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Updated: 12 hours 55 min ago

Report published into Lukasz Debowski’s death at Morton Hall

16 hours 35 min ago

On 11 January 2017, 27-year-old Lukasz Debowski was found hanged in his room at Morton Hall, an immigration detention centre in Lincoln.

2017 was the deadliest year in immigration detention, with the largest number of deaths. Lukasz Debowski was the first of six people to die that year, and the fifth person to die at Morton Hall (run by the Prison Service).

A recently published Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) report into his death makes for chilling reading. Mr Debowski was arrested for deportation and was identified as a suicide risk in police custody. However, the next day, when he arrived at Morton Hall, staff decided he was not a suicide risk.

A person escort record which accompanied him from the police station ‘noted he had previously attempted suicide and had thoughts of killing himself. The person escort record also indicated that he had been released from a psychiatric hospital five months earlier.’ The PPO was:

‘concerned that the nurse did not find out more information about Mr Debowski’s time in a psychiatric hospital and that she does not appear to have used the available information about Mr Debowski’s risk as a tool to assist her assessment of him.

Similarly, the reception officer told us she could not recall seeing information about Mr Debowski’s risk of suicide or self-harm … but neither the officer nor the nurse appear to have addressed or acknowledged any of the concerns recorded in Mr Debowski’s person escort record and suicide and self-harm warning form. Nor, critically, had they recorded what led to their conclusion that he was not in fact at risk of suicide or self harm, despite the clearly documented risks.’

It was also found that new psychoactive substances (NPS) found in Mr Debowski’s body may have played a role in his death.’ Such substances were ‘too prevalent at Morton Hall’.

Mr Debowski was also told he would be deported to Poland ‘as soon as possible.’ He submitted four bail applications to the First Tier Tribunal. But the

‘Home Office opposed Mr Debowski’s stay in the UK because he had been convicted of serious criminal offences in Poland and they considered that it was not in the public interest for him to remain in the UK. The Home Office did not accept that Mr Debowski had demonstrated a genuine and subsisting relationship with his partner. On 1 December, the court refused Mr Debowski’s first bail application. On 7 December, the Home Office told Mr Debowski of their decision to deport him. (Mr Debowski withdrew his other two bail applications but submitted another application, which was scheduled to be heard on 10 January 2017.)’

On 10 January, he attend a bail hearing by video link but it was refused. This was the day before he died.

The report reveals the contempt with which the Home Office frequently treats migrants (and their families). It took nine hours to inform Mr Debowski’s partner, who had just given birth to their first child, that he had died. The PPO found that there was ‘a need for more effective family liaison arrangements in immigration removal centres’ and that it ‘took too long to tell Mr Debowski’s family of his death’. Similar mistakes occurred after the death of Rubel Ahmed at Morton Hall in September 2014. Ahmed’s family made numerous phone calls to the centre after hearing rumours, and had found staff to be neither ‘sensitive or sympathetic’. And on a visit to the centre ‘on 11 September, they said they found staff defensive and unapologetic and this had compounded their sense of desperation and distress.’

The action plan prepared by the Prison Service after Lukasz Debowski’s death indicates that all the recommended actions have already been completed. This always seems to be the case. A death occurs, there are investigations and recommendations and action plans. Then someone else dies. Something must be going wrong if, last year, deaths in immigration detention reached an all-time high.

Related links

Read other PPO reports here

Read the IRR’s list of Deaths in immigration detention: 1989-2017

Read the IRR report on BAME deaths in custody Dying for Justice 

Connecting the past and the present in Liverpool

17 hours 6 min ago

Danny Reilly reviews an important new book detailing the migrant history of Liverpool. 

Based on the work of the Great War to Race Riots Archive presented to Liverpool-based organisation Writing on the Wall, this book/project centres around the ‘race riots’ in Liverpool in 1919, but tells a much wider and inter-connected story. As its bibliography shows, this is not the first historical account or analysis of the causes, consequences and aftermath of the riots. But it is unique in several important ways.

The background circumstances and the portrait of Liverpool’s black community pre-1919 are told with brevity yet with clarity. Starting with the growing predominance of Liverpool in the slave trade in the eighteenth century, the opening section describes the early arrival of Africans in the city as a by-product of the trade. The fierce opposition to the abolition of the slave trade from many of Liverpool’s merchants and politicians is contrasted with the hypocrisy of abolitionist William Rathbone, who profited from slavery even as he helped to found Liverpool’s anti-slave trade committee. After briefly mentioning the place of the England-based African abolitionists and their English allies in the labour and humanitarian movements, the narrative moves to trace the connections between Liverpool’s black community and the growth of the British Empire up to the First World War.

Having described a black community presence in Liverpool over such a lengthy period, the author’s account of what follows in the war years and after is shocking. Despite the racist dimension included in the pre-war Liverpool story, an unfamiliar reader would be unprepared to learn of the treatment of black troops in the first world war, where British colonial subjects from Africa, the Caribbean, India and elsewhere were subjected to institutional racism. Whether recruited to fight for Britain or volunteers, their treatment by officers, officials and administrators was frequently racist. To add insult to injury, both black soldiers demobbed in England and black workers in the factories during the war years were unemployed when the war ended.

Letter in the Great War to Race Riots archive

The poverty and neglect imposed on many black people in British cities in 1919 was compounded by anti-black ‘race riots’. In Liverpool, rioting occurred in May and June in ‘three phases’. In May, a series of random street attacks on black people, and a subsequent police raid on a ‘black-run gambling house’ resulting in seventeen arrests, proved to be only a forerunner to the June mob riots that lasted several days. Resistance to attacks by the black community led to blame being levelled against them and false police accusations of ‘a riot of negroes’. In the course of one large scale anti-black riot of some 200-300 people, Charles Wootten, who was fleeing two policemen who had raided a house, was seized from the police and thrown into the dock, hit by a stone and killed. The Chief Constable asserted that ‘it was too dark to actually say’ how he got into the water, and the inquest recorded a verdict of ‘found drowned’.

Misleading accounts by the police included the Chief Constable’s description of the ‘animosity’ between the white and ‘coloured’ communities as having been ‘engendered by the arrogant and overbearing conduct of the negro population towards the white and by the white women who live or cohabit with the black men boasting to the other women of the superior qualities of the negroes as compared with those of the white men’. These racist themes fed into the press reporting of events. Racism also lay behind the government’s adoption of repatriation schemes in response, despite official worries that repatriation of former servicemen might promote adverse reactions in the colonies.

Repatriation debates are only one of the many aspects of history which this book examines. The archive on which the book is based (which can be viewed online) provides not only an updated and personalised account of the 1919 Liverpool riots. The Liverpool Lord Mayor’s correspondence, from May 1919 to November 1920, includes testimonies and letters from former servicemen and their families that ‘brings the voices of the black workers…into the centre of the discourse’. Some of these letters are reproduced in photographic form, which, together with photographs of the black servicemen who fought in the war, add a further dimension of remembrance.

But not only does this book make history more accessible: even as it enhances our understanding of the events of 1919, it also relates them to episodes of racist moral panics in more recent British history, such as the ‘black mugging’ scare of the 1970s/ 1980s promoted by the police and press. By connecting the present and the past through the themes of racist violence, racist stereotyping and resistance, this project tells both Liverpool’s story in 1919 and its relevance for today.

Related links

Great War to Race Riots Archive

Writing on the Wall

Beyond Windrush: building the movement for migrants’ rights

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 08:01

Join activists, grassroots groups and migrant campaigners to learn more about what’s wrong with our immigration system and explore practical ways of taking action.

  • Thursday 28 June 2018, 6-9pm
  • Malet Suite, Student Central, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HY

Participants include:

  • Docs Not Cops
  • Migrants Organise
  • Schools Against Borders for Children
  • Let Us Learn
  • Liberty
  • Global Justice Now
Related links 

Book on Eventbrite here

Calendar of racism and resistance (17 May – 7 June 2018)

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 08:03

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Asylum and migration

15 May: Canada grants political asylum to Viktória Mohácsi, a former Hungarian MEP and Roma rights activist. After exposing police incompetence in the Roma serial killers case, Mohácsi received constant threats and sought police protection. (Hope not Hate, 15 May 2018)

17 May: The Home Office announces the suspension of the quarterly checks of the immigration status of current account holders it has demanded of banks since January under hostile environment policies. (Guardian, 17 May 2018)

19 May: After a three-year fight against deportation, Commonwealth champion sprinter Jimmy Thoronka, who overstayed in the UK during the Ebola crisis which devastated his native Sierra Leone, and later discovered it had killed most of his family, is granted leave to remain. (Guardian, 19 May 2018)

22 May: The High Court gives permission for a legal challenge against the Home Office to seek a public inquiry into racism, brutality and abuse at Brook House immigration removal centre, following the September 2017 screening of a BBC Panorama undercover investigation. (Independent, 22 May 2018)

23 May: The Data Protection Act 2018 is passed, containing an exemption for immigration control purposes which prevents migrants knowing what information the Home Office holds on them and whether or not it is accurate. (Parliament, 23 May 2018)

23 May: A migrant, whose name and nationality is unknown, becomes the fifth person to drown this year whilst attempting to cross the Kupa River on the Slovenian-Croatian border. (Infomigrants, 23 May 2018)

24 May: The French government announces that thousands of migrants living in makeshift camps along the Paris canals will be moved, in what will be the thirty-fifth eviction since 2015. (The Local, 24 May 2018)

25 May: The director-general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, Hugh Ind, leaves his job as the number of long resident Commonwealth citizens in the UK who have suffered through their inability to prove their right to be in the UK passes 5,000. (Guardian, 25 May 2018)

At the funeral of Mawda, a two-year-old Kurdish Iraqi girl, who died after being shot near Mons, Belgium

25 May: The House of Commons Defence Select Committee condemns the government’s failure to protect thousands of Afghan former interpreters, weeks after home secretary Sajid Javid bowed to pressure over 150 interpreters seeking permanent stay in the UK, including waiving a £2,389 application fee. (Guardian, 25 May 2018)

25 May: During protests in France and Belgium over the death of a two-year old Iraqi Kurdish child, twenty people are detained after Kurdish families form a human chain across a highway in Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk, where the child’s family lived, and in Brussels, protestors hang children’s clothes outside the Palais de Justice to mark their anger. Meeting the child’s parents, the Belgian prime minister promises a full investigation. (ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 25 May 2018)

28 May: As Mamadou Gassama, an undocumented Malian migrant in France, is given French citizenship and an internship in the fire brigade after rescuing a four-year-old child dangling from a fourth-floor balcony in Paris. Migrant rights organisations accuse the government of using the award as PR to mask harsh new measures against undocumented migrants. (Guardian, 28 May 2018)

28 May: A new report by the NSPCC’s Child Trafficking Advice Centre (Ctac) finds that more than 120 child refugees, believed to have been trafficked to the UK from northern France, have gone missing. Download the report, Uprooted and unprotected: experiences of children forced into migration through Northern France and a multi-agency approach to safeguarding them here.

29 May: Open Democracy reports on a Serco-run hostel for asylum seekers in Manchester which is ‘riddled with cockroaches, rodents and bedbugs’. (Open Democracy, 29 May 2018)

29 May: The Hungarian government introduces the third version of the so-called ‘Stop Soros’ package, which brings within the scope of offences of ‘facilitating illegal immigration’, carrying prison terms of up to a year, activities such as assisting an asylum seeker to submit a claim, conducting human-rights focused border monitoring activities and distributing information leaflets on the asylum procedure. (Hungarian Helsinki Committee, 29 May 2018)

29 May: The government agrees to stop deporting highly skilled migrants for minor financial errors under rules designed for threats to national security, pending a review, after a media and parliamentary campaign. (Guardian, 20, 29 May 2018)

30 May: A 73-year-old Amnesty International volunteer, Martine Landry, is charged with assisting two Guinean minors to cross back into France in July 2017, after they were arrested and returned to Italy, and faces five years in prison and a fine. Landry refutes the allegations, saying she took the children to the police to register their asylum claims. (The Local, 31 May 2018)

31 May: Croatian police open fire on a van carrying people across the Bosnian-Croatian border, injuring two children. (Croatia News, 31 May 2018) 

31 May: The Home Office is accused of lacking basic competence over the routine mislaying and loss of vital documents which leave hundreds in limbo. (Guardian, 31 May 2018) 

31 May: NHS trusts and doctors’ leaders condemn as ‘bonkers and barmy’, and a threat to patient safety, the government’s immigration cap under which over 1,500 doctors’ visas were rejected in January to March 2018, when 93,000 medical posts were unfilled, including 10,000 for doctors. (Evening Standard, 31 May 2018)

6 June: The High Court hears a legal challenge to the government’s right to rent policy, a cornerstone of the hostile environment, by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which claims that it makes landlords far less likely to let to non-British tenants. (Observer, 3 June 2018)

Policing and criminal justice

18 May: The family of Yassar Yaqub, who died in January 2017 after being shot by police on the M62, hold a vigil on what would have been his thirtieth birthday. (Huddersfield Examiner, 17 May 2018)

18 May: PC Claire Boddie is found not guilty of assault for tasering race relations adviser Judah Adunbi in the face, in a case of mistaken identity, in January 2017 in Bristol. (Bristol Post, 18 May 2018)

At the funeral of Mawda, a two-year-old Kurdish Iraqi girl, who died after being shot near Mons, Belgium

18 May: Police open fire on a van carrying twenty-six adult refugees and four children, killing a two-year-old Kurdish Iraqi girl, named as Mawda, near Mons, Belgium. Prosecutors initially claim that the girl, who died after a bullet penetrated the vehicle and hit her cheek, had either been taken ill or died as a result of erratic driving during a car chase aimed at stopping people smugglers. (Guardian, 18 May 2018)

23 May: A senior Brussels police officer, Commissioner Geert Verhoeyen, is under investigation after five officers claim he made hateful comments against gays, foreigners and Jews and denied the Holocaust. The chair of the regional police warns of ‘premature judgement’ of the officer before the investigation’s conclusion. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 23 May 2018)

