant woman, drowned off the coast of France in November when their boat sank, marking the single biggest loss of life of the crisis so far.

    The Home Office is opposing an opposition amendment to the borders bill, due for debate in the House of Commons this week, which would allow migrants to seek “humanitarian visas” in France, allowing them to be transported safely across the Channel to claim asylum.

    But Ms Latham’s proposal goes a step further, removing the need for asylum seekers to pay thousands of pounds to criminal gangs to smuggle them into Europe and then risk their lives in order to reach Britain to make their claim.

    The Mid Derbyshire MP said: “This feels to me like a genuine win-win. The customer base of the people smugglers would vanish, ending deaths in the Channel and ensuring that people seeking safety here can travel in a humane fashion.

    “The UK would be better able to control who arrives here, and anyone arriving without a visa or pre-approved asylum claim would face non-negotiable deportation.”

    Current government policy has “got it the wrong way round” and should be reshaped as a “global resettlement programme” similar to those set up in Syria and being established for Afghanistan, said Ms Latham.

    With the vast majority of those arriving in the UK by small boat having a legitimate claim for asylum, the question Ms Patel must answer is why the UK’s current policy requires them to put themselves in the hands of lawless gangs and then risk their lives in order to be able to submit their paperwork, she said.

    “Desperate people will continue to seek safety in the UK for as long as there is conflict and persecution elsewhere,” said Ms Latham. “But nobody puts their child in an overcrowded, flimsy dinghy on a cold November morning if they think a better alternative is available. So, when we talk about deterrence we have to talk about alternatives.”

    And Mr Davis said: “Instead of a policy which is built solely on keeping people out, the government should consider creating a legitimate route in for genuine refugees. Migrants fleeing repression in Iran or famine in war-torn Yemen are not able to apply at British embassies. The only options available to them are either illegal, or dangerous, or both.”

    The bill being debated in the Commons on Tuesday and Wednesday aims to deter small-boat crossings by restricting the rights of those who enter the UK by “irregular” routes, allowing “offshore” processing of claims in third countries, and speeding up the removal of failed asylum seekers.

    It would also give border and immigration staff powers to redirect boats out of UK territorial waters in a way that MPs and unions have warned could increase the risk of capsize and deaths.

    Mr Davis said that offshoring would represent a “moral, economic and practical failure”, inflicting a terrible ordeal on those fleeing terror and persecution.

    And Mr Mitchell said: “So far, Norway, Rwanda and Albania have all distanced themselves from suggestions that they would host a UK offshore processing centre. The bill seeks a power for a policy which the government is yet to define.

    “Even in Australia, 75 per cent of those sent to remote islands for processing eventually had their claims upheld. Indeed, most of the people crossing the Channel are also having their asylum claims upheld. Offshore processing looks like a policy which delays the inevitable. But at far greater cost to the taxpayer.”

    The Labour MP behind the humanitarian visa amendment, Neil Coyle, said Ms Patel’s proposals “will cause more dangerous routes and more risk to people seeking to reach the UK”. He told The Independent it was “garbage” for her to claim they would reduce the so-called “pull factors” attracting those fleeing war, civil conflict or persecution to Britain.

    “A humanitarian visa offers the government the chance to prove it means what it says, when it says it doesn’t want people to be subjected to gangs and criminality,” said Mr Coyle. “The amendment would save lives, help us meet our international obligations, and prevent money going to smugglers.”

    Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party, backing the amendment alongside MPs from the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Labour, said: “Claiming asylum in the UK is a fundamental right, but asylum seekers are in a Catch-22, whereby asylum can only be claimed on UK soil yet the UK provides no safe and legal routes to enter the country for those purposes.

    “The home secretary doesn’t care about asylum seekers, but if she were serious about tackling people smuggling, this visa is a workable solution.”

    But a Home Office spokesperson said: “The government has noted the amendments relating to asylum visas for persons in France and they will be debated in parliament in due course.

    “However, there is the risk of creating a wider pull factor, putting vulnerable people in danger by encouraging them to make dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean and overland to France in order to make claims to enter the UK, motivating people to again entrust themselves to heinous smugglers.”

    The chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Minnie Rahman, dismissed this argument.

    “Like people who travel to the UK for work or study, people seeking protection in the UK deserve safe ways of getting here,” she said. “If the government were serious about preventing dangerous crossings and upholding our commitment to refugee protection, they would back this amendment. Instead it seems they’re happy to continue driving refugees into smugglers’ boats.”

    And Bridget Chapman, of the Kent Refugee Action Network, said: “The simple fact is that those who have made this journey tell us that they never wanted to leave their homes in the first place. It wasn’t the ‘pull factors’ that made it happen, it was violent ‘push factors’, such as war, conflict and persecution.

    “Once displaced, most people stay close to their country of origin and only a relatively small number come to the UK. There is no evidence whatsoever that making their journey to the UK marginally more safe would be a ‘pull factor’, and we cannot allow that to be used as a reason not to give them better and safer options.”

    Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “This humanitarian visa amendment would help to prevent deaths in the Channel and undermine the dangerous boat journeys offered by people smugglers.

    “If the government is concerned about a so-called ‘pull factor’, they should show clear evidence of it and then expand this amendment to include refugees further upstream.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/migrants-channel-borders-latham-patel-b1969795.html

    #ambassades #Angleterre #UK #asile #migrations #réfugiés #
    #offshore_asylum_processing #ambassade

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’#externalisation de la #procédure_d'asile dans des #pays_tiers :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/900122

    • Dismay at UK’s offshore detention plans for asylum seekers

      Detainees and workers from Australia’s offshore detention camps say Britain is ignoring the failings and financial costs of that system.

      As people who were detained indefinitely in Australia’s offshore camps on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and as professionals who were employed there, we are deeply concerned that the UK government will attempt this week to grant itself the same power to send people seeking asylum to offshore detention centres.

      We have watched with dismay as the UK government has drafted legislation that allows for the indefinite detention offshore of women, men and children, refused a probing amendment to exclude survivors of trafficking and torture from being sent to offshore detention centres, and ignored the failings and financial costs of the Australian experiment, which saw the Australian government spend £8.6bn to detain 3,127 people in appalling conditions, while failing to end dangerous boat journeys.

      Two of us lost a combined 13 years of our lives trapped in offshore camps, with no indication of when we would be free. Others in the same situation lost their lives. The authorities insisted we would never reach Australia. Now, like more than two-thirds of the people detained offshore, we are recognised refugees, living in the US and Australia. We cannot imagine why any country would replicate such a cruel, costly and ultimately futile system.

      Finally, consider why a government that has no intention of detaining children offshore would give itself the power to do so. Or why any law that claims to protect people entitled to asylum would instead hide them away in offshore detention camps.

      Authors: Thanush Selvarasa and Elahe Zivardar Former offshore detainees, Dr Nick Martin and Carly Hawkins Former medical officer and former teacher, Nauru detention centre

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/05/dismay-at-uk-offshore-detention-plans-for-asylum-seekers?CMP=Share_iOSA

  • Streets in Welsh county can’t be named after public figures, council rules

    #Denbighshire policy aims to guard against names that later become controversial.

    Streets in a north Wales county can no longer be named after public figures, celebrities or other individuals in case they later become controversial, councillors have ruled.

    The decision will also ease the burden on council officers in Denbighshire who say they are often asked by relatives of fallen military personnel to name a street in honour of their lost loved ones.

    Exceptions to the policy would only be made for people who had achieved “once in a generation” feats, the county council’s cabinet concluded.

    The councillors also decided that all new streets should have Welsh-only names, a move that follows a policy agreed by Cardiff council.

    Richard Mainon, the lead member for corporate services, said that as “times and attitudes change” some names did not stand the test of time and could be divisive.

    The councillor said he would prefer street names to “describe the area and signify the cultural and historical significance of the place”, adding: “It should be about the place and the community.”

    Mainon said officers were being asked to name new streets or even rename roads after fallen military personnel. But he said armed services bodies had suggested this was not a good idea unless someone had done something truly exceptional.

    The councillor expressed sympathy with families who wanted streets named after their loved ones. “You never want to say no,” he said. But he argued that a clear policy would “save a lot of work and a lot of tears”.

    The senior council officer Emma Jones told the council’s cabinet: “It’s the street-naming officer who bears the burden of whether a person is worthy of having a street named after them. It’s a heavy burden and we need to remove the normalisation of naming streets after individuals.”

    During a debate on the issue, Julian Thompson-Hill said places had to be re-named after Jimmy Savile was exposed as a serial sexual predator.