23 May: PC Mark Baird is to face a misconduct hearing for allegedly racially abusing and becoming ‘drunk and aggressive’ towards a Hull nightclub bouncer after he was refused entry. (Hull Daily Mail, 23 May 2018)

23 May: The National Audit Office publishes: Investigation into government-funded inquiries, download it here.

24 May: The Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) finishes its investigation into the death of Mzee Mohammed in Liverpool 2016, meaning an inquest into his death can be held. (Liverpool Echo, 24 May 2018)

24 May: Met police figures reveal that force is four times more likely to be used against black people than white people. Download the data here. (BBC News, 24 May 2018)

30 May: Leading lawyers accuse the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which refers alleged miscarriages of justice to the appeal court, of systemic failures making it unfit for purpose, saying that it referred only 0.77 per cent of the cases it reviewed in 2016-17. (Guardian, 30 May 2018)

4 June: The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles, who died after being restrained in July 2017 in Hackney, is shown CCTV footage of the restraint and hears that the police officer involved felt something was ‘not quite right’. (Guardian, 4 June 2018)

Anti fascism and the far Right

17 May: Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders announces plans to organise a new ‘Mohammed’ cartoon competition that will be exhibited in parliament. (DutchNews.nl, 17 May 2018)

19 May: A Football Lads Alliance (FLA) demonstration marking the anniversary of the Manchester bomb attack is met by counter-protests staged by United Against Fascism and Manchester Stands up to Racism. (Manchester Evening News, 19 May 2018)

21 May: Far-right extremists assault Yannis Boutaris, mayor of Thessaloniki, leaving him with head, back and leg injuries. (Guardian, 21 May 2018)

22 May: The City of London Corporation is criticised for ‘rolling out the red carpet for the far right’ by hosting Italian politician Armando Siri at an event at the Guildhall, which was also attended by Nigel Farage. (Guardian, 22 May 2018)

23 May: Following a complaint by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, the Standard Chartered Bank fires Tom Dupre, 23, an employee who was identified as the UK leader of Generation Identity in a Sunday Times article. (CityAM, 23 May 2018)

23 May: Wayne Bell, 37, who was found to be a member of the banned group National Action, is jailed for four years and three months after pleading guilty to two counts of stirring up racial hatred and three counts of possessing multiple items in order to destroy or damage property. (Yorkshire Post, 23 May 2018)

23 May: Saxony-Anhalt’s governing three-party coalition distances itself from a parliamentary inquiry initiated by the far-right Alternative for Germany, into left-wing extremism in the state. Its statement promises that the inquiry, chaired by the AfD’s André Poggenburg, who has described Germans of Turkish origin as ‘camel drivers’, will not become a ‘defamatory instrument’ against civil democratic groups and individuals. (Deutsche Welle, 23 May 2018)

23 May: Berlin activists block the office entrance of Alternative for Germany with five ice blocks containing copies of the German constitution, in order to criticise the far-right party’s ‘chilly’ attitude towards constitutional values. (Politico, 23 May 2018)

27 May: Thousands of anti-fascists, including large contingents from the techno scene, mobilise to ‘stop the hatred, stop the AfD’, following an Alternative for Germany rally in Berlin. (Guardian, 28 May 2018)

29 May: Two days after a demonstration outside Downing Street to protest the arrest of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, following a demonstration at Leeds crown court, it is revealed that he has been jailed for thirteen months for contempt of court. (Independent, 27 May 2018; Guardian, 29 May 2018)

31 May: White supremacist Ethan Stables is detained indefinitely in hospital after being convicted of a terrorism-related attempt to carry out a machete attack at a gay pride event at a pub in Cumbria. (Guardian, 31 May 2018)

2 June: The Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) marches in Manchester and is met with a large counter-protest. (Salford Star, 2 June 2018)

Electoral politics

18 May: The new Italian coalition government of the far-right League party and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) promise a ‘serious and efficient’ programme to drive out ‘illegal migrants’, build more detention centres, close down all ‘unregistered’ Roma camps and build a register of religious leaders. (Guardian, 18 May 2018)

22 May: Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s immigration minister, calls Muslims ‘a danger’ during Ramadan, suggesting that they should abstain from working to ‘avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society’. (New York Times, 22 May 2018)

23 May: Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian far-right League party, causes outrage with tweets referring to Roma as ‘gypsy thieves’ and announcing that he would bulldoze their camps. (Al Jazeera, 23 May 2018)

23 May: Stephen Goldsack is sacked as a Conservative councillor in north Lanarkshire after it is revealed he was an active member of the BNP and acted as its Scottish security adviser in 2011. (The National, 23 May 2018)

31 May: The Muslim Council of Britain call for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, citing nine incidents of Islamophobia from Tory candidates and representatives of the party over the last two months. (MCB press release, 13 May 2018)

1 June: Matteo Salvini, the far-right interior minister of Italy, declares that he intends to keep a campaign promise to round up hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Italy and ‘send them home’. (Guardian, 1 June 2018)

4 June: The anti-immigration Slovenia Democratic Party (SDS), who campaigned against the EU refugee quota system and are supported by Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán, emerges as the largest party in the Slovenian general election, with 25 per cent of the vote. (Guardian, 4 June 2018)

4 June: More than 350 mosques and Muslim organisations write to the Conservative Party backing calls for a formal inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia. (Independent, 4 June 2018)

5 June: Two Conservative councillors, from Southampton and Brent, are suspended following allegations that they posted Islamophobic social media content. (Independent, 5 June 2018)

Education

17 May: Members of the University of Birmingham’s cheerleading squad are placed on probation following claims of ‘unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour’ when the group allegedly ignored requests to change a Mexican theme on an upcoming tour. (Birmingham Mail, 17 May 2018)

18 May: A Migration Advisory Committee questionnaire to assess the impact of international students at university is scrapped after academics called the survey ‘racist and unethical’. (Independent, 18 May 2018)

22 May: Research by the London School of Economics and the University of Bristol finds that pupils at schools with a diverse racial mix are much more positive about people of different ethnicities. (BBC News, 22 May 2018)

23 May: Data released by Oxford University reveals one in four of its colleges failed to admit a single black British student each year between 2015 and 2017. (Guardian, 23 May 2018)

31 May: UCAS researchers find that 52 per cent of university applications by black students, who make up only 9 per cent of total applications, were investigated for ‘potential fraudulent activity’ between 2013 and 2017, whereas the figure for suspicious applications by white students, who make up 73 per cent of total applications, was 19 per cent. (Guardian, 31 May 2018)

Media and culture

31 May: Christian leaders and public institutions pledge to defy a new ‘cross obligation’ law in Bavaria, under which public buildings must display Christian crosses in entrances as a response to the refugee crisis and the arrival of Muslim migrants. (Guardian, 31 May 2018)

British Library exhibition: Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land

1 June: The exhibition Windrush: Songs in a strange land opens at the British Library, marking 70 years since the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury carrying a thousand Caribbean migrants. (British Library, 31 May 2018)

Discrimination

31 May: The Danish parliament votes in favour of a ban on Islamic veils to be implemented from August 2018, with a 1,000 kroner (€134) fine for the first offence and up to 10,000 kroner from the fourth violation onwards. (The Local, 31 May 2018)

1 June: The Swiss Federal Council rejects an application to grant the Roma community in Switzerland official status as a national minority under the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. (Swiss info, 1 June 2018)

Employment and labour exploitation

18 May: The International Transport Federation takes the Irish government to court, saying that its official fishing industry permit scheme for migrants from Africa and Asia facilitates the trafficking of victims for modern slavery. (Guardian, 18 May 2018)

23 May: DeeAnn Fitzpatrick, who complained about a racist and misogynistic office culture at Marine Scotland, a Scottish government department, claims she was gagged and taped to a chair by colleagues. (BBC News, 23 May 2018)

Housing

(Credit: Daniel Renwick)

15 May: The Court of Appeal rules that Flintshire council acted lawfully when extending the planning permission by five years for Travellers living on a site in Dollar Park, overturning a High Court ruling in a challenge by a local home owner. (Leader Live, 15 May 2018)

5 June: As the Grenfell inquiry hears how Kensington and Chelsea’s ‘dangerous and reprehensible’ refurbishment of the block turned it into a death trap, Imran Khan QC, representing families of the deceased and survivors, calls for the terms of reference to be expanded to include institutional racism. (Guardian, 5 June 2018)

Sport

18 May: Damien Wynter, an ex-youth player at Chelsea, identifies himself publicly to speak about his experiences of racism while training at the club. (BBC News, 18 May 2018)

National security

25 May: The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights raises concerns about the disproportionately stigmatising effects of French counter-terrorism laws on Muslims, highlighting mosque closures as an encroachment on religious freedom, and recommends that an independent body should oversee counter-terrorism powers. (UN News, 25 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on people

16 May: A man is charged with racially aggravated harassment and using threatening or abusive words, after a member of an ambulance crew working in Lakenheath was racially abused and assaulted. (Ipswich Star, 18 May 2018)

17 May: A 26-year-old man turns himself in after a group of five students were racially abused and attacked whilst waiting for a bus in Newcastle. The attacker head-butted one student and tried to pull off her hijab. (Stoke Sentinel, 17 May 2018)

18 May: The European Roma Rights Support Centre says that the killing of Mitko, a 28-year-old Romani man on 12 May in Shumen, Bulgaria, must be prosecuted as a hate crime against a Romani person. A Bulgarian nationalist known for issuing threats on social media against Roma and Muslims, has been charged with premeditated murder. (ERRC, 18 May 2018)

21 May: British Transport Police in Leeds launch ‘Taxi Watch’, a new scheme that aims to crack down on racially and religiously motivated attacks on taxi drivers, in response to the high number of assaults on drivers in the city. (Leeds Live, 21 May 2018)

22 May: Police appeal for information after a 55-year-old woman was punched in the face for confronting a man who was racially abusing passengers on the 81 bus, between Hounslow and Slough, on 12 May. (Slough Express, 22 May 2018)

24 May: The Derby Telegraph reports on a racist attack in Derby on 5 March, during which Mica Wilks, 29, was racially abused, punched and kicked by a man and two women as she took her 6-month-old nephew for a walk. (Derby Telegraph, 24 May 2018)

31 May: A 32-year-old man is hospitalised after being punched and verbally abused in a racially aggravated attack by a group of men in Leamington on 1 April. (Leamington Observer, 31 May 2018)

2 June: Soumaila Sacko, a  29-year-old Malian man and trade unionist, is shot dead in Calabria, Italy by a white man who opened fire on him and his friends. The USB trades union calls for a nationwide demonstration to protest the racist murder, which they blame on the anti-migrant rhetoric of the new interior minister, Matteo Salvini. (Open Democracy, 6 June 2018)

3 June: A black man walking through Leicester city centre is punched in the face after asking a white man to stop racially abusing a group of Asian men. (Leicester Mercury, 4 June 2018)

4 June: A 39-year-old woman walking to a bus stop in Bolton with her two daughters and son is attacked and left in a critical condition with head injuries. Police later charge Dale Hart, 28, with racially aggravated grievous bodily harm and racially aggravated assault. (Guardian, 4 June 2018, Manchester Evening News, 6 June 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on property

18 May: Windows are smashed and paint is thrown over the front of two houses belonging to Asian families in Banbridge, County Down in a suspected racist attack. A 33-year-old man is arrested and released on bail. (Belfast Telegraph, 18 May 2018)

1 June: Motahid Ali, 36, the owner of Eurasia Indian restaurant in Hull, is subjected to racist abuse by a group of teenagers who stone his restaurant. (HullLive, 1 June 2018)

5 June: A 23-year-old man is arrested in connection with racist graffiti painted on a fence at the University of South Wales in May. (BBC News, 5 June 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on religious institutions

5 June: A mosque and a gurdwara in Beeston, Leeds are targeted by arsonists in the early hours of the morning; both buildings escape serious damage. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 5 June 2018)

Violence and harassment: abuse

17 May: A car belonging to a 46-year-old in west Cumbria has a note left on it reading: ‘refugees not welcome in Flimby. Go Home’. (Whitehaven News, 18 May 2018)

17 May: Police appeal for information after an 11-year-old girl is racially abused and chased by a group of children, between a car park and Morrisons supermarket in Welshpool, Wales on 12 May. (County Times, 17 May 2018)

21 May: Police appeal for information after a young child was racially abused at Morrisons in Exeter on 8 May. (Devon Live, 21 May 2018)

23 May: A teenage girl suffers racist and sexually explicit abuse on a train at Balloch station by a young boy aged around 12 or 13; the driver refuses to move the train until the boy disembarks. (Glasgow Live, 23 May 2018)

24 May: Police appeal for information after a 19-year-old worker at Tesco in Cheshunt was racially abused and spat at by a young white man on 11 May. (Hertfordshire Mercury, 24 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: online racism

18 May: It is revealed that a new government online hate crime unit, announced in October 2017, will only employ four police officers. (Huffington Post, 18 May 2018)

19 May: Dan Hett, the brother of Manchester bombing victim Martyn Hett, is targeted by far-right trolls on social media for opposing a demonstration by the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) in the city. (Indy, 21 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: charges

15 May: A 23-year-old man appears at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court and denies racially or religiously aggravated charges for allegedly attacking a worker at Royal Express Kebabs in Tunbridge Wells. (Kent Live, 16 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: convictions

17 May: Three 16-year-old boys from Crewe plead guilty to racially aggravated assault and are given youth referral orders for racially abusing a taxi driver in Cheshire, May 2017. (Stoke Sentinel, 17 May 2018)

22 May: Silvester Solecki, 32, pleads guilty to two counts of racially aggravated harassment and possession of a bladed article and is jailed for eighteen months, for repeatedly racially abusing a group of Asians at a train station in Manchester. (Warrington Guardian, 22 May 2018)

23 May: A woman, 18, pleads guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and charges of assaulting police officers for racially abusing a doctor at Glan Clwyd Hospital. She is ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay fines and compensation. (North Wales Pioneer, 23 May 2018)

24 May: A man, 19, pleads guilty to harassment and is ordered to pay fines and compensation in connection with a widely-circulated video of a Nottingham Trent University student being racially abused in her student halls of residence in March. (BBC News, 24 May 2018)

25 May: Alison Chabloz, 54, is convicted of two counts of causing an offensive, indecent or menacing message to be sent over a public communications network for writing and posting anti-Semitic songs that mocked the Holocaust on YouTube. (BBC News, 25 May 2018)

31 May: Louise Marie Henwood, 31, is jailed for sixteen weeks and order to pay £200 compensation for racially abusing a doctor at Royal Blackburn Hospital and physically assaulting hospital staff on three separate occasions. (Manchester Evening News, 31 May 2018)

1 June: Christopher Jones, 49, is jailed for four years for following two boys, aged 10 and 16, into their yard, racially abusing them and threatening them with a gas-powered revolver. (GazetteLive, 1 June 2018)

The spiralling dynamic of fear – and how to fight it

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 06:30

Frances Webber reviews Corporate Watch’s new report: ‘Who is immigration policy for? The media-politics of the hostile environment’.

The central thesis of this closely argued and compelling report, Who is immigration policy for? The media-politics of the hostile environment, is that the purpose of tough immigration policies is not to control immigration – ‘deterrent’ policies don’t deter anyone, after all – but to make a show of toughness towards migrants, for the 20 per cent of voters who are very hostile or anxious about immigration. Anti-migrant policies emerge from the dense ecology of ideas produced by the close interaction between politicians and ‘big media’ and fed by far-right sources, as part of the ‘politics of fear’ dominating society.

This is by no means the first report highlighting the mutually reinforcing nature of political, popular and media racism, and the narrow electoral objectives of immigration policy. But it builds the arguments with great clarity and detail, particularly on the way the electorate is segmented for political targeting and the relationships between politicians and media. In sixty well-sourced pages, the report, which is not attributed to a particular author, analyses in turn ‘public opinion’ and the electoral politics of immigration; the relationship between politicians and the media and the latter’s communication power; the role of corporations in politics and media; and the influence of the far-right parties and media outlets. After a look at ‘idea ecologies’ and the politics of anxiety, it concludes with some thoughts for resistance.

The causes of anti-migrant sentiment

According to polling firm Ipsos MORI, for several decades, around sixty percent of the British public have consistently said they want immigration to be reduced, although the importance of the issue to voters has fluctuated dramatically over the past four decades. The authors analyse the demographics, the cultural and economic concerns behind anti-migration sentiment, and a striking finding is the disparity between generalised and personal concern: the fact that far fewer people feel immigration is a problem locally than believe it is a national problem indicates the extent of political and media fabrication of migration as a problem. But politicians target only certain sections of the public on immigration: the so-called ‘key voters’, who are older, white, and either ‘comfortable but concerned’ suburban or rural voters, or working class people living in the north or midlands.

The Blair government played up its attacks on asylum seekers to demonstrate its toughness, while playing down the relatively liberal policies for economically beneficial migrants, including new EU workers and foreign students; the Brown government became more nativist, while Cameron and May, after a short-lived attempt to detoxify the Tories’ ‘nasty’ image (an early coalition policy was to limit the immigration detention of children) switched to fighting Ukip for votes on immigration with their attacks on EU ‘benefit tourists’ and their hostile environment policies against undocumented migrants. A feature of both parties’ policies is the apparently unchallenged belief that to defeat the far Right, its policies must be adopted rather than confronted – leading to the mainstreaming of rhetoric and policies born on the far right.

Fear of media shapes policy

The role of the media is crucial. Its power was demonstrated in 2006, when a media campaign against home secretary Charles Clarke’s lack of toughness, demonstrated by the Home Office failure to deport hundreds of ‘foreign criminals’, resulted in his resignation and replacement by bruiser John Reid. The most infamous direct collusion between government and media was between the Blair government and the Sun, coordinating a crackdown on ‘asylum cheats’ with a solid week of anti-asylum stories in August 2003. The authors contend that most politicians are news junkies, talk to journalists daily, and that much policy is devised with an eye to how it will play in the media. The picture is of a virtually closed world of intense rivalries, ambitions, friendships and gossip – the worst possible environment for policy-making.

The media shape not just policy but also its public reception. And analyses of media content on immigration reviewed in the report reveal that the media overwhelmingly frame immigration in negative terms, as a threat. Thus politicians and media both reflect and enhance popular racism, creating a spiralling dynamic of fear, myth and prejudice, fed by groups like Ukip (represented on a quarter of all Question Time shows between 2010 and 2017), Migration Watch (another frequent contributor to the media’s ‘immigration debate’), and far-right sites such as Breitbart News, which together have moved immigration from a fringe to a mainstream concern and contributed hugely to the Brexit vote.

Challenges for migrant rights activists

One conclusion with far-reaching implications for campaigners is that there is no ‘public debate’ on immigration but a propaganda war, fought not with facts and reason but with emotive stories. In the concluding section, the authors acknowledge that much pro-migrant publicity ‘preaches to the converted’ – and consider what strategies might work better. The final sentence reads: ‘To go up against anti-migrant stories, we will need to tell new stories that are more powerful, more convincing, more true, than [the] anxiety narratives’. As the report was being published, the stories of the Windrush pensioners and their travails at the hands of the Home Office became mainstream news, and for the first time ever, over-tough immigration policies led to a home secretary’s resignation. It may yet be possible to defeat the politics of fear.

Related links

Corporate Watch

Read the report online here

Download a PDF here (441kb)

161 Festival 2018

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 05:20

An anti-fascist music festival.

  • 14-17 June 2018
  • St Kentigerns Irish Social Club, 36 Wilbraham Road, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 7DW
Related links

0161 Festival

St Kentigerns Irish Social Club

Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 05:09

Seventy years since the Empire Windrush carried hundreds of migrants to London, hear the Caribbean voices behind the 1940s headlines. Why did people come? What did they leave behind? And how did they shape Britain?

  • Friday 1 June – Sunday 21 October 2018
  • Entrance Hall, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Related links

British Library Windrush exhibition

Show map

How to get to the Library

Populism, People and the Media

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 05:08

This seminar aims to advance understanding of the political economy of ‘populism’ and to examine the role of traditional media in promoting, investigating or resisting ‘populism’.

  • Wednesday 30 May 2018, 9-6pm, 
  • Goldsmiths, University of London, 8 Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

Speakers  include:

  • Miriyam Aouragh
  • Michaela Benson
  • Joan Pedro Caranana
  • Liz Fekete
  • Natalie Fenton
  • Des Freedman
  • Laura Grattan
  • Tracey Jensen
  • Gholam Khiabany
  • Angela McRobbie
  • Aurelien Mondon
  • Abeyami Ortega
  • Victor Pickard
  • Srirupa Roy
  • Bev Skeggs
  • Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
  • Alberto Toscano

Related links

Sociological Review

Download a programme for the event here

Click here to book

JENGbA responds to the Amnesty International report on the Gangs Matrix

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 06:12

JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) welcomes the damning Amnesty International report that highlights the government’s racist, bogus war on gangs.

The Met’s gang-mapping database, known as the Gangs Matrix, lists individuals as ‘gang nominals’ with each given an automated violence ranking from green to amber and red. As of October 2017, 3,806 people were on the Matrix. Around 40 per cent of these have no recorded involvement in any violent offence. Meanwhile more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those on the Matrix are black – a disproportionate number given that the Met’s own figures show 27 per cent of those responsible for serious youth violence are black. The youngest person on the Matrix is 12 years old and 99 per cent of those listed are male.

The Gangs Matrix fits conveniently with the Joint Enterprise doctrine. It allows the police to choose defendants that a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutor can easily design a gang narrative around in order to gain a conviction – very often for murder which comes with a mandatory life sentence. It is usually young black men as it is easier to convince a jury that young BAME men are all gang members.

JENGbA have argued for years that Joint Enterprise (JE) is racist. The evidential bar in JE cases is far too low and the use of the gang narrative with a possibility of foresight that a crime ‘may or might’ occur is not acceptable.

Most of the people that JENGbA supports are described in courts and the media as having committed gang-related offences. Our own research has revealed that many of those we support have never been convicted of any other offence prior to the JE charge (usually of murder) and do not consider themselves to be part of a gang. Below are responses we received when we asked those convicted of murder whether the ‘gang’ narrative was relied upon by the CPS.

  • CPS showed Instagram account as proof of gang association.
  • Evidence against a co-defendant was that he was in a ‘gang’. And the CPS assumed because we knew each other, I must in a gang too.
  • CPS used a ‘gang’ tattoo obtained as a 14-year-old as evidence: ‘I tried to explain I went to prison at 18 and got out at 23 for robbery and during that trial I realised the so-called friends weren’t what I thought them to be. You find out who your real friends are when you go to jail, so when I got out, I didn’t want anything to do with them anymore but I was convicted purely because of my previous association and the tattoo.’
  • ‘Two out of the nine co-defendants were gang members, the prosecution brought up YouTube videos as evidence of a “gang” which depicted one of my co-Ds. I was not involved or present in any of these videos.’
  • CPS evidence of gang membership was a music video on YouTube featuring defendants.
  • Membership of a motorcycle club was perceived as a gang by the CPS.
  • Attire and clothing was brought up as evidence in the gang narrative.
  • The incident was described as a gang ambush/turf dispute. The evidence was CCTV of defendants shopping in Westfield.
  • A music video and tattoo were used as evidence of gang membership.
  • Phone calls between co-defendants were described as gang-related, however they were just friends. They were also described as ‘Lithuanian foot soldiers’.
  • CPS described the defendants as ‘Yarmouth 5’, a ‘pack of wolves’ and a ‘tag team’.
  • CPS used song lyrics on a phone to prove gang association and the glorification of knife crime.
  • Involved in music representing a particular area was described by the CPS as gang-affiliated.
  • CPS used pictures on a phone as evidence of gang membership (co-defendants were family and friends).

The report really says it all and the evidence that the Matrix is too broad is overwhelming. It cannot be called ‘data’, it is a narrative fuelled by institutional racism. Worse, this report highlights the way the Gangs Matrix is shared across agencies so that negative ideas about a child are passed from schools to social services to the police, resulting in the widespread targeting of young black children.

In terms of criminal prosecutions and JE, the fact that the CPS relies so heavily on the gang narrative is telling, as it shows they often have little or no evidence against individuals. The idea that clothes, phone calls, YouTube footage, song lyrics, tattoos or previous friendships are enough to convict individuals of murder is abhorrent and defiles the most important of legal principles – that you are ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

The cases detailed above are overwhelmingly of young BAME men. The public are fed a constant stream of misinformation about ‘gangs’ involving young black men, so that if the police and prosecutors decide to charge large groups for the actions of one or two individuals and tarnish them all with gang associations then juries will believe they are all ‘in it together’ and convict. Indeed, in one recent case the judge said to seven west London school friends aged between 13 and 16 (all black): ‘You may not have been in a gang but you were a gang on the day.’ Chilling and racist; this is the current state of our criminal justice system; one which is no longer fit for purpose.

Related links

IRR News: Liz Fekete on the Amnesty International Gangs Matrix report: Police database spreads institutional racism

IRR News: Lord Herman Ouseley on the Amnesty International Gangs Matrix report: Screwed by the system

Amnesty International report: Trapped in the matrix: Secrecy, stigma, and bias in the Met’s Gangs Database

The Monitoring Group report by Stafford Scott: The War on Gangs or a Racialised War on Working Class Black Youths

JENGbA

JENGbA blog

JENGbA on Twitter

Calendar of racism and resistance (4 – 16 May 2018)

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 07:31

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Asylum and migration

8 April: Corporate Watch publishes The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops, download the report here

30 April: Ismael Bokar Deh, 58, a father of eight in France for 18 years and undocumented worker who sold tourist trinkets, dies from his injuries after being struck by a police car on rue Carnot, near Versailles, as he fled from police. (InfoLibertaire, 6 May 2018)

1 May: The Independent Monitoring Board finds staff use of force against detainees at Brook House IRC has doubled in a year, download its report here. (BBC News, 2 May 2018)

2 May: The Independent Monitoring Board publishes its Annual report at Port of Dover Short Term Holding Facility for reporting Year 2017, download it here

3 May: Police raid a migrant shelter in the German town of Ellwange, three days after the occupants forced police to abandon an attempt to deport an asylum seeker to Togo. (Reuters, 3 May 2018)

4 May: The Home Office announces that G4S will continue to operate Brook House removal centre, despite revelations of abuse of detainees. (Corporate Watch, 7 May 2018)

4 May: The High Court criticises new home secretary Sajid Javid after a wheelchair-bound disabled man was released from immigration detention to a house that was not wheelchair accessible. (Guardian, 4 May 2018)

4 May: The Independent Monitoring Board publishes: Annual Report for Immigration Removal Centre The Verne for the period 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017, download it here

6 May: The Home Office is accused of abusing powers designed to tackle terrorism, after it is revealed that at least 1,000 highly skilled migrants face deportation as a result of minor financial errors. (Guardian, 6 May 2018)

7 May: Corporate Watch have updated their UK Detention Centres Factsheet, download it here

7 May: A 19-year-old Vietnamese man, a recognised victim of child slavery, launches a legal action against the Home Office after he was sexually assaulted while being illegally detained at Morton Hall. (Guardian, 7 May 2018)

7 May: Six people are injured and four arrested during clashes at the Langadika refugee centre outside Thessaloniki in northern Greece. (Ekathimerini, 7 May 2018)

7 May: Three firefighters from Spain and two volunteers from Denmark, accused of human smuggling by Greek authorities for their work as humanitarian activists, are cleared of all charges on the first day of their trial. (The Local, 8 May 2018)

8 May: Italian and British authorities leave a ship carrying 105 migrants stranded at sea for two days whilst they stall in making a decision, before allowing the ship to dock in Italy. (The Local, 8 May 2018)

8 May: Refugees who were shipwrecked off the coast of Libya file a case against the Italian government at the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that it is responsible for the drowning of twenty asylum seekers, as the Libyan coastguard prevented a Sea Watch rescue ship from helping them, in pursuance of an agreement with Italy which lawyers call ‘pullback by proxy’. (Al Jazeera, 8 May 2018)

9 May: A report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, is critical of the Home Office for its lack of ‘strategic oversight’ for newly arrived refugees under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). Download the report here. (Guardian, 9 May 2018)

9 May: Educationalists call on the government to rethink rules that deny children of those with uncertain immigration status access to free school meals. (Guardian, 9 May 2018)

9 May: In a U-turn of ‘hostile environment’ policy, the NHS will no longer be required to hand immigrants’ data over to the Home Office for immigration enforcement. (Guardian, 9 May 2018)

10 May: The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration publish a call for evidence on ‘Windrush compensation’. The consultation closes on 8 June 2018. View details here.