    But the councillor said he was opposed to a “blanket ban” that could stop a person such as Captain Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts being recognised. He said: “I wouldn’t want us to have a policy that totally stopped us naming [a street] after a worthy individual.”

    The decision to name new streets in Welsh was welcomed by Welsh language campaigners. Ffred Ffransis, a prominent member of the pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg – the Welsh Language Society – said: “I think that having our street names in Welsh is an important way of remembering that the Welsh language belongs to all of us.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/22/streets-in-north-wales-cannot-be-named-after-public-figures-council-rul
    #toponymie #toponymie_politique #Pays_de_Galles #personnalités
    ping @cede

  • UK plans #offshore_asylum_centres in other countries for Afghans

    Defence secretary says processing #hubs will be used for those Britain has ‘an obligation to’.

    Britain plans to establish offshore asylum centres for Afghan refugees in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey, as ministers admit that the UK will not be able to rescue those eligible for resettlement before troops leave Kabul.

    The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in a newspaper article on Sunday that the UK planned to establish a series of #processing_hubs across the region outside Afghanistan, for Afghans it had “an obligation to”.

    At least 1,429 Afghans have been evacuated from Kabul since last Friday, as part of the #Arap_relocation_scheme designed to help interpreters and others who have helped the British during their 20 years in Afghanistan.

    But it is estimated that a similar number – or more – remain in the country. The emergency airlift was continuing on Sunday, with RAF flights operating despite a crush at the airport gates as desperate Afghans try to flee.

    Nato believes 20 people have died around the airport in the last week, but Britain’s armed forces minister, James Heappey, said the flow outside the airport had improved because the Taliban were “marshalling people into separate queues for the US evacuation and the UK evacuation”.

    A total of 1,721 people – Britons, Afghans and people from allied countries – had been evacuated from Kabul on eight flights in the past 24 hours, Heappey said, with the RAF receiving help from its Australian counterpart in getting people to safety.

    But British officials already acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to evacuate people coming from outside Kabul, although Afghans with a claim have told charity workers they would risk crossing the country if they knew they had a flight.

    The new proposal was born out of the emergency, Wallace said, in an article in the Mail on Sunday. “The [Arap] scheme is not time-limited. We shall stand by our obligations and are investigating now how to process people from third countries and refugee camps,” he wrote.

    However, there were signs that the asylum plan had not been very far developed on Sunday night, when Turkey said it had not been approached and would reject any approach that was made.

    The names of countries had been briefed out by UK officials as examples of where processing centres might be established.

    A scheme to establish an offshore immigration centre was included as part of the Home Office’s nationality and borders bill, published in the early summer, before the western-backed government in Afghanistan collapsed.

    It was controversial because the intention was to allow the UK to send people to a third country to allow their claims to be processed. Officials had begun talks with Denmark about creating a processing centre in Africa – but how it will link together to the emergency centres is unclear.

    Britain has also agreed to take 20,000 Afghan refugees in a separate scheme announced on Tuesday, 5,000 of which will be in the first year. Priority will be given to groups who are most at risk of human rights abuses, such as women, girls and those from religious minorities.

    Ministers are also debating how to respond to the Taliban, with the home secretary, Priti Patel, understood to be exploring with security officials whether they should be proscribed as a terrorist organisation alongside the likes of Isis.

    But the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and other government departments have been holding out the possibility of recognising the Taliban government in Kabul, arguing the regime should be judged by “actions not words”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/22/uk-plans-offshore-asylum-centres-in-pakistan-and-turkey-for-afghans

    #réfugiés_afghans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #UK #Angleterre #Pakistan #Turquie #procédure_d'asile #réinstallation #interprètes #interprètes_afghans #évacuation

    Comme dit l’article :

    A scheme to establish an offshore immigration centre was included as part of the Home Office’s nationality and borders bill, published in the early summer, before the western-backed government in Afghanistan collapsed.

    –-> voir ici le fil de discussion sur ce sujet (qui concerne le Royaume-Uni et le Danemark) :
    #Priti_Patel ’opens talks with Denmark to open new centre in AFRICA to process asylum seekers who want to come to UK’
    https://seenthis.net/messages/918427

    –—

    Pour rappel, les #USA ont apparemment signé un accord avec 4 pays pour un accueil temporaire (?) des réfugiés afghans, en attente d’un visa états-uniens : #Albanie, #Kosovo, #Macédoine_du_Nord et #Ouganda :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/926161

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

  • Glasgow protesters rejoice as men freed after immigration van standoff

    Hundreds of people surrounded vehicle men were held in and chanted ‘these are our neighbours, let them go’

    Campaigners have hailed a victory for Glaswegian solidarity and told the Home Office “you messed with the wrong city” as two men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement were released back into their community after a day of protest.

    Police Scotland intervened to free the men after a tense day-long standoff between immigration officials and hundreds of local residents, who surrounded their van in a residential street on the southside of Glasgow to stop the detention of the men during Eid al-Fitr.

    Staff from Immigration Enforcement are believed to have swooped on a property in Pollokshields early on Thursday morning and detained people.

    By mid-morning, a crowd of about 200 protesters surrounded the vehicle, preventing it from driving away, and chanting “these are our neighbours, let them go”, with one protester lying under the van to prevent it driving off.

    “I’m just overwhelmed by Glasgow’s solidarity for refugees and asylum seekers,” said Roza Salih, shouting to be heard over the jubilant shouts of “refugees are welcome here”. She added: “This is a victory for the community.”

    Salih, who had been at the protest since the morning, is a Kurdish refugee and co-founded the #Glasgow_Girls_campaign in 2005 with fellow pupils to prevent the deportation of a school friend and fight against dawn raids.

    Earlier Salih questioned why the widely condemned practice of dawn raids appeared to be recurring 15 years later in Glasgow , the only dispersal city for asylum seekers in Scotland. She also highlighted the jarring impact of carrying out such an action during Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of Ramadan, in one of the most multicultural areas of the city and within the constituency of the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

    As cheering protesters escorted the men to the local mosque, Pinar Aksu, of Maryhill Integration Network said: “They messed with the wrong city.

    “This is a revolution of people coming together in solidarity for those who others have turned away from,” she said. Aksu described how hundreds more supporters had arrived at the scene as the afternoon progressed. “This is just the start. When there is another dawn #raid in Glasgow, the same thing will happen.”

    Aksu added: “For this to happen on Eid, which is meant to be a time of peaceful celebration, is horrifying. It is no coincidence that it is taking place when a new immigration bill is being prepared.

    “We also need answers from Police Scotland about their involvement. We have already written to the home secretary asking urgently to clarify whether the decisions to carry out immigration enforcement raids, including dawn raids, represents a change in the policy by the UK government.”

    Shortly after 5pm, Police Scotland released an updated statement, saying that Supt Mark Sutherland had decided to release the detained men “in order to protect the safety, public health and wellbeing of those involved in the detention and subsequent protest”. The force asked those at the scene to disperse from the area as soon as possible.

    A spokesperson said earlier: “Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum seekers. Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.”

    The second dawn raid in Glasgow within a month appears to show a further escalation of the UK’s hostile environment policy. While the SNP government has argued strongly for Scotland to have control over its own immigration policy, not least because of the country’s unique depopulation pressures, it remains reserved to Westminster.

    Sources told the Guardian the immigration status of the individuals detained was unclear.

    The protests took place as new MSPs were sworn in to what has been described as Holyrood’s most diverse ever parliament, taking their oaths in British Sign Language, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Doric, Scots, Gaelic, Welsh and Orcadian, and after an election in which refugees had voting rights for the first time in Scotland.

    Politicians expressed their solidarity with the residents on social media.

    Following the men’s release, #Nicola_Sturgeon tweeted: “I am proud to represent a constituency and lead a country that welcomes and shows support to asylum seekers and refugees.”

    She added that the police had been “in an invidious position – they do not assist in the removal of asylum seekers but do have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of ministers, but I support this decision.”

    Condemning the Home Office action, #Sturgeon added: “To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.

    “Both as MSP and as FM, I will be demanding assurances from the UK government that they will never again create, through their actions, such a dangerous situation.”

    Wafa Shaheen, of the Scottish Refugee Council, told the Guardian: “To force people from their homes on the first day of Eid, with neighbours and families trying to honour the religious celebration in peace, shows – at best – a serious lack of cultural sensitivity and awareness on the Home Office’s part.

    “Regardless of the immigration status of those targeted today, this heavy-handed approach from the Home Office is unnecessary and avoidable. It is frightening, intimidating and disproportionate. The hundreds of people on the streets this morning in solidarity with those affected shows people in Scotland are sick of these raids and have had enough.”

    A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by removing those with no right to be in the UK. The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/13/glasgow-residents-surround-and-block-immigration-van-from-leaving-stree

    #Glasgow #Ecosse #solidarité #réfugiés #asile #migrations #résistance #refugees_welcome

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Police release men from immigration van blocking Glasgow street

      Two men who were being detained in an immigration van which was surrounded by protesters have been released.

      The move followed a standoff between police officers and protesters in Kenmure Street on Glasgow’s southside.

      Early on Thursday people surrounded the Home Office vehicle believed to contain two Indian immigrants who had been removed from a flat.

      Hundreds gathered in the area, with one man crawling under the van to prevent it from moving.

      The Home Office said the men had been detained over “suspected immigration offences”.

      Some of the protesters were heard shouting “let our neighbours go”.

      In a statement, Police Scotland said that Ch Supt Mark Sutherland had decided to have the men released.

      It said: "In order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, today, Ch Supt Mark Sutherland has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community meantime.

      “In order to facilitate this quickly and effectively, Police Scotland is asking members of the public to disperse from the street as soon as possible. Please take care when leaving the area and follow the directions of the officers on the street.”

      Earlier the force stressed that it did not assist in the removal of asylum seekers, and that officers were at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.

      Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the MSP for the area, said she disagreed fundamentally with Home Office immigration policy.

      She said: “This action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.”

      She said she would be “demanding assurances” from the UK government that they would not create such a dangerous situation again.

      She added: “No assurances were given - and frankly no empathy shown - when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier.”

      Nicola Sturgeon and her justice secretary, Humza Yousaf are seeking follow up talks with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

      They believe Immigration Enforcement has acted provocatively by trying to remove migrants from an ethnically diverse community during Eid.

      The resulting protests brought people together, against Covid rules, in part of Glasgow which is experiencing a spike in cases linked to the Indian variant.

      Police Scotland intervened on public health and public order grounds to require the release of the two Indian nationals being held by Immigration Enforcement.

      Their operational decision is fully supported by Scottish ministers and while the Home Office is always grateful for police assistance, releasing the men on bail is hardly the outcome they wanted.

      They will not have enjoyed being seen to back down in the face of public and political protest.

      Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government’s justice secretary, said: “the action they [the Home Office] have today is at best completely reckless, and at worst intended to provoke, on a day the UK government would have known the Scottish government and MSPs would be distracted by parliamentary process.”

      He added that the situation “should never have occurred”, and that “the UK government’s hostile environment is not welcome here.”

      In a statement, the Home Office said: "The UK government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people by removing those with no right to be in the UK.

      "The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.

      “The UK government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally.”

      The Sikhs in Scotland group said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned”, and urged the Home Office to “abandon forced removals and to adopt an immigration policy based on human rights, compassion and dignity”.

      Mohammad Asif, of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said hundreds of people were protesting.

      The 54-year-old added: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.”
      Presentational grey line

      Incidents like Kenmure Street - at the centre of Scotland’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhood - will do nothing to persuade those who already believe the UK’s policy on immigration is unfair and inhumane.

      Despite the protest, the Home Office says it was a legitimate operation targeting those it suspected of immigration offences.

      And yet there could be more problems on the horizon. The Home Office has just ended its consultation on its New Plan for Immigration - a policy that will speed up deportations for those who have entered the country ’illegally’.

      Those in such a position will not be able to claim asylum and will instead be granted ’temporary protection’, a status that would come under periodic review.

      More than 70 charities and faith groups in Scotland have condemned such proposals.

      The Home Office is toughening its stance on immigration, but says its policies will make the system fairer for those most in need, while discouraging criminal activity like people trafficking.

      The Scottish government, and the protestors in Glasgow today, fundamentally disagree.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-57100259

  • The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

    The Commission’s report sets out a new, positive agenda for change. It balances the needs of individuals, communities and society, maximising opportunities and ensuring fairness for all.

    The Commission has considered detailed quantitative data and qualitative evidence to understand why disparities exist, what works and what does not. It has commissioned new research and invited submissions from across the UK.

    Its work and recommendations will improve the quality of data and evidence about the types of barriers faced by people from different backgrounds. This will help to inform actions and drive effective and lasting change.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

    #rapport #UK #Angleterre #racisme #discriminations #inégalités
    #Commission_on_Race_and_Ethnic_Disparities (#CRED)

    pour télécharger le rapport :
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974507/20210331_-_CRED_Report_-_FINAL_-_Web_Accessible.pdf

    • Downing Street rewrote ‘independent’ report on race, experts claim

      Commissioners allege No 10 distorted their work on inequality, after conclusions played down institutional racism.

      Officials at Downing Street have been accused of rewriting much of its controversial report into racial and ethnic disparities, despite appointing an independent commission to conduct an honest investigation into inequality in the UK.

      The Observer has been told that significant sections of the report published on 31 March, which were criticised and debunked by health professionals, academics, business chiefs and crime experts, were not written by the 12 commissioners who were appointed last July.

      The 258-page document was not made available to be read in full or signed off by the group, which included scientist and BBC broadcaster Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Samir Shah, former chair of the Runnymede Trust, nor were they made aware of its 24 final recommendations. Instead, the finished report, it is alleged, was produced by No 10.

      Kunle Olulode, an anti-racism activist and director of the charity Voice4Change, is the first commissioner to condemn the government publicly for its lack of transparency. In a statement to the Observer, Olulode’s charity was scathing of the way evidence was cherrypicked, distorted and denied in the final document.

      “The report does not give enough to show its understanding of institutional or structural discrimination … evidence in sections, that assertive conclusions are based on, is selective,” it said. “The report gives no clear direction on what expectations of the role of public institutions and political leadership should be in tackling race and ethnic disparities. What is the role of the state in this?”

      One commissioner, who spoke out on condition of anonymity, accused the government of “bending” the work of its commission to fit “a more palatable” political narrative and denying the working group the autonomy it was promised.

      “We did not read Tony’s [Sewell] foreword,” they claimed. “We did not deny institutional racism or play that down as the final document did. The idea that this report was all our own work is full of holes. You can see that in the inconsistency of the ideas and data it presents and the conclusions it makes. That end product is the work of very different views.”

      The commissioner revealed that they had been privy only to the section of the report they were assigned, and that it had soon become apparent the exercise was not being taken sufficiently seriously by No 10.

      “Something of this magnitude takes proper time – we were only given five months to do this work, on a voluntary basis,” they said. In contrast to the landmark 1999 #Macpherson_report (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/22/macpherson-report-what-was-it-and-what-impact-did-it-have), an inquiry into the death of #Stephen_Lawrence, or the 2017 #Lammy_Review, both of which took 18 months to conclude, the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) was not peer reviewed and was published just seven months after the group first met on a videocall.

      The group, led by Sewell, was set up by #Samuel_Kasumu, No 10’s most senior black special adviser, who resigned from his post on the day the report was published, aghast at its final findings. Accusations that #Munira_Mirza, director of No 10’s policy unit, was heavily involved in steering the direction of the supposedly independent report were not directly addressed by a No 10 spokesperson, who said: “I would reiterate the report is independent and that the government is committed to tackling inequality.”

      A source involved in the commission told the Observer that “basic fundamentals in putting a document like this together were ignored. When you’re producing something so historic, you have to avoid unnecessary controversy, you don’t court it like this report did. And the comms was just shocking.”

      While the prime minister sought to distance himself from the criticism a day after its publication, unusually it was his office rather than the Cred secretariat which initially released the report to the press.

      A spokesperson for the race commission said: “We reject these allegations. They are deliberately seeking to divert attention from the recommendations made in the report.