10 May: The Independent Monitoring Board publishes its Annual Report at North and Midlands Short Term Holding Facilities, download it here

13 May: Homeless EEA nationals who have been illegally detained for deportation are to receive compensation, following a judicial review in December that halted the policy. Tomas Lusas, a Lithuanian national, has been awarded £10,000 in damages. (BBC News, 13 May 2018)

14 May: Freedom of Information requests made by the BBC find that over half of UK police forces are routinely handing over victims of crime to the Home Office for immigration enforcement. (BBC News, 14 May 2018)

14 May: The Public Interest Law Unit (Pilu) lodges a complaint with the Charity Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) against the homeless charity St Mungo’s for its work with the Home Office which resulted in homeless migrants being arrested, detained and deported, in some cases unlawfully. (Guardian, 14 May 2018)

14 May: The government of the Republika Sprska, Bosnia’s mainly Serbian entity, calls for the closure of Bosnia’s state borders to migrants, saying that since the 2016 closure of the ‘Balkan route’ which had allowed migrants to reach western Europe, Bosnian institutions have been unable to ‘establish control’. (Balkans Insight, 14 May 2018)

15 May: Figures released by the Ministry of Social Policy and Integration in the German state of Hesse reveal that seventy asylum seekers attempted to commit suicide, four of whom died, in Hesse in the last year, with most incidents taking place in the special transit zone of Frankfurt airport. (InfoMigrants, 15 May 2018)

15 May: An HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report finds that on a charter flight deporting twenty-three people to third countries, staff from Tascor (a subsidiary of Capita) outnumbered detainees three to one and nearly all detainees were placed in waist restraint belts, which the inspector states was ‘not necessary, proportionate or reasonable’. Download Detainees under escort: Inspection of a Third Country Unit removal to France, Austria and Bulgaria, here.

Policing and criminal justice

6 May: Spanish police arrest Jamie Acourt, 41, a former suspect in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, for extradition to the UK on alleged drugs offences. (BBC News, 6 May 2018)

8 May: A new report by Amnesty International on the gangs violence matrix used by the Met police finds that 87 per cent of those on the database come from BAME communities and that young black people have been stigmatised as a result. Download the report, Trapped in the matrix: Secrecy, stigma, and bias in the Met’s Gangs Database, here. (Guardian, 9 May 2018)

8 May: The Monitoring Group publishes a report by Stafford Scott, The War on Gangs or a Racialised War on Working Class Black Youths, download it here

9 May: Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) publishes issue forty-six of its newsletter, download it here

10 May: In one of the biggest rallies in Munich for years, eighty civil society groups and political organisations mobilise over 30,000 people to protest against Bavaria’s Police Tasks Bill. The bill uses the counter-terrorism term ‘impending danger or peril’ as a justification for the extension of police powers to intervene before an offence takes place, and aims at the deployment of a Bavarian border police alongside federal officers. (Deutsche Welle, 10 May 2018)

11 May: An employment tribunal finds that retired police officer Zaheer Ahmed was subjected to ‘unconscious racial discrimination’ by North Yorkshire Police as he tried to gain promotion. A further hearing will take place to decide compensation. (York Press, 11 May 2018)

15 May: New research into the use of facial recognition by Big Brother Watch finds that identification is wrong in 90 per cent of cases and the use of the technology at Notting Hill Carnival last year had a 98 per cent error rate. Download the report, The lawless growth of facial recognition in UK policing here. (Guardian, 15 May 2018)

Anti fascism and the far right

4 May: Around eighty far-right extremists attack journalists covering a government migration-related visit to Lesbos, Greece. (Ekathimerini, 4 May 2018)

5 May: Scottish independence supporters marching through Glasgow are confronted by a man carrying a union jack and appearing to make Nazi salutes. (Herald, 7 May 2018)

6 May: Speakers including the leader of UKIP Gerard Batten, Anne Marie Waters (For Britain) and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos address a demonstration for free speech in central London, called after the Twitter ban on ex-leader of the EDL Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson. (Guardian, 6 May 2018)

7 May: Officials at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum in Poland report that they have been subjected to a campaign of disinformation and abuse, including the vandalising of the home of a guide, which they attribute to a new law criminalising speech that alludes to the role Poland played in the Holocaust. (Guardian, 7 May 2018)

Chad Williams-Allen and Gary Jack

9 May: Four men, Chad Williams-Allen, 26, Gary Jack, 22, and two unnamed men, are found guilty of inciting racial hatred for putting up National Action stickers at Aston University in July 2016, and will be sentenced on 1 June. (Independent, 9 May 2018)

14 May: Jeremy Bedford-Turner, 48, is jailed for stirring up racial hatred in a speech made in Whitehall in July 2016 after far-right groups were stopped from marching through Golders Green. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had initially refused to prosecute but the decision was challenged by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. (Guardian, 14 May 2018)

14 May: Austrian prosecutors announce criminal charges against seventeen members of the far-right ‘Identitarian Movement’ (IBO), following raids last month at the homes of several members. (The Local, 14 May 2018)

National security 

11 May: Theresa May apologises for Britain’s role in the 2004 rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, with the help of MI6, to Libya, where they were detained and tortured. Fatima Boudchar, who was pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, will receive £500,000 compensation. (Guardian, 11 May 2018)

Education

9 May: Eleven male students at Warwick University are suspended pending an investigation into racist slurs and rape jokes used in Facebook messages. (Independent, 9 May 2018)

9 May: A Berlin court upholds the city authorities’ decision to ban a primary school teacher from wearing a headscarf in classes, saying neutrality takes precedence over the right to free expression, and that small children ‘should be free of the influence’ of religious symbols. The plaintiff can teach in secondary schools, the court said. (Deutsche Welle, 9 May 2018)

11 May: The Home Office begins reviewing cases of asylum seekers denied access to education as part of its ‘hostile environment’ policy. (BBC News, 11 May 2018)

11 May: It is revealed that the men’s hockey club at Hull University created a ‘punishment’ of drinking a pint for racist comments, as they were being made so often. (Hull Daily Mail, 11 May 2018)

14 May: The Oratory School in Oxfordshire apologises after photographs of its pupils dressed as slaves and slave-owners, with some pupils blacked up, appear on social media. (BBC News, 11 May 2018)

Employment and labour exploitation

10 May: A Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) report examining modern slavery in the construction industry finds that major contractors are heavily reliant on migrant labour and immigration checks are conflated with modern slavery checks. (CIOB, 10 May 2018)

12 May: The Royal College of Nursing calls for a stop to charging overseas nurses working in the NHS in order to receive care for themselves and their families. Currently, non-EEA nationals working for the NHS must pay a £200 health surcharge per family member, due to double later this year. (RCN, 12 May 2018)

Housing

3 May: Somali women in Brent stage a demonstration against alleged ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the London borough, which has resulted in the displacement of families and the disruption of their children’s education. (Wembley Matters, 3 May 2018)

8 May: The House of Commons Library publishes a briefing paper by Hannah Cromarty: Gypsies and Travellers, download it here

Discrimination

12 May: Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, finds that ethnic minorities in the UK have been disproportionately affected by the government’s austerity and immigration policies. (Guardian, 12 May 2018)

Health

4 May: A survey by Pulse magazine finds that a quarter of BAME GPs claim to have been racially abused at least once a month by patients. (Pulse, 4 May 2018)

Media and culture

8 May: A new play about the far Right in the UK, The Ununited Kingdom, is withdrawn due to concerns raised by its own cast members that the play was racist. (The Stage, 8 May 2018)

9 May: The Daily Telegraph pays undisclosed damages to Mohammed Kozbar, the chairman of Finsbury Park mosque, over an article claiming he supported violent Islamist extremism, written by Andrew Gilligan in March 2016. (Independent, 9 May 2018)

Sport

9 May: Chelsea FC brings in charity Barnardo’s to oversee an independent investigation into allegations of racism towards black youth players who claim they were racially abused by Gwyn Williams and Graham Rix in the 1990s. (Guardian, 8 and 9 May 2018)

10 May: Tony Henry, a former West Ham football scout, is charged with misconduct by the Football Association in relation to comments he made to an agent about African players. (Shropshire Star, 10 May 2018)

Electoral politics

6 May: The Conservative Party is criticised after regaining control of Pendle Council following the reinstatement of councillor Rosemary Carroll, who had been suspended for sharing racist jokes on Facebook. (BBC News, 6 May 2018)

8 May: Over eighty complaints are made to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards over a ‘racist, sectarian and offensive’ tweet posted by Jolene Bunting, a Belfast city councillor. (Belfast Telegraph, 8 May 2018)

10 May: Nick Farmer, an Ossett Conservative councillor, is suspended after it is revealed he had been dismissed from the fire service for ‘offensive remarks’. He is re-elected as an independent. (BBC News, 10 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on people 

3 May: In an Edinburgh hostel, Syrian refugee Shahbaz Ali, 28, is stabbed six times and left seriously injured following an attack by two men and two women, as he attempted to protect a female relative. A 17-year-old is later charged. (Daily Record, 6 and 7 May 2018)

3 May: A 15-year-old Italian boy suffers a broken nose in an attack by a gang in Buile Hill Park, Salford which his father claims was racially motivated. (Manchester Evening News, 5 May 2018)

6 May: Two young Jewish boys are racially abused and assaulted in Golders Green at the North Circular road crossing. (Jewish News, 8 May 2018)

10 May: Hundreds protest in Edinburgh in support of Syrian refugee, Shabaz Ali, who was stabbed in a racist attack. (CommonSpace, 11 May 2018)

14 May: Ian Cleaver, a security guard at Northgate bus station in Northampton, is given an award for bravery after disarming a man wielding a meat cleaver who was racially abusing passers-by. (Northampton Chronicle, 14 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on property

4 May: Racist graffiti is daubed on the walls of a new housing development in east Belfast and fifteen windows are broken, in an attack that police are treating as racially motivated. (Belfast Telegraph, 5 May 2018)

14 May: Racist graffiti is daubed on beach huts in Shoebury. (Brainstree & Witham Times, 14 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: abuse

5 May: A 19-year-old man is racially abused and followed by a gang of up to eight teenagers aged between 13-15, whilst out with friends in Tidworth. (SpireFM, 8 May 2018)

9 May: Police appeal for information after a 44-year-old black woman is racially abused on a bus from Crosspool to Sheffield city centre. (ITV, 9 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: charges

8 May: Steven Robson, 54, appears at court charged with the racially aggravated assault of a security guard at a Marks & Spencer store in Carlisle. (Cumbria Crack, 8 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: convictions

8 May: Kamil Sciebior, 29, is jailed for five years after admitting arson being reckless as to endangering life, which was found to be racially aggravated, racially abusing workers at a petrol station and setting charcoal alight. (Manchester Evening News, 8 May 2018)

9 May: Nicola Coomber is found guilty of two counts of religious and racial hatred for racially abusing her neighbours in Margate. She is given a twelve month discharge, and ordered to pay compensation and costs. (Kent Online, 9 May 2018)

9 May: At South Cumbria magistrates’ court, Jason Heasley, 42, pleads guilty to a charge of racially aggravated threatening or abusive behaviour. He is fined and ordered to pay compensation, a victim surcharge and costs. (NW Evening Mail, 11 May 2018)

10 May: Flintshire man Sean Maguire, 49, is found guilty of two counts of publishing or distributing written matter intended to stir up religious hatred, for posting ‘Kill all Muslims’ on Facebook after the Westminster terror attack. Sentencing is adjourned until 14 June. (Daily Post, 10 May 2018)

11 May: Police release CCTV images of men, believed to be Leeds United fans, wanted in connection with racial abuse on a train between Leeds and Sheffield. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 11 May 2018)

11 May: Shaista Aziz, a newly elected Labour councillor in Oxford, complains to police that she was racially abused at the election count on 4 May. (This is Oxfordshire, 11 May 2018)

11 May: Craig Garnell, 29, admits assault causing actual bodily harm and affray for attacking a promoter and racially abusing a bouncer at a club in Liverpool where he worked. He is sentenced to twelve months in prison suspended for eighteen months, and given a curfew. (Liverpool Echo, 11 May 2018)

14 May: O2 apologises to a British Iraqi family after leaflets addressed to ‘Mr Isis Terroriste’ and ‘Mr Getout Ofengland’ are sent to the family in London. (BBC News, 14 May 2018)

 15 May: Wayne Williams, 34, is found guilty of racially aggravated harassment and threatening behaviour for racially abusing an Asian couple outside an Asda store in Wrexham and throwing snowballs at their car. He is given a six month community order, and ordered to pay a fine, costs and compensation. (Leader Live, 15 May 2018)

15 May: Two women from Fife, Frances Duggan, 61, and Annette Hay, 52, are found guilty of acting in a racially aggravated manner towards Marcin Tatartoinowicz, a bus driver, who they called a ‘Nazi’ as he drove the women home from the Edinburgh Festival. Both women receive community payback orders with 150 hours of unpaid work. (Dunfermline Press, 15 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: research and statistics

9 May: Freedom of Information requests reveals that fewer people are being charged with racially and religiously aggravated hate crimes in England and Wales, despite a two-fold increase in reports. (BBC News, 9 May 2018)

10 May: According to new research by Citizens UK, three out of five Muslims in Nottingham have been the victim of hate crime. Download the report, Still no place for hate: analysis of the findings of the Nottingham Citizen’s Hate Crime Survey, here.