      “The commission’s view is that, if implemented, these 24 recommendations can change for the better the lives of millions across the UK, whatever their ethnic or social background. That is the goal they continue to remain focused on.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/11/downing-street-rewrote-independent-report-on-race-experts-claim

      #récriture #modification #indépendance #contreverse

    • voir aussi les critiques dans la page wiki dédiée au rapport :
      Reactions

      Political:

      Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said that he was “disappointed” by the Commission’s report.[10][11]

      Isabelle Parasram, vice president of the Liberal Democrats, issued a statement that the Commission had “missed the opportunity to make a clear, bold statement on the state of race equality in this country”. Parasram said that the “evidence and impact of racism in the UK is overwhelming” and that “whilst some of recommendations made in the report are helpful, they fall far short of what could have been achieved”.[12]

      The Green Party of England and Wales issued a statement condemning the summary of the report as “a deliberate attempt to whitewash institutional racism” and that “Institutional racism in the UK does exist”.[13]

      Other:

      David Goodhart welcomed the report as “a game-changer for how Britain talks about race”.[14]

      Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover, described the report as “deeply disturbing”; she said the “lived experience” of the people “tells a different story to that being shared by this report”.[15]

      The historian David Olusoga accused the report’s authors of appearing to prefer “history to be swept under the carpet”.[16]

      A Guardian editorial quoted Boris Johnson’s intent to “change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination”[17] when setting up the commission, and as evidence of the reality of racial inequality listed five recent government reports on different aspects:[18]

      - the criminal justice system (the David Lammy review of 2017[19][20]);
      - schools, courts, and the workplace (the Theresa May race audit of 2017[21]);
      - pay (the Ruby McGregor-Smith review of 2017[22][23]);
      - deaths in police custody (the Elish Angiolini report of 2017[24]);
      - the Windrush scandal (the Wendy Williams review of 2020[25][26]).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_on_Race_and_Ethnic_Disparities

  • Inside Australia’s asylum system – a possible model for the UK

    Guardian Australia reporter Ben Doherty looks at the history behind Australia’s asylum seeker policies, including the controversial practice of offshore processing and resettlement. It’s one of the options the British government is allegedly considering to deter asylum seekers from attempting to cross the Channel to the UK. Journalist Behrouz Boochani, who spent seven years in detention in Papua New Guinea, discusses the impact the policy has had

    Amid a fourfold rise in small boats attempting to cross the Channel and reach the UK this year, Downing Street and ministers have asked Foreign Office officials to consider a wide range of options to deter asylum seekers, according to leaked documents last month. Proposals include offshore asylum processing centres, with one document suggesting Boris Johnson is personally involved in the plan, stating: ‘In addition to the work on OT [British overseas territory] options, the PM has asked for FCDO advice on potential third-country locations. We are asked to suggest options for a UK scheme similar to the Australian agreement with Papua New Guinea.’

    Guardian Australia reporter Ben Doherty tells Rachel Humphreys about the history of Australia’s immigration policies, beginning in 2001, after the Tampa crisis, when a Norwegian freighter that had rescued more than 400 mainly Afghan Hazara refugees from their sinking vessel in international waters 140km north of Christmas Island was refused entry into Australian waters. The MV Tampa provided the conservative Coalition government with a catalyst for action. That was the establishment of “offshore detention” camps on Nauru and on Papua New Guinea, the so-called Pacific solution. The detention facilities have been the subject of serious criticism by international observers and human rights groups. Journalist Behrouz Boochani, who fled Iran for Australia in 2013, was sent to Manus Island. He describes the detention centre as worse than a prison and warns the UK to think hard before they look to replicate the Australian system. “If you do this, you lose your humanity” he tells Rachel.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2020/oct/21/inside-australias-asylum-system-a-possible-model-for-the-uk
    #modèle_australien #asile #migrations #réfugiés #UK #Angleterre #audio #podcast #Ben_Doherty

    • Migrants entering UK illegally to be liable for removal at any time

      Priti Patel’s New Plan for Immigration risks punishing refugees with no choice about how they seek safety, experts warn

      Migrants who arrive in the UK by small boats or other illegal routes will be indefinitely liable for removal even if they are granted asylum under punishing proposals to be announced by Priti Patel.

      In what the government is billing as the “biggest overhaul of the UK’s asylum system in decades”, the home secretary will announce on Wednesday that how people enter the UK will have a bearing on the progress of their asylum claim and their status if that claim is successful.

      Experts criticised the creation of a “two-tier” system that risked punishing people “forced to take extraordinary measures [without] a choice about how they seek safety”.

      Patel will vow to make every effort to remove those who enter the UK via routes deemed illegal, having travelled through a safe country in which they “could and should have claimed asylum”, under the “#New_Plan_for_Immigration”.

      If it is not possible to remove them, migrants making successful claims having entered illegally will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle – and will be regularly reassessed for removal from the UK.

      People entering illegally will be further punished with limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.

      Earlier this week it was reported that migrants who come to the UK through a safe and legal resettlement route, conversely, will get indefinite leave to remain immediately upon arriving in the UK under the plans.

      Currently, resettled refugees get permission to stay in the UK for five years after which they must apply again for indefinite leave to remain.

      It has also been reported that asylum seekers will be shipped overseas while their claims are processed, under the proposals, though this was not mentioned in a press statement issued ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

      The proposals have been drawn up against a backdrop of a record number of asylum seekers arriving in the UK last year in small boats across the Channel, with some political commentators suggesting Boris Johnson was frustrated with Patel’s poor handling of the situation.

      However, official figures show the total number of asylum applications received in the UK last year actually fell by nearly a fifth as alternative means of travel – such as lorries – were hit by the pandemic.

      Patel, who is expected to address the House of Commons on Wednesday, said: “I make no apology for these actions being firm, but as they will also save lives and target people-smugglers, they are also undeniably fair.”

      For migrants who have their applications refused, the government said it will reform the appeals and judicial process to speed up removal. Other proposals, which it is understood will be put out for consultation, include:

      – Reception centres for asylum seekers while their claims are being processed.

      - Clarifying the standard on what qualifies as a “well-founded fear of persecution” and making it harder for people to be granted refugee status based on unsubstantiated claims.

      - Strict age assessment processes, with a national age assessment board to stop adult migrants pretending to be children.

      – Life sentences for people-smugglers and increasing the penalty for foreign national offenders who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order from six months’ imprisonment to five years.

      The Home Office said it will expand the global reach of resettlement routes for refugees – channels facilitated by international organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency to provide safe and legal routes to the UK.

      Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “The government is seeking to unjustly differentiate between the deserving and undeserving refugee by choosing to provide protection for those fleeing war and terror based on how they travel to the UK.

      “The reality is that, when faced with upheaval, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary measures and do not have a choice about how they seek safety. The government is effectively creating a two-tier system where some refugees are unfairly punished for the way they are able to get to the UK.

      “This is wholly unjust and undermines the UK’s long tradition of providing protection for people, regardless of how they have managed to find their way to our shores … All refugees deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity, and it’s a stain on ‘Global Britain’ to subject some refugees to differential treatment.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/23/migrants-entering-uk-illegally-to-be-liable-for-removal-at-any-time

      #moyen_de_transport

  • Revealed: No 10 explores sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea | UK news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/sep/30/revealed-no-10-explores-sending-asylum-seekers-to-moldova-morocco-and-p

    Downing Street has asked officials to consider the option of sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco or Papua New Guinea and is the driving force behind proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

    The documents suggest officials in the Foreign Office have been pushing back against No 10’s proposals to process asylum applications in detention facilities overseas, which have also included the suggestion the centres could be constructed on the south Atlantic islands of Ascension and St Helena.

    The documents, marked “official” and “sensitive” and produced earlier this month, summarise advice from officials at the Foreign Office, which was asked by Downing Street to “offer advice on possible options for negotiating an offshore asylum processing facility similar to the Australian model in Papua New Guinea and Nauru”.

    #migration #asile #déportation #externalisation #déterritorialisation

    • Downing Street has asked officials to consider the option of sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco or Papua New Guinea and is the driving force behind proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

      The documents suggest officials in the Foreign Office have been pushing back against No 10’s proposals to process asylum applications in detention facilities overseas, which have also included the suggestion the centres could be constructed on the south Atlantic islands of Ascension and St Helena.

      The documents, marked “official” and “sensitive” and produced earlier this month, summarise advice from officials at the Foreign Office, which was asked by Downing Street to “offer advice on possible options for negotiating an offshore asylum processing facility similar to the Australian model in Papua New Guinea and Nauru”.

      The Australian system of processing asylum seekers in on the Pacific Islands costs AY$13bn (£7.2bn) a year and has attracted criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations and even the UK government, according to the documents, which reveal British ministers have “privately” raised concerns with Australia over the abuse of detainees in its offshore detention facilities.

      The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that the home secretary, Priti Patel, asked officials to consider processing asylum seekers Ascension and St Helena, which are overseas British territories. Home Office sources were quick to distance Patel from the proposals and Downing Street has also played down Ascension and St Helena as destinations for asylum processing centres.

      However, the documents seen by the Guardian suggest the government has for weeks been working on “detailed plans” that include cost estimates of building asylum detention camps on the south Atlantic islands, as well as other proposals to build such facilities in Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.