Excessive use of restraint during charter deportation flight 

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 06:59

A new report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons on an inspection of a 2017 charter flight deporting people to third countries makes for horrifying reading.

The report, Detainees under escort: Inspection of a Third Country Unit removal to France, Austria and Bulgaria, which is only seventeen pages long, is full of disturbing information on how a group of twenty-three people were treated during deportation — essentially like animals being transported or cargo being moved from one place to another. 

The basics first: the charter flight took place in February 2017 from London Biggin Hill and travelled to France, Austria and Bulgaria. The escort contractor Tascor (which is part of Capita plc) provided eighty escort staff to twenty-three people being deported (a ratio of roughly three escort staff to every person being deported). There were also two health care staff on the flight. 

In his damning introduction, the CI, Peter Clarke, says: 

‘We had serious concerns about the way that this operation was conducted, principally around the excessive use of restraints. Nearly all detainees were placed in waist restraint belts for the entire journey. The documentation and our own observations showed that, in many cases, restraints were not necessary, proportionate or reasonable. Detainees’ compliance was not tested during the journey, and restraints remained in place for longer than necessary. We regularly inspect other detention settings where far more disruptive and challenging behaviour is managed without such physical restraints. 

This is not the first time that such concerns have been raised. The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) — which, like HM Inspectorate of Prisons, is a member of the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism – routinely monitors charter removals. The IMB monitored a third country removal to Germany in June 2017. All 30 detainees on that operation were placed in waist restraint belts at the immigration removal centre (IRC) from which they were collected.’

The briefing for escort staff ’emphasised the risks of disruption’ and ‘focused solely on control and not on detainees’ treatment or welfare. Staff clearly thought they were dealing with a very high risk group… dire warnings were not grounded in evidence.’

Of the twenty-three people on the flight all but one were ‘unnecessarily’ restrained in waist restraint belts ‘and there was an obvious presumption in favour of using the belts.’ The inspectors found that  people ‘remained in waist restraint belts for far too long.’ And that: 

‘After take-off, some belts were moved from the secure position (where hands are clamped to the waist) to the restricted position (hands can move freely from the elbow, but arm movement is restricted). Other than this, the use of restraints was not reviewed regularly, and all detainees remained in restraints until disembarkation.’ 

This was a thirteen-hour flight (not including the journey times from Brook House and Colnbrook detention centres and waiting times at the airports).

There was a lone woman on the flight, with twenty-two men, and according to the CI:

‘The treatment of the single female detainee was concerning. The detainee was assessed as vulnerable and being at risk of self-harm or suicide. She was transferred in her pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown and a waist restraint belt, despite a lack of evidence that one was required or proportionate. She was distressed throughout the flight.’

The CI also found that ‘staff spoke to each other in loud and jocular voices over the heads of detainees. One escort loudly said to another that the detainee she had been allocated, “tried to be a bit of an arse but soon realised there was no point”.’

Inspectors also found that: 

  • Managers used depersonalising language to describe detainees, briefing that ‘disruptives will be loaded on to the coach’.
  • Escort staff resorted to force and pain compliance too quickly without sufficient de-escalation.
  • There was an unprofessional approach by some staff towards detainees that involved much shouting at them.
  • Professional interpreters were not present to facilitate communication and communication with at least two people was ineffective.
  • Paramedics inappropriately read all confidential medical notes, rather than on the basis of any specific concern.
  • Waist restraint belts were used excessively and those in restraint belts were not allowed to walk freely throughout the entire journey, even to go to the toilet on the aircraft. 
  • Eight people resisted and force was used on them. 
  • Pain compliance was used on five people. 
  • Restraint was disorganised with too many staff involved and no one in overall control. Officers made insufficient efforts to de-escalate situations.
  • An escort stopped filming a use of force incident before the incident had finished.

One of the most important recommendations from the report reads: 

‘Staff should only use force against people under escort as a last resort. Any use of physical force, waist restraint belts or handcuffs should be planned and sequenced, and limited to situations where it can be justified. Restraints should be removed at the earliest opportunity. Escorts should behave in a professional, calm and measured way at all times.’

Jimmy Mubenga

This recommendation will no doubt be ignored if history is anything to go by. The introduction to the report reveals that concerns have previously been raised by the IMB about an earlier charter flight where all thirty passengers were restrained in waist restraint belts at the detention centres — even before they had boarded the plane. And now, this most recent inspection finds ‘nothing had changed’.

These deportations are the end point of the hostile environment. What is missing is the impact on the people deported whose only crime had been to seek asylum. What happened to the twenty-three? 

How is it that in the twenty-first century the British government is still shackling people — reminiscent of slaves being transported some 300 years on. Reading this report it becomes clear that it is only a matter of time before there is another death like Jimmy Mubenga or Joy Gardner.

Related links

IRR News: Could Jimmy Mubenga’s death have been prevented?

Corporate Watch report: Collective Expulsion: The Case Against Britain’s Mass Deportation Charter

Corporate Watch immigration detention centres factsheet

Police database spreads institutional racism

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 06:26

The IRR welcomes Amnesty International and The Monitoring Group’s recent reports on the racially discriminatory nature of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Gangs Matrix intelligence database.

The fact that the Information Commissioner’s Office has launched an investigation into whether the Metropolitan Police Service Trident Gangs Matrix breaches the Data Protection Act is welcome, but the dangers go beyond this.[1] The Home Office, local authorities and all other public sector agencies involved in the multi-agency approach to combating ‘gang-associated activity’ should, according to the IRR, review procedures to ensure that they are not contributing to a form of racialised data profiling that has serious repercussions for the human rights of young people, particularly black boys and young black men. For there is evidence to suggest we are witnessing a continuation of the ‘Windrush scandal’, only, this time it is the grandchildren of the Windrush generation that have been let down by the expansive scope of the ‘hostile environment’ precept, targeted now at inhabitants of certain neighbourhoods and particular estates in London and, in other areas of the UK.[2]

Three years ago, Institute of Race Relations’ trustee Professor Lee Bridges described the Metropolitan Police’s Gangs Matrix intelligence database and the policing operations and practices, that utilise them, including ‘intelligence-led stop and search’, as ‘institutional racism in action’. Two reports published last week by Amnesty International and The Monitoring Group have advanced understanding of such racism in action.[3] In differing, but complementary ways, they reveal the logic and mechanics of structural racism and expose its founding narrative by David Cameron and Boris Johnson in 2011 that ‘urban gangs’ were to blame for the ‘riots’, and a war against ‘gangs culture’ was the solution.

At every stage – from the use of secret algorithms to calculate risk, to the disproportionate and discriminatory inclusion of so many young black men and boys on the Gang Matrix (99 of the 100 ‘gangsters’ listed on the Haringey Matrix are black) to the absence of any clear protocol for the review or removal of the names of those listed – these reports explore the ways in which processes of demonisation (of black urban youth culture) and racial stigmatisation (of specific estates) affect not just individuals, but whole communities. This racialised labelling  creates ‘suspect communities’, and leaves many young black people dispossessed, ostracised, and excluded from society as the stigma of being a ‘gang nominal’ is reflected back at him as he goes about his daily life and tries to access services.

Both reports go beyond just dissecting flaws in policing; pinpointing in very precise ways the role played by government departments, spearheaded by the Home Office, in allowing racial profiling to spread across a range of institutions. Most telling is the unthinking ease with which a multitude of agencies – from the probation service to youth offending teams, from job centres to housing associations, from local authority to voluntary sector partner agencies, appear to have colluded in the racialised logic that underpins the Gangs Matrix.

Related links

IRR News: Lord Herman Ouseley on the Amnesty International Gangs Matrix report: Screwed by the system

IRR News: JENGbA responds to the Amnesty International report on the Gangs Matrix

Amnesty International report: Trapped in the matrix: Secrecy, stigma, and bias in the Met’s Gangs Database

The Monitoring Group report by Stafford Scott: The War on Gangs or a Racialised War on Working Class Black Youths

Screwed by the system

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 06:26

Lord Herman Ouseley writes for IRR News on the findings of a recent Amnesty International report on the Gangs Matrix.

By October 2017, there were 3,806 individuals on the Gangs Matrix, 87 per cent of whom were Black, Asian and of a minority ethnic background, 78 per cent of whom were black. Amnesty International spent the past year researching this Matrix and found that the database was compiled based on a vague and ill-defined concept of what is a gang. Forty per cent of those on the list had no record of being involved in any violent offence in the previous two years and 35 per cent never had a serious offence attached to their name.

The system simply defines you as a gang member if you are young, (as young as 12 years old), you are male (99 per cent) and if you are black. It is part of a tried and tested formula for stigmatising and ruining the lives of young, black men. The system utilised the previous Vagrancy Act to treat young black men as suspected persons and picked them off the street; the notoriously used stop and search tactics were part of the same process and still play a part in the racialised profiling and criminalising of young black men; the rounding up of groups of young people and using the joint enterprise doctrine to criminalise those who have not actually committed a crime; and now the gangs matrix takes it a stage further. It uses the data collected about each person on the list across the entirety of the system to share with the other social agencies such as the CPS, criminal justice authorities, housing, education, immigration, employers, social services etc. If you are on the Gangs Matrix, your life is blighted, because you are defined as a gang member and stigmatised as a person whose card is marked. You surely are on a blacklist!

As with the Windrush fiasco, the system, which is the network of power, prejudice and decision makers, determines the processes to apply to achieve the outcomes which are most detrimental to the intended beneficiaries. In the case of Windrush, it is all about the hostile environment, now a compliant one, which presumes guilt and determines who is guilty without any reasonable consideration for fact or evidence. The Gangs Matrix is underpinned by institutional racism. It may have been well intentioned but the collective actions are discriminatory.

The Amnesty International 53-page report could be a watershed moment to expose these unaccountable activities which infringe on human rights, have a discriminatory impact, are approved by those at the highest levels of society and all done with the clear expectation of being able to get away with it. Amnesty International must be supported in their call for the disbandment of this arrangement and for an urgent independent investigation into the whole damn system!

Related links

IRR News: Liz Fekete on the Amnesty International Gangs Matrix report: Police database spreads institutional racism

IRR News: Lord Herman Ouseley on the Amnesty International Gangs Matrix report: Screwed by the system

IRR News: JENGbA responds to the Amnesty International report on the Gangs Matrix

Amnesty International report: Trapped in the matrix: Secrecy, stigma, and bias in the Met’s Gangs Database

Amnesty International Gangs Matrix campaign

Calendar of racism and resistance (20 April – 3 May 2018)

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:22

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Asylum and migration

14 April: The trial of the Stansted 15, who face terror-related charges for grounding a deportation charter flight, is adjourned until 1 October 2018. View details of a crowdfunder for the defendants here.

18 April: The Austrian cabinet approves new measures that will force asylum seekers to hand over mobile phones and up to €840 to authorities. It is said that the money will be put towards the cost of asylum applications, while the phone’s geo-location data will be used to confirm accounts of how asylum seekers arrived in the country. (The Local, 18 April 2018)

19 April: The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC) calls for the forcible sedation of distressed, vulnerable and mentally ill immigration detainees in order to easily transfer them to hospital. Read the report here. (The National, 19 April 2018)

20 April: Four Italians and two Swiss activists are taken into custody in the French town of Gap, charged with ‘helping illegal immigrants enter national territory’, after around a hundred activists crossed the border into France with a group of thirty people. (The Local, 23 April 2018)

20 April: Theresa May announces that Windrush migrants who suffered ‘anxieties and problems’ as a result of government immigration policy will be paid compensation. (Guardian, 23 April 2018)

20 April: Forensic Oceanography releases a new investigation that questions the key evidence for the Italian authorities’ case against the rescue ship Iuventa, operated by German nonprofit Jugend Rettet. (The Intercept, 20 April 2018)

20 April: The AIRE Centre launch a crowdfunder to bring a legal challenge in the Court of Appeal against Operation Nexus, a joint Met Police and Home Office initiative, which includes people without any convictions to be deported from the UK. View details here.

21 April: Around 100 Generation Identity activists attempt to block a French alpine at Col de l’Echelle near the border with Italy, erecting a ‘symbolic border’ to notify migrants ‘that the border is closed and they must return home’. (The Local, 21 April 2018)

23 April: The French National Assembly passes the first reading of a new immigration and asylum bill, which seeks to reduce undocumented migration by stricter enforcement of expulsion orders and shortening the period allowed for submitting asylum claims. (The Conversation, 26 April 2018)

23 April: The Tribunal Procedure Committee publishes Rules on how cases are handled in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, download it here.