      The documents suggest the UK’s proposals would go further than Australia’s hardline system, which is “based on migrants being intercepted outside Australian waters”, allowing Australia to claim no immigration obligations to individuals. The UK proposals, the documents state, would involve relocating asylum seekers who “have arrived in the UK and are firmly within the jurisdiction of the UK for the purposes of the ECHR and Human Rights Act 1998”.

      The documents suggest that the idea that Morocco, Moldova and Papua New Guinea might make suitable destinations for UK asylum processing centres comes directly from Downing Street, with documents saying the three countries were specifically “suggested” and “floated” by No 10. One document says the request for advice on third country options for detention facilities came from “the PM”.

      The Times reported that the government was also giving serious consideration to the idea of creating floating asylum centres in disused ferries moored off the UK coast.

      While composed in the restrained language of civil servants, the Foreign Office advice contained in the documents appears highly dismissive of the ideas emanating from Downing Street, pointing out numerous legal, practical and diplomatic obstacles to processing asylums seekers oversees. The documents state that:

      • Plans to process asylum seekers at offshore centres in Ascension or St Helena would be “extremely expensive and logistically complicated” given the remoteness of the islands. The estimated cost is £220m build cost per 1,000 beds and running costs of £200m. One document adds: “In relation to St Helena we will need to consider if we are willing to impose the plan if the local government object.”

      • The “significant” legal, diplomatic and practical obstacles to the plan include the existence of “sensitive military installations” on the island of Ascension. One document warns that the military issues mean the “will mean US government would need to be persuaded at the highest levels, and even then success cannot be guaranteed”.

      • It is “highly unlikely” that any north African state, including Morocco, would agree to hosting asylum seekers relocated to the UK. “No north African country, Morocco included, has a fully functioning asylum system,” one document states. “Morocco would not have the resources (or the inclination) to pay for a processing centre.”

      • Seeming to dismiss the idea of sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Foreign Office officials point out there is protracted conflict in the eastern European country over Transnistria as well as “endemic” corruption. They add: “If an asylum centre depended on reliable, transparent, credible cooperation from the host country justice system we would not be able to rely on this.”

      • Officials warned of “significant political and logistical obstacles” to sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea, pointing out it is more than 8,500 miles away, has a fragile public health system and is “one of the bottom few countries in the world in terms of medical personnel per head of population”. They also warn any such a move would “renew scrutiny of Australia’s own offshore processing”. One document adds: “Politically, we judge the chances of positive engagement with the government on this to be almost nil.”

      A Foreign Office source played down the idea that the department had objected to Downing Street’s offshoring proposals for asylum seekers, saying officials’ concerns were only about the practicality of the plan. “This was something which the Cabinet Office commissioned, which we responded to with full vigour, to show how things could work,” the source said.

      However, another Whitehall source familiar with the government plans said they were part of a push by Downing Street to “radically beef-up the hostile environment” in 2021 following the end of the Brexit transition. Former prime minister Theresa May’s “hostile environment” phrase, which became closely associated with the polices that led to the Windrush scandal, is no longer being used in government.

      But the source said that moves are afoot to find a slate of new policies that would achieve a similar end to “discourage” and “deter” migrants from entering the UK illegally.

      The documents seen by the Guardian also contain details of Home Office legal advice to Downing Street, which states that the policy would require legislative changes, including “disapplying sections 77 and 78 of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 so that asylum seekers can be removed from the UK while their claim or appeal is pending”.

      Another likely legislative change, according to the Home Office advice, would require “defining what we mean by a clandestine arrival (and potentially a late claim) and create powers allowing us to send them offshore for the purposes of determining their asylum claims”.

      One of the documents states that the option of building detention centres in foreign countries – rather than British overseas territories – is “not the favoured No 10 avenue, but they wish to explore [the option] in case it presents easier pathways to an offshore facility”.

      On Wednesday, asked about the FT’s report about the UK considering plans to ship asylum seekers to the south Atlantic for processing, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson confirmed the UK was considering Australian–style offshore processing centres.

      He said the UK had a “long and proud history” of accepting asylum seekers but needed to act, particularly given migrants making unofficial crossings from France in small boats.

      “We are developing plans to reform our illegal migration and asylum policies so we can keep providing protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and criminality. As part of this work we’ve been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the United Kingdom. And that work is ongoing.”

      Asked for comment about the proposals regarding Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea, Downing Street referred the Guardian to the spokesman’s earlier comments. The Foreign Office referred the Guardian to the Home Office. The Home Office said it had nothing to add to comments by the prime minister’s spokesman.

      #UK #Angleterre #Maroc #Papoue_Nouvelle_Guinée #Moldavie
      #offshore_detention_centres
      #procédure_d'asile #externalisation_de_la_procédure #modèle_australien

      #île_de_l'Ascension

      #île_Sainte-Hélène


      #Sainte-Hélène

      –---

      Les #floating_asylum_centres pensés par l’UK rappellent d’autres structures flottantes :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/879396

      –—

      Ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/731749

    • Ascension Island: Priti Patel considered outpost for UK asylum centre location

      The government has considered building an asylum processing centre on a remote UK territory in the Atlantic Ocean.

      The idea of “offshoring” people is being looked at but finding a suitable location would be key, a source said.

      Home Secretary Priti Patel asked officials to look at asylum policies which had been successful in other countries, the BBC has been told.

      The Financial Times says Ascension Island, more than 4,000 miles (6,000km) from the UK, was a suggested location.

      What happens to migrants who reach the UK?
      More migrants arrive in September than all of 2019
      Fleeing the Syrian war for Belfast

      The Foreign Office is understood to have carried out an assessment for Ascension - which included the practicalities of transferring migrants thousands of miles to the island - and decided not to proceed.

      However, a Home Office source said ministers were looking at “every option that can stop small boat crossings and fix the asylum system”.

      "The UK has a long and proud history of offering refuge to those who need protection. Tens of thousands of people have rebuilt their lives in the UK and we will continue to provide safe and legal routes in the future.

      “As ministers have said we are developing plans to reform policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.”

      No final decisions have been made.
      ’Logistical nightmare’

      Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive - so it seems entirely plausible this Tory government came up with it.”

      Alan Nicholls, a member of the Ascension Island council, said moving asylum seekers more than 4,000 miles to the British overseas territory would be a “logistical nightmare” and not well received by the islanders.

      He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the presence of military bases on the island could make the concept “prohibitive” due to security concerns.

      Australia has controversially used offshore processing and detention centres for asylum seekers since the 1980s.

      A United Nations refugee agency representative to the UK, Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, said the proposal would breach the UK’s obligations to asylum seekers and would “change what the UK is - its history and its values”.

      Speaking to the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, she said the Australian model had “brought about huge suffering for people, who are guilty of no more than seeking asylum, and it has also cost huge amounts of money”.

      The proposal comes amid record numbers of migrants making the journey across the English Channel to the UK in small boats this month, which Ms Patel has vowed to stop.

      Laura Trott, Conservative MP for Sevenoaks in Kent, said it was “absolutely right” that the government was looking at offshore asylum centres to “reduce the pressure” on Kent, which was “unable to take any more children into care”.

      In order to be eligible for asylum in the UK, applicants must prove they cannot return to their home country because they fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, gender identity or sexual orientation.

      Asylum seekers cannot work while their claims are being processed, so the government offers them a daily allowance of just over £5 and accommodation, often in hostels or shared flats.

      Delays in processing UK asylum applications increased significantly last year with four out of five applicants in the last three months of 2019 waiting six months or more for their cases to be processed.

      That compared with three in four during the same period in 2018.

      –—

      Ascension Island key facts

      The volcanic island has no indigenous population, and the people that live there - fewer than 1,000 - are the employees and families of the organisations operating on the island
      The military airbase is jointly operated by the RAF and the US, and has been used as a staging post to supply and defend the Falkland Islands
      Its first human inhabitants arrived in 1815, when the Royal Navy set up camp to keep watch on Napoleon, who was imprisoned on the island of St Helena some 800 miles away
      It is home to a BBC transmitter - the BBC Atlantic Relay station - which sends shortwave radio to Africa and South America

      https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54349796

    • UK considers sending asylum seekers abroad to be processed

      Reports suggest using #Gibraltar or the #Isle_of_Man or copying Australian model and paying third countries

      The Home Office is considering plans to send asylum seekers who arrive in the UK overseas to be processed, an idea modelled on a controversial Australian system, it is understood.

      Priti Patel, the home secretary, is expected to publish details next week of a scheme in which people who arrive in the UK via unofficial means, such as crossing the Channel in small boats, would be removed to a third country to have any claim dealt with.