23 April: Asylum seekers staging a sit-in protest in Lesbos against being held on the island are attacked by far-right activists chanting ‘Burn them alive’ and hurling flares and other objects. Police arrest 122 people, 120 of whom are Afghan refugees. (Ekathimerini, 24 April 2018)

23 April: It is reported that the number of missing unaccompanied minors in Belgium has dramatically increased, from 284 in 2016 to 618 missing minors in 2017. (Brussels Times, 23 April 2018)

23 April: Less than a week after Greece’s highest court ruled that preventing asylum seekers from leaving the islands under the EU-Turkey deal was unconstitutional, the Greek asylum service director re-imposes the restrictions. (Ekathimerini, 24 April 2018)

23 April: Commonwealth citizens in the UK since 1973 are promised free British citizenship, without language and ‘knowledge of life in Britain’ tests, the right to return here for those who left, and compensation. (Guardian, 23 April 2018)

24 April: Windrush migrant Sylvester Marshall, who used the name Albert Thompson, previously refused cancer treatment due to questions over his immigration status, is told that his treatment is scheduled to start on 30 May. He is also given the right to remain in the UK permanently. (Guardian, 24, 28 April 2018)

25 April: Home secretary Amber Rudd tells parliament’s Home Affairs Committee that the Home Office did not have removal targets and that the Windrush scandal was not caused by hostile environment policies or targets, but people’s lack of documentation. (Guardian, 25 April 2018)

26 April: Called back the following day, Rudd admits that local targets were used for ‘internal performance management’ but that they were not published to ‘assess performance’. She adds that she would ‘never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people’. Labour calls for her to resign. (Guardian, 26 April 2018)

27 April: A secret memo leaked to the Guardian reveals that the Home Office set a target of 12,800 enforced removals for 2017-18. Rudd tweets that she was unaware of specific removal targets. (Guardian, 27 April 2018)

27 April: The Council of Europe accuses Hungary of mistreating unaccompanied migrants aged 14-18 at its border with Serbia, with scores of children, from countries including Afghanistan and Syria, confined in container camps, surrounded by barbed wire and overseen by armed guards, in violation of human rights and anti-trafficking Conventions. (Deutche Welle, 27 April 2018)

28 April: The Home Office loses its attempt to deport Andrew Van Horn, 47, a Jamaican man detained with Carlington Spencer, who died at Morton Hall in October 2017, when a High Court judge rules that Van Horn should be allowed to remain in the UK as he may be required to give evidence at the inquest. (Guardian, 28 April 2018)

28 April: A Greek court in Chios finds thirty-two of the ‘Moria 35’ guilty of injury to public officials, following clashes with police during a protest at the Moria camp in Lesbos in July 2017. (Legal Centre Lesbos, 28 April 2018)

29 April: The Guardian reveals a private letter to the prime minister, dated January 2017, in which Rudd sets out her ‘ambitious but deliverable’ plan to increase forced removals by ten per cent. Amber Rudd resigns after ‘inadvertently misleading parliament’ in wrongly claiming that the Home Office had no targets for numbers of enforced removals. (Guardian, 29, 30 April 2018)

30 April: In the wake of Amber Rudd’s resignation, Theresa May defends her ‘hostile environment’ policies, now renamed ‘compliant environment’, which she says respond to a need to tackle illegal immigration. (Guardian, 30 April 2018)

1 May: New home secretary Sajid Javid is asked to look at the removal of up to 4,000 students wrongly accused of cheating on English language tests since 2014, a tenth of the 40,000 whose student visas were revoked after voice recognition tests. Some of those wrongly removed were in their last term of study and were unable to sit degree exams. (Guardian, 1 May 2018)

2 May: As a report reveals that women with insecure immigration status or reliant on a spousal visa are forced to stay with violent partners for fear of deportation, a coalition of women’s groups call for specific protection for migrant women to be included in the government’s proposed Domestic Violence Bill. The deadline for consultation on the proposals is 31 May; respond here. (Guardian, 2 May 2018)

2 May: Women detained at Yarl’s Wood start a new hunger strike to express their anger at being victims of arbitrary removal targets, indefinite detention including detention of vulnerable people and violations of other human rights. (Detained Voices, 2 May 2018)

2 May: The Public Accounts Committee finds that there is no way of knowing whether the government’s policy on modern slavery has been successful, as there is no data nor the necessary systems to assess the impact of the policies. Download the report here. (Guardian, 2 May 2018)

Policing and criminal justice

18 April: Two police officers involved in the death of Adrian McDonald, 34, who died after being tasered and bitten by a police dog in the back of a police van in Stoke-on-Trent in December 2012, win an appeal against a misconduct ruling. (Huddersfield Examiner, 18 April 2018)

18 April: Legal professionals hold a vigil outside the Ministry of Justice to protest the crisis in the criminal justice system. (LAG, 19 April 2018)

19 April: The family of Yassar Yacub, who was shot dead by police in January 2017 on the M62, plan to hold a vigil on what would have been his 30th birthday on 18 May. An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into his death will not be published until criminal trials connected to the death have been completed. (Huddersfield Examiner, 19 April 2018)

23 April: Campaigners call for changes to a new data protection bill which will allow organisations such as the Home Office to exempt data from release. (Guardian, 23 April 2018)

23 April: The twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence is marked by a memorial service, and the prime minister announces an annual Stephen Lawrence Day. (Guardian, 23 April 2018)

24 April: Bristol police are criticised after they arrest Afzal Shah, a Labour councillor and member of the regional police and crime panel, who went to his local police station to report a crime. Police say they were searching for a suspect who ‘looked like him’. (Guardian, 24 April 2018)

25 April: The Guardian reports on two brothers who have complained of racial profiling to the IOPC after they were stopped and searched when they fist-bumped in Deptford. (Guardian, 25 April 2018)

27 April: Ken Hinds, a leading police adviser on stop and search, accuses the police of malicious prosecution when he is charged with assaulting a police officer after questioning the searching of a young black man in north London. (Guardian, 27 April 2018)

27 April: Lynette Wallace, who won damages from Nottinghamshire police after being held in a cell for eleven hours handcuffed and stripped to the waist when she was 30 weeks pregnant in 2011, criticises the IOPC’s apology to two of the police officers involved for the ‘unacceptable’ handling of their disciplinary case, which was dropped in May 2017 because of delays. (BBC News, 27 April 2018)

27 April: UN human rights experts raise concerns about the disproportionate number of black deaths in custody as a result of excessive force, which ‘reinforce the experience of structural racism’. (Independent, 27 April 2018)

29 April: The family of Sheku Bayoh, who died after being restrained by Kirkcaldy police in May 2015, launch a civil action against Police Scotland for unlawful killing. (Daily Record, 29 April 2018)

The family of Sheku Bayoh

2 May: INQUEST publishes, Still Dying on the Inside: examining deaths in women’s prisons, download the report here.

Anti fascism and the far Right

23 April: The trial of sixty-nine Golden Dawn members hears evidence revealing extensive ties and coordination between the far-right party and the Greek Hellenic Police, including counter-terrorism and riot control units. (Al Jazeera, 24 April 2018)

26 April: Five men appear at Birmingham crown court and deny charges of inciting racial hatred for allegedly putting up racist stickers of the banned National Action around Aston University in July 2016, when they are said to have posed for a photo making Nazi salutes. (BBC News, 26 April 2018)

28 April: Around forty people take part in a ‘Gays Against Sharia’ march in the Temple Meads area of Bristol. (Bristol Post, 28 April 2018)

Education 

24 April: Two Sheffield universities are investigating four allegations of racism, including an allegation that a banana was thrown at a black student watching an ice hockey match and three incidents which took place in Sheffield Hallam University’s library. (Guardian, 24 April 2018)

24 April: Ucas, the clearing house for university applications, begins an inquiry after Freedom of Information requests reveal that its process for investigating fraud is far more likely to demand proof of claims from black applicants than white ones. (Guardian, 24 April 2018)

27 April: A Sheffield University student is ordered to carry out ten hours of voluntary work and write two letters of apology for throwing a banana at a black student watching an ice hockey game. The university finds that there was no racist intention behind the incident. (The Tab, 27 April 2018)

1 May: Exeter University expels and suspends a number of students following an investigation into racially offensive messages posted by members of the university’s Bracton Law Society. (Guardian, 2 May 2018)

Discrimination

27 April: The High Court orders north London coroner Mary Hassell to change her policy on funerals, after she refused to fast-track inquests for those needing speedy burial to comply with religious beliefs, in a ‘first come first served’ policy which disproportionately affected Jewish and Muslim families. (BBC News, 27 April 2018)

Health

27 April: NHS Employers say that since December 2017, 400 visas for doctors have been refused, despite a staffing crisis in hospitals, because the government refuses to waive the Home Office cap on the entry of skilled migrants. (Guardian, 27 April 2018)

1 May: The Department of Health and Social Care publishes, Independent review of the Mental Health Act: interim report, download it here.

Housing

19 April: Campaigners claim that Freedom of Information requests made of Haringey Council reveal a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on racism and housing; the revelations come after the council was forced to drop a £2 billion regeneration scheme which, they allege, failed to cater for BAME households in the area. (24Housing, 19 April 2018)

25 April: After the owner of North Ferriby United FC condemns as racist the local parish council’s planting of concrete bollards at the entrance to the ground to block access to Travellers, who he had suggested could use the site on non-match days, the council removes the bollards but installs lockable gates. (Hull Daily Mail, 25 April 2018)

Media and culture

16 April: Far-right Freedom party politician Norbert Steger, who sits on the oversight board of Austria’s public broadcaster (ORF), calls for the dismissal of one-third of its foreign correspondents on the grounds of ‘biased’ coverage of the Hungarian general election. (Deutsche Welle, 16 April 2018)

18 April: Moazzam Begg, who was detained at Guantanamo for three years, is invited to take part in the TV show Celebrity Big Brother and declines. (Asian Image, 19 April 2018)

18 April: New research finds that women, working-class and BAME workers are significantly underrepresented across the cultural and creative sector. (A-N The Artists Information Co, 18 April 2018)

24 April: Appearing before a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into ‘Hate crime and its violent consequences’, Gary Jones, the new editor of the Daily Express, says that front pages in the paper have been ‘downright offensive’ and contributed to an ‘Islamophobic sentiment’ in the media. (Guardian, 25 April 2018)

25 April: The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) upholds a complaint against the Times over its coverage of the placing of a young girl with Muslim foster parents in Tower Hamlets, ruling that the paper distorted the issue. Read the ruling here. (Guardian, 25 April 2018)

1 May: Father Ted writer Graham Linehan is critical of Mark Meechan, who was recently convicted for publishing a video of a dog making Nazi salutes, and has complained to gofundme.com about Meechan’s appeal to raise £100,000 to pay for his High Court appeal against his conviction. (Evening Times, 1 May 2018)

Sport

20 April: Cambridge man Paul Tobin, 53, a Chelsea supporter, is given a three-year football banning order after racially abusing a steward at a match against Leicester City in March. (Leicester Mercury, 26 April 2018)

28 April: Brighton FC asks police to investigate whether monkey chants were directed at its player Gaetan Bong during a match against Burnley. (BBC News, 1 May 2018)

Electoral politics

20 April: Darren Harrison, a Conservative candidate in Watford, is suspended and under investigation after allegations that he supports Generation Identity and is linked to Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the ex-leader of the EDL. (Guardian, 20 April 2018)

25 April: Michelle Brown, a Ukip assembly member in Wales, is facing suspension for calling Chuka Umunna MP a ‘f***ing coconut’ in a telephone conversation in May 2016, after the Senedd’s standards committee ruled she had made a ‘severe breach’ of members’ code of conduct. (Daily Post, 25 April 2018)

25 April: Conservative councillor Peter Lucey, the mayor of Wokingham, resigns following an investigation into his social media posts which linked to far-right and Islamophobic websites. (Wokingham Paper, 25 April 2018)

26 April: A prospective Conservative candidate in Cambridge, George Stoakley, 23, is suspended after offensive tweets emerge. (BBC News, 26 April 2018)

27 April: Police appeal for information after Ukip placards in Oakwood are damaged and stolen. In the latest of three attacks, the placards are cut up and placed on a lawn spelling out the word ‘racist’. (Derby Telegraph, 27 April 2018)

30 April: Karen Sunderland, a Conservative candidate in Crofton Park, is suspended for posting offensive tweets, including one which compared Islam to Nazism. (This is Local London, 30 April 2018)

1 May: Ukip leader Gerard Batten announces his intention to move Ukip further to the Right, and claims that ‘the ideology of Islam is inherently anti-Semitic’. (Guardian, 1 May 2018)

1 May: West Midlands Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge hosts Beatrix von Storch, the deputy leader of Germany’s far-right Alternatif fur Deutschland, at a meeting in Sedgley. (Halesowen News, 30 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on people

17 April: A 31-year-old man is racially abused, has a slingshot aimed at him and is chased by two white men who took exception when his car broke down and held them up in Maidenhead. (Maidenhead Advertiser, 22 April 2018)

19 April: British Transport Police appeal for information after a Blackburn train station worker was racially abused and punched several times. (Lancashire Telegraph, 19 April 2018)

24 April: Avon and Somerset Police appeal for information on two men who racially abused and punched a man unconscious when he intervened in an argument in Clevedon. (Somerset Live, 24 April 2018)

1 May: Cleveland Police appeal for information after a black man in his 40s suffers facial injuries after being racially abused and attacked by a man and woman at a shopping centre in Hemlington, Middlesbrough. (Gazette Live, 1 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on property

21 April: Empty properties in the Donegal Pass area of south Belfast are daubed with graffiti which reads ‘locals only’. (Irish News, 21 April 2018)

24 April: Racist graffiti with the letters ‘KKK’ appears on a door in the Ravenhill area of south Belfast. (Belfast Telegraph, 24 April 2018)

26 April: Racist graffiti reading ‘refugees out’ is daubed on a house in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Belfast Live, 26 April 2018)

1 May: Racist graffiti is daubed on the entrance of two parks and a local property in Small Heath, Birmingham. (Birmingham Mail, 1 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on religious institutions

28 April: Bacon is left on the door and doorstep of Dunfermline Central Mosque in Scotland. (The Courier, 1 May 2018)

Violence and harassment: abuse

20 April: Stonemason Gordon Newton, 70, is abused as he makes repairs on the memorial for Stephen Lawrence at the spot where he died in Eltham. (Kent Online, 23 April 2018)

21 April: Racist language is used at a protest against a new mosque, which is later granted planning permission, in Tilehurst, Reading. (Reading Chronicle, 23 April 2018)

26 April: The Independent reports on Vie Lusandu and her 11-year-old son, who were racially abused on a train from Leeds to Bingley by a group of four white men, one of whom grabbed Lusandu’s head. She is critical of bystanders who failed to step in and of police for failing to take statements. (Independent, 26 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: charges

25 April: Joe Tivnan, 18, and Lauren Leigh, 18, appear at Nottingham magistrates’ court charged with racially or religiously aggravated harassment in connection with a widely-circulated video of a Nottingham Trent University student being racially abused in her student halls of residence. (Nottingham Post, 25 April 2018)

30 April: Christopher Jones, 49, is charged with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and racially aggravated public disorder for allegedly threatening two boys, aged 10 and 16, as they played cricket at their Stockton home. (Gazette Live, 30 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: convictions