      The government has pledged repeatedly to introduce measures to try to reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving across the Channel. Australia removes arrivals to overseas islands while their claims are processed.

      A Home Office source said: “Whilst people are dying making perilous journeys we would be irresponsible if we didn’t consider every avenue.”

      However, the source played down reports that destinations considered included Turkey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or other British islands, and that talks with some countries had begun, saying this was “all speculation”.

      Last year it emerged that meetings involving Patel had raised the possibility of asylum seekers being sent to Ascension Island, an isolated volcanic British territory in the south Atlantic, or St Helena, part of the same island group but 800 miles away.

      At the time, Home Office sources said the proposals came when Patel sought advice from the Foreign Office on how other countries deal with asylum applications, with Australia’s system given as an example.

      Labour described the Ascension Island idea as “inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive”.

      After the Brexit transition period finished at the end of 2020, the UK government no longer had the automatic right to transfer refugees and migrants to the EU country in which they arrived, part of the European asylum system known as the Dublin regulation.

      The UK government sought to replace this with a similar, post-Brexit version, but was rebuffed by the EU.

      With the government facing political pressure on migrant Channel crossings from some parts of the media, and from people like Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader who frequently makes videos describing the boats as “an invasion”, Patel’s department has sought to respond.

      Last year, official documents seen by the Guardian showed that trials had taken place to test a blockade in the Channel similar to Australia’s controversial “turn back the boats” tactic.

      Reports at the time, denied by Downing Street, said that other methods considered to deter unofficial Channel crossings included a wave machine to push back the craft.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/18/asylum-seekers-could-be-sent-abroad-by-uk-to-be-processed

  • 15 personnes poursuivies pour avoir tenté d’empêcher le décollage d’un charter de 57 expulsés (Ghana et Nigeria) en se couchant sur le tarmac (voir End Deportation latest newsletter : https://us16.campaign-archive.com/?u=ae35278d38818677379a2546a&id=6be6b043c3)
    –-> reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop par Claire Rodier.

    #Stansted_15 : Amnesty to observe trial amid concerns for anti-deportation activists

    Amnesty considers the 15 to be human rights defenders

    ‘We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case’ - Kate Allen

    Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

    The protesters - known as the “#Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

    Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. The organisation has written to the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General calling for this disproportionate charge to be dropped.

    The trial is currently expected to last for approximately six weeks.

    Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “We’re concerned the authorities are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with this case.

    “Public protest and non-violent direct action can often be a key means of defending human rights, particularly when victims have no way to make their voices heard and have been denied access to justice.

    “Human rights defenders are currently coming under attack in many countries around the world, with those in power doing all they can to discourage people from taking injustice personally. The UK must not go down that path.”

    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/stansted-15-amnesty-observe-trial-amid-concerns-anti-deportation-activis

    #avion #déportation #renvois #expulsions #UK #Angleterre #résistance #procès #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières

    –---

    voir aussi la métaliste sur la #résistance de #passagers (mais aussi de #pilotes) aux #renvois_forcés :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/725457

    • The Stansted protesters saved me from wrongful deportation. They are heroes

      The ‘Stansted 15’ face jail for stopping my flight from taking off. They helped me see justice – and the birth of my daughter

      I’ll never forget the moment I found out that a group of people had blocked a charter deportation flight leaving Stansted airport on 28 March 2017, because I was one of the people that had a seat on the plane and was about to be removed from Britain against my will. While most of those sitting with me were whooping with joy when they heard the news, I was angry. After months in detention, the thought of facing even just one more day in that purgatory filled me with terror. And, crucially, I had no idea then of what I know now: that the actions of those activists, who became known as the Stansted 15, would help me see justice, and save my life in Britain.
      Stansted 15 convictions a ‘crushing blow for human rights in UK’
      Read more

      I first arrived in Britain in 2004 and, like so many people who come here from abroad, built a life here. As I sat in that plane in Stansted last year I was set to be taken “back” to a country that I had no links to. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind that had I been deported I would have been destitute and homeless in Nigeria – I was terrified.

      Imagine it. You’ve lived somewhere for 13 years. Your mum, suffering with mobility issues, lives there. Your partner lives there. Two of your children already live there, and the memory of your first-born, who died at just seven years old, resides there too. Your next child is about to be born there. That was my situation as we waited on the asphalt – imagining my daughter being born in a country where I’d built a life, while I was exiled to Nigeria and destined to meeting my newborn for the first time through a screen on a phone.

      My story was harsh, but it’s no anomaly. Like many people facing deportation from the United Kingdom, my experience with the immigration authorities had lasted many years – and for the last seven years of living here I had been in a constant state of mental detention. A cycle of Home Office appeals and its refusal to accept my claims or make a fair decision based on the facts of my case saw me in and out of detention and permanently waiting for my status to be settled. Though the threat of deportation haunted me, it was the utter instability and racial discrimination that made me feel like I was going mad. That’s why the actions of the Stansted 15 first caused me to be angry. I simply didn’t believe that their actions would be anything more than a postponement of further pain.

      My view isn’t just shaped by my own experience. My life in Britain has seen me rub along with countless people who find themselves the victims of the government’s “hostile environment” for migrants and families who aren’t white. Migration and deportation targets suck humanity from a system whose currency is the lives of people who happen to be born outside the UK. Such is the determination to look “tough” on the issue that people are rounded up in the night and put on to brutal, secretive and barely legal charter flights. Most take off away from the public eye – 60 human beings shackled and violently restrained on each flight, with barely a thought about the life they are dragged away from, nor the one they face upon arrival.
      Stansted 15 activists vow to overcome ‘dark, dark day for the right to protest’
      Read more

      I was one of the lucky few. My removal from the plane gave me two life-changing gifts. The first was a chance to appeal to the authorities over my deportation – a case that I won on two separate occasions, following a Home Office counter-appeal. But more importantly the brave actions of the Stansted 15 gave me something even more special: the chance to be by my partner’s side as she gave birth to our daughter, and to be there for them as they both needed extensive treatment after a complicated and premature birth. Without the Stansted 15 I wouldn’t have been playing football with my three-year-old in the park this week. It’s that simple. We now have a chance to live together as a family in Britain – and that is thanks to the people who lay down in front of the plane.

      On Monday the Stansted 15 were found guilty of breaching a barely used terror law. Though the jury were convinced that their actions breached this legislation, there’s no doubt in my mind that these 15 brave people are heroes, not criminals. For me a crime is doing something that is evil, shameful or just wrong – and it’s clear that it is the actions of the Home Office that tick all of these boxes; the Stansted 15 were trying to stop the real crime being committed. As the Stansted 15 face their own purgatory – awaiting sentences in the following weeks – I will be praying that they are shown leniency. Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth, and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country without having my (now successful) appeal heard. My message to them today is to fight on. Your cause is just, and history will absolve you of the guilt that the system has marked you with.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/10/stansted-15-protesters-deportation

    • Regno Unito, quindici attivisti rischiano l’ergastolo per aver bloccato la deportazione di migranti

      La criminalizzazione della solidarietà non riguarda solo l’Italia, con la martellante campagna contro le Ong che salvano vite nel Mediterraneo. In Francia sette attivisti rischiano 10 anni di carcere e 750mila euro di multa per “associazione a delinquere finalizzata all’immigrazione clandestina”. Nel Regno Unito altri quindici rischiano addirittura l’ergastolo per aver bloccato nella notte del 28 marzo 2017 nell’aeroporto di Stansted la deportazione di un gruppo di migranti caricati in segreto su un aereo diretto in Nigeria.

      Attivisti appartenenti ai gruppi End Deportations, Plane Stupid e Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants hanno circondato l’aereo, impedendone il decollo. Come risultato della loro azione undici persone sono rimaste nel Regno Unito mentre la loro domanda di asilo veniva esaminata e due hanno potuto restare nel paese. Nonostante il carattere nonviolento dell’azione, il gruppo che ha bloccato l’aereo è finito sotto processo con accuse basate sulla legge anti-terrorismo e se giudicato colpevole rischia addirittura l’ergastolo. Il verdetto è atteso la settimana prossima.