17 April: Chelsea Russell, 19, from Croxteth, is found guilty of sending an offensive message after posting rap lyrics by Snap Dogg on her Instagram page to pay tribute to the death of a teenage friend. She is sentenced to an eight-week curfew and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge. (Liverpool Echo, 17 April 2018)

19 April: Lee Machin, 42, admits racially aggravated behaviour towards two brothers at the Foulis takeaway in Tweedmouth. He is ordered to pay a fine, costs and compensation. (Berwick Advertiser, 20 April 2018)

20 April: Nicole Ransome, 54, admits using racially aggravated threatening or abusive words or behaviour after telling a Turkish man in Bristol to ‘F**k off to where you came from – go back to your own country. We are sick of people like you’. She is given a twelve month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge. (Gloucestershire Live, 20 April 2018)

20 April: Justin Higgins, 41, pleads guilty to racially aggravated intentional harassment of a Tewkesbury dentist who refused to remove a tooth while Higgins was drunk. He is ordered to a pay a £120 fine, compensation and costs. (Gloucestershire Live, 20 April 2018)

20 April: Mark Meechan, 30, is fined £800 for posting a video of a dog giving Nazi salutes, which was found to be ‘grossly offensive’, ‘anti-Semitic and racist in nature’ and aggravated by religious prejudice. (Guardian, 23 April 2018)

23 April: Chelsea Wany, 26, is jailed for sixteen weeks after being found guilty of racially aggravated public disorder for racially abusing a man in Huddersfield town centre. (Huddersfield Examiner, 23 April 2018)

25 April: Guy Bentley, 48, is sentenced to a twelve month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £860 compensation, after pleading guilty to racially-aggravated common assault and criminal damage for racially abusing a taxi driver and throwing stones at his car. (This is Wiltshire, 26 April 2018)

26 April: Kiran McInally, 24, is jailed for nineteen months and given a six-month supervised release order for racially abusing and attacking three Clydebank shop workers with a shovel. (Clydebank Post, 26 April 2018)

26 April: Carlisle man John Heffernan, 34, pleads guilty to racial and religious aggravated assault and is sentenced to seven weeks in prison and ordered to pay £700 compensation, for attacking a man on a train between Oxenholme and Lancaster and racially abusing two women as he was arrested. (British Transport Police, 26 April 2018)

26 April: Michael Corbett, 19, admits racially aggravated assault and assault and is sentenced to ten weeks in a young offenders institution for racially abusing and spitting at the manager of a Poundland store in Canterbury. (Kent Live, 26 April 2018)

27 April: Kevin Brophy, 52, pleads guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence after racially abusing an ex-footballer on a Liverpool bus, in an attack that was filmed and widely shared online. He is given an eight-week sentence suspended for twelve months, a twenty day rehabilitation order, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge, compensation and costs. (Liverpool Echo, 27 April 2018)

30 April: Jason Wakefield-Jones, 50, pleads guilty to displaying a golliwog in a noose with intent to cause racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. He is ordered to pay a victim surcharge, costs and fines. (Daily Post, 30 April 2018)

1 May: Kellie Cooke, 33, pleads guilty to racially aggravated assault and a racially aggravated public order offence, for knocking out a 34-year-old mother of four in a McDonald’s in Kensington, Liverpool. Cooke mocked her victim’s accent, told her ‘go back to your own country, you shouldn’t wear that scarf in this country’ and attempted to rip off her headscarf. (Liverpool Echo, 1 May 2018)

Miscellaneous

20 April: George Soros’ Open Society Foundations reveals that it will close or drastically reduce operations in Budapest and relocate to Berlin, in advance of the government’s planned new law targeting NGOs that receive foreign funding. (Guardian, 20 April 2018)

Recruitment

The Autograph gallery is looking for a full-time Archive Manager to catalogue and care for a unique photographic collection. View details here. The deadline for applications is 4 May 2018 by 5pm.

Remember David Oluwale and Stephen Lawrence

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 07:50

Tomorrow, on 4 May, it will be forty-nine years since the body of David Oluwale was pulled from the River Aire, Leeds in 1969. And nearly two weeks ago, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 was marked.

Both deaths were watershed moments  and synonymous with racism in different ways.

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence was recently marked in many ways, and rightly so — the murder and its subsequent impact on British race relations is immeasurable. But it took Stephen’s family years of fighting long and hard, with their supporters and lawyers, to challenge the state to act. As a result, just two of Stephen’s racist killers were convicted in 2012 – after the law on double jeopardy was changed.

The death of David Oluwale, on the other hand, has overwhelmingly slipped from memory. He didn’t really have anyone to fight his corner and to remember him.[1] David from Nigeria arrived in the UK in Hull in September 1949 and died twenty years later after living on the streets of Leeds. He was hounded[2] to his death by two police officers (Inspector Geoff Ellerker and Sergeant Ken Kitching). His death is significant as two police officers were later prosecuted and convicted for involvement in his death and the campaign of harassment that they carried out against him.[2] These convictions are historic as it was the first and last time that police officers have been successfully prosecuted for involvement in a black death. That’s nearly fifty years ago! For families of those who die at the hands of the police, rather than racists, there is a long way to go to ensure justice.

Related links

Read an IRR review of The Hounding of David Oluwale

Read an IRR review of the play on David Oluwale

United Families and Friends Campaign

United Families and Friends Campaign on Facebook

New book on the No Colour Bar exhibition

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 03:50

A new book on the 2016 No Colour Bar exhibition is now available.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990, documents how the exhibition came to fruition and all those involved. The book reproduces images of the art featured at the exhibition by seminal black artists alongside archive material — leaflets, journal and book covers, flyers and historical pictures — all in a beautifully produced and tactile book.

The exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery, which included works by artists such as Sonia Boyce, Fowokan, Lubaina Himid and Aubrey Williams (to name just a few) – was a revelation – so many great artists and works in one space.

The exhibition and book owe much to the work of Erica and Jessica Huntley who founded Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, ran the Walter Rodney Bookshop and were involved in some of the most important political moments in the struggles against racism over the last fifty years. The exhibition is based in large part on their personal archives which are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

The book is not just about art — it tells a political story of struggles against racism waged by activist artists. No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 is a weighty tome that would look good on any coffee table and possesses both style and content.

Related links

No Colour Bar

No Colour Bar on Twitter

Paris: still on the streets

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 03:49

The abject failure of French President Macron to carry out his promise to get refugees ‘off the streets, out of the woods’ by the end of 2017 is highlighted in the latest report by Refugee Rights Europe (RRE). 

Still on the Streets: Documenting the situation for refugees and displaced people in Paris, France, presents statistical analysis from 283 interviews looking into such things as: how long the respondents have been on the streets in France, whether they have enough food to eat each day and where in Europe they have family.

RRE uses the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as a framework to highlight how states are failing refugees and displaced people. It documents the situation across Europe and has been researching and reporting on the condition of refugees and displaced people since February 2016. Over the last two years it has produced sixteen reports based on interview studies and surveys.

Although it takes a Europe-wide approach, it reports on the individual situation on the ground in each country. It has published reports on the situation for refugees in Calais (both while the ‘Jungle’ camp operated and since its destruction in October 2016), Dunkirk, the hot spots in Italy and Greece (both the islands and the mainland), as well as the situation of asylum seekers in London and Berlin.

RRE conducts research through a methodology of random selection and continuous monitoring of the demographic breakdown to ensure that the final data is representative. The surveys are conducted wherever possible in the respondents’ native language, with research conducting the semi-structured interviews in English, Amharic, Arabic, Pashto, Persian and Tigrinya.

This latest report looks at the conditions and status of those who are currently living on the streets of Paris, following on from the pilot published in January 2017. It highlights that despite President Macron’s promise, there are still many people abandoned on the streets. The statistics produced are invaluable in creating a detailed understanding of the experiences of refugees and displaced people, not only at the current moment, but also over the last two years. Many of the same questions have been asked since 2016 such as; country of origin, experience of police violence and the numbers of minors, which reveals how the make-up of the displaced community has changed and shows the speed with which claims are being processed.

The facts revealed by the reports never cease – from the length of time that people have been in Europe awaiting decisions or trying to move on, to the levels of police violence. Of the 283 respondents in this report, 63.3 per cent have been in Europe for over six months and 18.2 per cent between two and five years. Most shocking though, in terms of the actions of the French state, is that over 100 people are still on the streets despite having claimed asylum in France (35.7 per cent). The statistics powerfully show the systemic nature of police violence and the failure of the French state to uphold even the most basic humanitarian needs, such as food and clothing.

Related links

Refugee Rights Europe

Download the report here

Exhibition of art by foreign national prisoners

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 07:44

An exhibition of striking artwork by refugees and migrants held in prison for deportation.

  • Friday 4 May 2018
  • The Fishslab Gallery, 11 Oxford Street, Whitstable CT5 1DB
Related links

Facebook event listing

Calendar of racism and resistance (6 – 19 April 2018)

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:32

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Asylum and migration

5 April: Elder Rahimi solicitors publish: Systemic Delays in the Processing of the Claims for Asylum Made in the UK by Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), download it here.

5 April: Asylum charities in Liverpool raise concerns about the detention and planned deportation of the Mukerjee family, whose 23-year-old son Charles has learning difficulties and severe epilepsy. (Liverpool Echo, 5 April 2018)

5 April: Open Democracy reports on asylum-seeking mothers and children housed for months in B&B accommodation in Sheffield, alongside vulnerable single men. (Open Democracy, 5 April 2018)

8 April: Asylum rights groups raise concerns over new rules that have come into force with the Immigration Act 2016, which stop young asylum seekers from studying. (Observer, 8 April 2018)

9 April: A new report examining the ‘hostile environment’ is published, with contributions from nine campaigning organisations, including the National Union of Students, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Doctors of the World. Download A Guide to the Hostile Environment: The Border Controls Dividing Our Communities — and how we can Bring Them Down, here.

9 April: The German interior ministry says it ‘emphatically supports’ a proposal put forward by the Central Council of Jews, that when it comes to tackling anti-Semitism, migrants who offend Germany’s democratic values should be expelled. The far-Right Alternative for Germany also backs the proposal. (Deutsche Welle, 9 April 2018)

9 April: The Guardian reports on Michael Braithwaite, who lost his job as a special needs assistant as he did not have the necessary identity papers, despite having lived in the UK for over fifty-six years. (Guardian, 9 April 2018)

10 April: The Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre for reporting year January to December 2017 is published, download it here.

11 April: The Guardian reports on the death of Nancy Motsamai on 12 March, five days after an attempted deportation to South Africa during which she collapsed and was accused of faking illness. The Home Office apologises for its handling of aspects of the case after her funeral was delayed because the Home Office failed to release her passport in time. (Guardian, 11, 12 April 2018)

12 April: Research by the University of Glasgow finds that two-thirds of Syrians, aged 18 to 32, who arrived in the UK through the Syrian resettlement programme are either in employment or studying. (Independent, 12 April 2018)

12 April: An investigation by a Swedish TV company and the Guardian concludes that Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre, a refugee from Eritrea who is currently in prison is Sicily awaiting trial for human smuggling, is the victim of a grave miscarriage of justice. The real smuggler lives freely in Uganda, but the Italian prosecutor’s office refuses to admit its mistake. (Guardian, 12 April 2018)

12 April: Seven Italian charities accuse the French border police of falsifying the birth dates of migrant children travelling alone, in order to send them back to Italy. (Guardian, 12 April 2018)

12 April: A meeting of the high commissioners of all Caribbean Commonwealth nations condemns the Home Office’s treatment of long-resident Commonwealth citizens in the UK. (Guardian, 12 April 2018)

16 April: Search and rescue NGO Proactiva’s ship Open Arms, which has rescued over 5,000 people from the central Mediterranean over three years and was impounded in Sicily for over a month when it docked with 218 migrants on board, is released, but two crew members remain under investigation for people smuggling. (Guardian, 16 April 2018)

16 April: Prime minister Theresa May is forced into a U-turn over her refusal to meet Caribbean heads of state to discuss the treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’ of Commonwealth citizens, and home secretary Amber Rudd apologises and promises a 20-strong team to resolve their cases at no cost, after huge public and media outcry. (Guardian, 16 April 2018)

17 April: Theresa May apologises to Caribbean heads of state over the treatment of long-resident Commonwealth citizens and promises no one will be deported. (Guardian, 17 April 2018)

Policing and criminal justice

28 March: The Court of Appeal rules that defendants in a criminal trial who claim to be victims of modern slavery or trafficking who were compelled to act cannot be convicted unless the prosecution can disprove it. (Free Movement, 9 April 2018)

6 April: At a pre-inquest hearing, the family of Leroy Junior Medford say that they would ‘like to get to the truth’ behind his death at Loddon Valley police station in Reading, in April 2017. (BBC News, 6 April 2018)

Leroy Medford

7 April: Detective Sergeant Stephen Redgewell, 52, is suspended for allegedly sending racist and sexist texts to a female trainee police officer who later medically retired from the force. (Mirror, 7 April 2018)

9 April: The Home Office publishes its Serious Violence Strategy, download it here.

9 April: A video filmed by students showing French CRS officers dragging a pregnant migrant woman out of a train in Menton, on the border with Italy, goes viral on social media. The prefecture of Alpes-Maritime says the violence was the fault of ‘the abnormal behaviour of those who were stopped’. (InfoMigrants, 9 April 2018)

11 April: Ahead of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, the Met police announce that they have no new leads in the case but are reviewing the case with a view to closing the murder inquiry.. (Guardian, 11 April 2018)

13 April: PC Andrew Birks, who was involved in the death of Sean Rigg in police custody in 2008, wins an appeal at the High Court against a refusal to let him resign and pursue a career in the Anglican church. (Premier Christian Radio, 13 April 2018)

Sean Rigg

13 April: The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directs the Met to begin misconduct hearings against five police officers involved in the death of Sean Rigg at Brixton police station in July 2008. (Guardian, 13 April 2018)