      Membri dei movimenti pacifisti, antirazzisti e ambientalisti si sono uniti per protestare contro l’iniquità delle accuse. Amnesty International ha espresso la preoccupazione che siano state formulate per scoraggiare altri attivisti dall’intraprendere azioni dirette nonviolente in difesa dei diritti umani. Il vescovo di Chelmsford, la cittadina dove si tiene il processo, si è presentato in tribunale per esprimere il suo appoggio agli imputati. La primavera scorsa oltre 50 personalità, tra cui la leader dei Verdi Caroline Lucas, la scrittrice e giornalista Naomi Klein, il regista Ken Loach e l’attrice Emma Thompson hanno firmato una lettera in cui chiedono il ritiro delle accuse contro i “Quindici di Stansted” e la fine dei voli segreti di deportazione.

      Nel Regno Unito questa pratica è iniziata nel 2001. Molte delle persone deportate hanno vissuto per anni nel paese; vengono portate via dai posti di lavoro, in strada o dalle loro case, rinchiuse in centri di detenzione, caricate in segreto su voli charter notturni e inviate in paesi che spesso non conoscono e dove rischiano persecuzioni e morte. Alcuni non vengono preavvisati in tempo per ricorrere in appello contro la deportazione. “Il nostro è stato un atto di solidarietà umana, di difesa e resistenza contro un regime sempre più brutale” ha dichiarato un’attivista.


      https://www.pressenza.com/it/2018/12/regno-unito-quindici-attivisti-rischiano-lergastolo-per-aver-bloccato-la-
      #UK #Angleterre #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité #criminalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #expulsions

    • Activists convicted of terrorism offence for blocking Stansted deportation flight

      Fifteen activists who blocked the takeoff of an immigration removal charter flight have been convicted of endangering the safety of Stansted airport, a terrorism offence for which they could be jailed for life.

      After nearly three days of deliberations, following a nine-week trial, a jury at Chelmsford crown court found the defendants guilty of intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

      The court had heard how members of the campaign group End Deportations used lock-on devices to secure themselves around a Titan Airways Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office, as the aircraft waited on the asphalt at the airport in Essex to remove undocumented immigrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

      The prosecution argued that their actions, which led to a temporary shutdown of Stansted, had posed a grave risk to the safety of the airport and its passengers.

      The verdict came after the judge Christopher Morgan told the jury to disregard all evidence put forward by the defendants to support the defence that they acted to stop human rights abuses, instructing jurors to only consider whether there was a “real and material” risk to the airport.

      In legal arguments made without the jury present, which can now be reported, defence barristers had called for the jury to be discharged after Morgan gave a summing up which they said amounted to a direction to convict. The judge had suggested the defendants’ entry to a restricted area could be considered inherently risky.

      Human rights organisations and observers had already expressed concerns over the choice of charge, which Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, likened to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. Responding to the verdict on Monday, Gracie Bradley, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, called the verdict a “grave injustice” and a “malicious attack” on the right to peaceful protest.

      Dr Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, was one of a team of academics who observed the trial throughout. The only previous use of the 1990 law he and colleagues were able to find was in 2002 when a pilot was jailed for three years after flying his helicopter straight at a control tower.

      “This is a law that’s been brought in concerning international terrorism,” he said. “But for the last 10 weeks [of the trial], we’ve heard what amounts to an extended discussion of health and safety, in which the prosecution has not said at any point what the consequences of their actions might have been.”

      In a statement released by End Deportations after the verdict, the defendants said: “We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm. The real crime is the government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest.

      The protest took place on the night of 28 March 2017. The activists cut a hole in the airport’s perimeter fence, the court heard. Jurors were shown footage from CCTV cameras and a police helicopter of four protesters arranging themselves around the front landing gear of the aircraft and locking their arms together inside double-layered pipes filled with expanding foam.

      Further back, a second group of protesters erected a two-metre tripod from scaffolding poles behind the engine on the left wing on which one of them perched while others locked themselves to the base to prevent it from being moved, the videos showed. In the moments before police arrived, they were able to display their banners, one of which said: “No one is illegal.”

      Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Benjamin Smoke, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Alistair Temlit, Edward Thacker, Emma Hughes, May McKeith, Ruth Potts and Melanie Stickland, aged 27 to 44, had all pleaded not guilty.

      They will be sentenced at a later date.


      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/10/activists-convicted-of-terror-offence-for-blocking-stansted-deportation

    • Stansted 15: no jail for activists convicted of terror-related offences

      Judge says group ‘didn’t have a grievous intent as some may who commit this type of crime’.

      Fifteen activists convicted of a terrorism-related offence for chaining themselves around an immigration removal flight at Stansted airport have received suspended sentences or community orders.

      The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”.

      Amid an outcry over what human rights defenders branded a heavy-handed prosecution, the group, who have become known as the Stansted 15, were convicted last December of endangering the safety of an aerodrome.

      They had broken into Stansted airport’s “airside” area in March 2017 and chained themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. After a 10-week trial a jury found them guilty of the charge – an offence that carries a potential life sentence.
      We in the Stansted 15 have been treated like terrorists
      Emma Hughes
      Read more

      At Chelmsford crown court on Wednesday, Judge Christopher Morgan QC, dismissed submissions in mitigation that the group should receive conditional discharges for the direct action protest, which briefly paralysed the airport, saying they did not reflect the danger that had been presented by their actions.

      He said such action would “ordinarily result in custodial sentences”, but that they “didn’t have a grievous intent as some may do who commit this type of crime”. The mood in the court had lightened considerably at the start of the hearing when Morgan said that he did not consider the culpability of any of the defendants passed the threshold of an immediate custodial sentence.

      The heaviest sentences were reserved for three of the group who had been previously convicted of aggravated trespass at Heathrow airport in 2016.

      Alistair Tamlit and Edward Thacker were sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in jail suspended for 18 months, along with 250 hours of unpaid work. Melanie Strickland was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

      Benjamin Smoke, Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts were each given 12-month community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work, while May McKeith received a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation.

      In mitigation, Dexter Dias QC said it should be taken into account that all acted to try to help individuals they perceived to be in danger. “The reason they wanted to prevent [the flight’s] departure is that they believed the welfare and safety of some of the people on that flight was at risk,” he said.
      Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
      Read more

      “In those circumstances the court historically in this country have considered that conscientious motivations offer quite significant mitigation.”

      Dias pointed out that 11 of those who had been due to be deported to west Africa that night remain in the country, including two of whom there were reasons to believe were victims of human trafficking, and two who were subsequently found to have been victims of human trafficking. “One of them had been raped and forced into sex work in several European cities,” he said.

      Kirsty Brimelow QC, who appeared to have been specially recruited for the mitigation after not acting for any defendant during the trial, told Morgan he must balance the defendants’ rights to protest and free association against the harm their actions caused the airport.

      Brimelow last year acted for three fracking protesters whose sentences were overturned by the court of appeal as “manifestly excessive”. She continually referred to that case as she told Morgan that he must consider the “proportionality” of the sentences.

      The defendants emerged from the court to a rousing reception from hundreds of supporters who had spent the day protesting outside. Tamlit said he was “relieved that’s over”.

      “It’s been a gruelling process,” he said. “The flight that went this morning [to Jamaica] put things in perspective. We might have been in jail tonight but people could have visited us and we would have eventually been released.

      “Not going to jail is a partial victory but we are going to keep campaigning to end charter flights, immigration detention and the hostile environment.”

      McKeith’s mother, Ag, said she was pleased at the relatively lenient sentence. But, she said she felt they ought not to have been convicted at all. “Despite the judge’s stern account, it’s simply not true that they endangered anybody at the airport,” she said. “The only people who were in danger were the people on the plane. I watched the trial all the way through and watched the prosecution trying to spin straw into gold, and they didn’t convince me.”

      Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at Aston University, who observed the entire trial, said: “Although the defendants have not got the custodial sentence, the bringing of a terrorism-related charge against non-violent protesters is a very worrying phenomenon. It’s so far the only case [of its type] in the UK, and points to a chilling of legitimate public dissent.”

      The defendants have already filed an appeal against their convictions. Raj Chada, of Hodge, Jones & Allen, represented most of them. “We will be studying the judgment carefully to review whether there are any issues that need to be brought up in the appeal,” he said.

      “It’s striking that nowhere was there any endangerment of individuals identified.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/feb/06/stansted-15-rights-campaigners-urge-judge-to-show-leniency?CMP=Share_An

    • Stansted deportation flight protesters have convictions quashed

      Group of 15 activists were prosecuted under anti-terror laws for blocking immigration removal flight in 2017

      Fifteen anti-deportation activists who were prosecuted under counter-terror legislation for blocking the takeoff of an immigration removal flight from Stansted airport have had their convictions quashed.

      In a judgment handed down by the court of appeal on Friday afternoon, the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said: “The appellants should not have been prosecuted for the extremely serious offence under section 1(2)(b) of the 1990 Act because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence.

      “There was, in truth, no case to answer.”

      The ruling came more than two years after the 15 protesters were convicted following a nine-week trial of endangering the safety of an aerodrome, an offence under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

      It was the first time the terror-related offence, passed in 1990 in response to the Lockerbie bombing, had been used against peaceful protesters.

      The defendants said they were relieved by the decision. May MacKeith, 35, said that the time from their arrest in 2017 to Friday’s ruling put into perspective the experiences of people caught in the UK’s hostile environment immigration system.

      “It was frightening,” she said. “But all along, despite the draconian charge, we knew that our actions were justified. We’ve never doubted that the people on that plane should never have been treated that way by our government.” Of those due to be deported on the flight, 11 were still in the UK, with three granted leave to remain.

      In their appeal, lawyers for the defence argued the legislation used to convict the group was not only rarely used but also was not intended for the kinds of peaceful actions undertaken by their clients. They said the prosecution stretched the meaning of the law by characterising the lock-on equipment they used to blockade the runway as devices used to endanger life.

      Weighing the argument, Burnett said in his judgment: “The closure of the runway was undoubtedly disruptive and expensive, but there was no evidence that it resulted in likely endangerment to the safety of the aerodrome or of persons there.

      “The [deployment] of an unspecified number of police officers when the terrorist threat was severe may have increased the risks within the terminal, but there was no evidence to enable an inference to be drawn that endangerment was likely.

      “There may have been a slightly enhanced risk of a police officer slipping en route to the aircraft, but it would stretch both language and common sense to say that there was likely endangerment, both in terms of the probability of this happening and the seriousness of the consequences if it did happen.”

      Burnett added: “Both the crown’s case and the summing-up collapsed the distinction between risk and likely danger and treated the offence as if it were akin to a health and safety provision.”

      The defendants, all members of the group Stop Deportations, had taken part in a peaceful action that stopped a chartered deportation flight to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone from taking off on 28 March 2017. Members of the group cut a hole in the airport’s perimeter fence before rushing on to the apron at Stansted.

      Four protesters arranged themselves around the front landing gear of the aircraft, locking their arms together inside double-layered pipes filled with expanding foam. Further back, a second group of protesters erected a 2-metre tripod from scaffolding poles behind the engine on the left wing. One of them perched on top of the makeshift structure, while others locked themselves to the base to prevent it from being moved.

      In the moments before police arrived they were able to display banners, including one that said: “No one is illegal.”

      Although members of the group received suspended sentences or community orders, UN human rights experts wrote to the UK government expressing concern over the application of “security and terrorism-related legislation to prosecute peaceful political protesters and critics of state policy”.

      On Friday, rights groups including Amnesty International and Liberty welcomed the ruling. But Raj Chada of Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented the defendants, said questions remained as to why the then attorney general, Jeremy Wright, had authorised the use of the charge in the first place.

      He said: “It does make me uncomfortable that a British cabinet minister has authorised a terror charge against political opponents, that the lord chief justice has decided is completely inappropriate. The appellants should be told, why was this charge used in this way? What information did the attorney general have?”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/29/stansted-deportation-flight-protesters-have-convictions-quashed

    • Stansted 15: Activists who stopped migrant deportation flight have convictions overturned

      Lord Chief Justice says demonstrators have ‘no case to answer’ for offences they were charged with

      A group of activists who stopped a deportation flight leaving Stansted airport have had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.

      They had been prosecuted following a protest in March 2017, where they ultimately prevented a charter flight that was due to deport 60 individuals to Africa.

      The group, known as the Stansted 15, were initially charged with aggravated trespass but the charge was changed to endangering safety at a public airport.

      All defendants denied the offence at trial, and said they were “guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm” to migrants on board the plane.

      On Friday, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Ms Justice Whipple, overturned all 15 demonstrators’ convictions.

      Lord Burnett said the protesters “should not have been prosecuted for the extremely serious offence ... because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence. There was, in truth, no case to answer.”

      The judgment said the offence they were charged with was intended for “conduct of a different nature” after the campaigners’ lawyers told the Court of Appeal the offence used was related to terrorism and had been created in the wake of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

      May MacKeith, a member of the Stansted 15, said almost four years of legal proceedings “should never have happened”.

      “But for many people caught up in the UK immigration system the ordeal lasts much, much longer,” she added.

      “The nightmare of this bogus charge, a 10 week trial and the threat of prison has dominated our lives for four years. Despite the draconian response we know our actions were justified.”

      Raj Chada of Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors, who represented the Stansted 15, said the case should be a matter of “great shame” to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and attorney general.

      “Both have questions to answer as to why they authorised such an unprecedented charge,” he added.

      “Amnesty International adopted the 15 as human rights defenders, Liberty intervened in the case and even the UN, through their special rapporteurs, expressed concern, yet the case went forward.”

      In March 2017, the defendants cut through the perimeter fence of Stansted airport in Essex and used pipes to lock themselves together around a plane.

      The Boeing 767 had been chartered by the Home Office to remove 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, and was stationary on the airport’s apron.

      The trial heard the defendants believed the deportees were at risk of death, persecution and torture if they were removed from Britain, and many were asylum seekers.

      Campaigners said that 11 of the 60 passengers remain in the UK, and included victims of human trafficking.

      The protesters, who all pleaded not guilty, were convicted in December 2018 of the intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990.

      A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court handed three defendants, who had previous convictions for aggravated trespass at airports, suspended prison terms and gave 12 defendants community sentences.

      Judge Christopher Morgan said alleged human rights abuses, immigration policy and proportionality did not have “any relevance” to whether a criminal offence had been committed.

      “In normal circumstances only a custodial sentence would have been justified in this case, but I accept that your intentions were to demonstrate.”

      United Nations human rights experts raised concern over the case and warned the British government against using security-related laws against protesters and critics.

      “We are concerned about the application of disproportional charges for what appears to be the exercise of the rights to peaceful and non-violent protest and freedom of expression,” a statement said in February 2019.

      “It appears that such charges were brought to deter others from taking similar peaceful direct action to defend human rights, and in particular the protection of asylum seekers.”

      The group received high-profile support from MPs and public figures, including the Bishop of Chelmsford.

      An open letter signed by dozens of politicians and academics in September condemned the practice of “secret deportation flights”, which came into renewed focus following the Windrush scandal.

      Amnesty International said the case was part of a Europe-wide trend of volunteers and activists being criminalised for helping migrants.

      Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said the Court of Appeal ruling was a “good day for justice”.

      “The Stansted 15 will take their place in the history books as human rights defenders who bravely brought injustices perpetrated by the state into the light,” she added.

      “This case should never have been brought and there must be lessons learnt for how we treat human rights defenders in this country.”

      Lana Adamou, a lawyer for the Liberty human rights group, called the charges “an attack on our right to express dissent”.

      “All too often it is the most marginalised in society, and those acting in solidarity with them, who bear the brunt of over-zealous policing and crackdowns on protest, making it even more important for the government to take steps to facilitate protest and ensure these voices are heard, rather than find ways to suppress them,” she added.

      At November’s Court of Appeal hearing, lawyers for the activists told the court the legislation used to convict the 15 is rarely used and not intended for a protest case.

      In documents before the court, the Stansted 15’s barristers argued it was intended to deal with violence of the “utmost seriousness”, such as terrorism, rather than risks of “a health and safety-type nature” posed by those who have trespassed at an airport.

      Lawyers for the group also argued that the attorney general – who is required to sign off on the use of the legislation – should not have granted consent for the law to be used in this case, that the crown court judge made errors in summing up the case and in directions given to the jury.

      Barristers representing the CPS had said the convictions are safe and that the trial judge was correct.

      Tony Badenoch QC told the court: “We don’t accept that the act is constrained to terrorism and nothing else.”

      A CPS spokesperson said: “We will consider the judgment carefully in the next 28 days.”

      The 15 are: #Helen_Brewer, 31; #Lyndsay_Burtonshaw, 30; #Nathan_Clack, 32; #Laura_Clayson, 30; #Melanie_Evans, 37; #Joseph_McGahan, 37; #Benjamin_Smoke, 21; #Jyotsna_Ram, 35; #Nicholas_Sigsworth, 31; #Melanie_Strickland, 37; #Alistair_Tamlit, 32; #Edward_Thacker, 31; #Emma_Hughes, 40; #May_McKeith, 35; and #Ruth_Potts, 46.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/stansted-15-deportation-flight-convictions-appeal-b1794757.html