15 April: The Guardian reveals that the National Crime Agency is considering starting a new criminal investigation into the Stephen Lawrence murder, with four police detectives facing investigation for misconduct in public office. (Guardian, 15 April 2018)

17 April: The undercover police officer who spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, in the aftermath of his racist murder in 1993, is identified by the Undercover Policing Inquiry as David Hagan. (Guardian, 17 April 2018)

Anti fascism and the far Right

5 April: The army orders an inquiry after the Irish Sun reveals that 23-year-old Graham Bolger has returned to the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards in west London, despite being convicted for online hate comments in which he declared himself a neo-Nazi, praised the Holocaust and wrote ‘If I was to kill all Muslims I wouldn’t leave the child, I’d kill that too’. (Irish Sun, 5 April 2018)

6 April: Forty German town mayors sign a joint declaration against the neo-Nazi Shield and Sword Festival, set to take place in the Saxon town of Ostritz on 20 April to mark Hitler’s birthday. (DPA, 6 April 2018)

6 April: A man is arrested at Leeds crown court on suspicion of racially aggravated assault after EDL supporters allegedly enter a court in protest. (Leeds Live, 6 April 2018)

6 April: The Polish Educational Society seeks explanations from two UK Polish language schools which allegedly have far-right links, and warns other schools to be vigilant of far-right activity. (Guardian, 6 April 2018)

8 April: In the German states of Brandenburg and Thüringia, police raid the homes of eight members of Citizens of the Reich suspected of founding a far-right terrorist organisation. (Reuters, 8 April 2018)

9 April: Matthew Hankinson, 23, appears with five others at the Old Bailey charged with membership of National Action, the banned far-right organisation. (St Helen’s Star, 9 April 2018)

11 April: A report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism highlights a strengthening of the extreme right in Europe accompanied by slogans and symbols reminiscent of the 1930s, although violent antisemitic incidents decreased. (Guardian, 11 April 2018)

12 April: Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, is cleared of possession of a document for use in terrorism (Anders Breivik’s manifesto) and two counts of stirring up racial hatred in posts on a racist site. He earlier pleaded guilty to possession of a CS gas canister. (Guardian, 12 April 2018)

14 April: Martin Sellner, 29, from Austria, and Abel Bodi from Hungary are denied entry to the UK, after flying in to Stansted airport to attend a Generation Identity (GI) conference. (Guardian, 14 April 2018)

14 April: A Generation Identity (GI) conference in London is forced to move to Sevenoaks, where it is disrupted and forced to end early after the venue cancels the booking. (Anti Fascist Network, 16 April 2018; Kent Live, 15 April 2018)

15 April: The Daily Star Sunday reveals that convicted Britain First leader Jayda Fransen has been forced to take part in a Prevent programme to tackle radicalisation. (Daily Star, 15 April 2018)

Education

9 April: Schools Week reveals that the Department for Education has decided to stop its collection of data on pupils’ nationality and country of birth, a policy which was subject to a legal challenge and a nation-wide campaign by Against Borders for Children (ABC). (Schools Week, 9 April 2018)

12 April: The University of Southampton begins an investigation after computer science students post racist comments, which are later removed, on a shared spreadsheet. (The Tab, 12 April 2018)

Employment and labour exploitation

10 April: A new study reveals that migrant construction workers in London are exploited and face abuse and discrimination. Download a copy of the report by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX): Shaky Foundations: Labour Exploitation in London’s Construction Sector, here

14 April: Migrant cleaners at Tate Modern storm the gallery’s Picasso exhibition in protest at the exhibition’s main sponsor, Ernst & Young, which subcontracts the cleaning contract to ISS and is currently negotiating to cut staff numbers. (Evening Standard, 15 April 2018)

Housing

8 April: Housing groups condemn the Home Office for dismissing their demand for a consultative panel to oversee allegations that landlords have refused to rent to people for discriminatory reasons, and for a wider evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme. (24 Housing, 9 April 2018)

13 April: Human rights groups criticise a government review of police and local authority powers to evict Gypsies and Travellers from unauthorised sites, saying that questions guiding the consultation ‘would reinforce anti-Gypsyism’ and that the shortage of legal sites is the real problem that needs addressing. (Guardian, 13 April 2018)

13 April: Housing minister Dominic Raab is forced to defend comments that immigration had increased house prices, after being challenged by the UK Statistics Authority to publish evidence which reveals that his analysis was based on an out-of-date model. (Guardian, 13 April 2018)

Media and culture

8 April: Daily Mail theatre critic Quentin Letts is criticised by the Royal Shakespeare Company for writing a review of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich with a ‘blatantly racist attitude’. (Guardian, 8 April 2018)

9 April: After police reveal that the van driver who killed two people in Münster is a German man with psychological problems, the Central Council of Muslims issue a statement criticising media double standards, asking why German perpetrators are described as ‘psychologically disturbed’, while Muslim ones are ‘Islamist’ terrorists. (The Local, 9 April 2018)

10 April: One of the last Hungarian newspapers critical of Viktor Orbán announces its closure as the prime minister accuses critical media, along with NGOs, of being part of a ‘Soros plot’ to send millions of migrants to Hungary. (Guardian, 10 April 2018)

12 April: The decision by the BBC to re-enact Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech on BBC radio’s Archive on 4 programme is widely criticised, and Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis writes a letter of complaint to Ofcom calling for the programme to be withdrawn. (Guardian, 12 April 2018)

13 April: The Hungarian weekly publication Figyelo publishes the names of 200 people it claims are connected to a plan by George Soros to topple the government. This follows prime minister Viktor Orban’s claim that a ‘Soros mercenary army’ plans to ‘transform Hungary into an immigrant country’. (novinite.com, 13 April 2018)

17 April: German musicians protest the BMVI Music Group and return their prizes after a rap duo accused of using antisemitic lyrics is awarded an Echo, the German music industry’s most important prize which is based on record sales. In the lyrics, Kollegah and Farid Bang compared their toned muscles to those of an Auschwitz survivor. (Deutsche Welle, 17 April 2018)

17 April: Former ‘Smiths’ frontman Morrissey attacks halal meat and professes his support for Anne Marie Waters and her new far-right party For Britain, in an interview published on his website. (Guardian, 17 April 2018)

Sport

10 April: Gillingham FC issues a statement in relation to its legal dealings with ex-player Mark McCammon, who was found to have suffered race victimisation by dismissal, unfair dismissal and unauthorised deduction from wages. (Kent Online, 10 April 2018)

14 April: Spalding United player Ker Miller alleges that he was racially abused during a match by a Bedworth United fan, who is later ejected from the ground. (Spalding Today, 16 April 2018)

Electoral politics

5 April: It is announced that Calderdale councillor Mike Payen will face no further action for sharing an article calling Muslims ‘parasites’, as he was not a councillor at the time, so the code of conduct did not apply. (BBC News, 5 April 2018)

8 April: The ruling anti-migrant Fidesz party wins the Hungarian general elections, with 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament, and the far-right Jobbik party wins twenty-six seats. OSCE election observers criticise the use of public funds for so-called ‘government information campaigns’ (including a poster modelled on UKIP’s controversial ‘breaking point’ billboard), and condemn the intimidating and xenophobic election atmosphere. (Guardian, 8, 9 April 2018)

8 April: On International Roma Day, Pope Francis calls for ‘greater understanding of Roma culture’, while Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League that heads the polls in Italy, tweets that Roma should ‘work more and steal less’, and that the day might be worth celebrating if Roma ‘sent their children to school instead of teaching them to steal’. (Il Globo, 9 April 2018)

9 April: Alternative for Germany (AfD) deputy leader Beatrix von Storch faces calls for her resignation after sending out a tweet that blamed an incident in Münster, in which a German man drove a van into a crowded cafe, killing two people and injuring dozens, on Angela Merkel’s refugee policy. (The Local, 9 April 2018)

12 April: Philip Winter, a Bristol Ukip councillor of Almondsbury Parish Council, claims that violent crime in London is caused by mentally challenged BAME communities. (Bristol Post, 12 April 2018)

12 April: Northern Ireland Independent councillor Jolene Bunting is criticised for appearing to defend racist leaflets that were recently distributed in Belfast. (Newsletter, 12 April 2018)

16 April: Neil Hamilton, the leader of Ukip in Wales, defends Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, saying it has been ‘proved right by events’. (BBC News, 16 April 2018)

17 April: Liberal Democrat council candidate Lynn Appleby, who was due to stand in the Sandhill ward, Sunderland, is suspended and under investigation following posts on her Facebook emerge, including her sharing an article written by the far-right group ‘Infidels of Britain’. (Chronicle Live, 17 April 2018)

17 April: MPs describe death threats, abuse and harassment in an unprecedented House of Commons debate on antisemitism, called by the government. Communities secretary Sajid Javid accuses Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of ‘lacking moral clarity’ on the issue. (Guardian, 17 April 2018) 

Violence and harassment: attacks on people 

5 April: A woman on a bus in Stockport is racially abused by a gang of teenagers who throw alcohol over her, and break the nose of a man who intervenes. (Manchester Evening News, 9 April 2018)

5 April: A man at Newcastle-under-Lyme bus station racially abuses a group of five female students, spits at them and tries to take a woman’s hijab off. (Stoke Sentinel, 9 April 2018)

5 April: A 32-year-old man who intervened in an argument on a street in Clevedon, north Somerset, is racially abused and knocked unconscious by two men with West Country accents. (Somerset Live, 9 April 2018)

6 April: One man suffers head injuries and another has part of his finger severed in a fight in a Huntingdon pub over alleged racial abuse. (Peterborough Today, 10 April 2018)

7 April: Police appeal for information after a man in his 30s is racially abused, punched in the face and hit with a wooden stick by two teenagers in Norwich. (Evening News, 16 April 2018)

11 April: A man in his 30s pushes a 4-year-old child to the ground and racially abuses the child’s mum in Lincoln. (Lincolnshire Live, 16 April 2018)

11 April: Police appeal for information after two men break into the Dovercourt home of a black man and attack him, leaving the victim with cuts and bruising. (Braintree & Witham Times, 11 April 2018)

13 April: Police release pictures of two men after a 42-year-old taxi driver is racially abused and assaulted several times when driving between Southampton Central railway station and Shirley. (Daily Echo, 13 April 2018)

15 April: A Polish man is hospitalised after he and three friends are attacked in Orchard Park, Hull by a gang of twenty men armed with a plank of wood studded with nails. (Hull Daily Mail, 16 April 2018)

18 April: An Arabic-speaking man attacks an Israeli man in Berlin with a belt, while shouting ‘Jew’. The attack is caught on video and published by the Jewish Forum for Democracy. (The Local, 18 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: attacks on property

4 April: Police appeal for information after racist graffiti is daubed on a resident’s door in Wilson Close, Dunfermline. (Courier, 11 April 2018)

8 April: Swastikas are daubed on a street in Dollis Hill, which are quickly removed, and an anti-racist vigil is held a few days later. (Wembley Matters, 8 April 2018; Kilburn Times, 10 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: abuse

6 April: British Transport Police appeal for information on a man who racially abused a woman on a train between Fenchurch Street and Shoebury, and threatened two men who intervened. (Braintree & Witham Times, 10 April 2018)

10 April: A Sheffield chicken shop worker is racially abused, spat at and told to ‘go back to your own country’ by a drunk white woman. (Mirror, 10 April 2018)

13 April: Police appeal for information on a man who racially abused a mother and her sons, aged 12 and 14, as they waited for a train at Prestatyn train station on 27 March. (Deeside.com, 13 April 2018)

13 April: A 30-year-old man is arrested in Romford after threatening Asian and black people in the town centre. (Romford Recorder, 16 April 2018)

13 April: Police release images of a white man aged between 35 to 45, after a Sikh man wearing a turban is racially abused in Nottingham city centre. (Notts TV, 16 April 2018)

17 April: Devon and Cornwall police appeal for information on an incident in January 2018 in Plymouth, during which a taxi driver was racially abused by one of three men who threatened to smash the window of his cab and failed to pay the fare. (Devon Live, 17 April 2018)

18 April: A Malmö rabbi has praised a local school for identifying two children who turned up at his synagogue and threatened to bomb it, and forcing them to go back to the synagogue and apologise. Rabbi Moshe-David HaCohen says that he accepts the teenagers’ apology and is working with the school to educate students about Judaism. (The Local, 18 April 2018).

Violence and harassment: charges

10 April: An unnamed 68-year-old man is charged with sending racist hate mail to Scottish Labour MP Anas Sarwar. (Daily Record, 10 April 2018)

16 April: Perry Booth, 59, is ordered to stand trial in September after denying charges of using racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to an estate agent in Dewsbury. (Huddersfield Examiner, 16 April 2018)

Violence and harassment: convictions

6 April: Daniel Marshall, 29, is sentenced to eight-and-a-half-years in prison for racially aggravated robbery after racially abusing and robbing a 21-year-old man outside his Sheffield flat. The victim suffered jaw fractures, a broken nose and chipped teeth. (South Yorkshire Times, 6 April 2018)

6 April: Nicky Mason, 49, is convicted of various offences including causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress and jailed for a year. He was found to have made ‘disparaging, threatening and abusive’ remarks, a Nazi salute and to have barged into a black man and a woman wearing a hijab in a shop. (Bristol Post, 6 April 2018)

12 April: Connor Ward, 25, is jailed for at least six years after being found guilty of offences under the Terrorism Act. He obtained components for bombs and kept a list of addresses of mosques in Scotland. (BBC News, 12 April 2018)

13 April: Alastair Turnbull, 38, admits racially aggravated offences and is jailed for six months, after abusing and threatening a shopkeeper and refusing to leave the shop in Douglas. (Evening Telegraph, 13 April 2018)

13 April: James Gillespie, 25, is sentenced to eighty hours unpaid work for racially abusing a friend’s mother at her home in Rosyth, Dunfermline. (Dunfermline Press, 13 April 2018)

13 April: A 15-year-old Gloucester boy has his current four-month referral order increased by another eight months for committing five more offences, one of which was racially aggravated when he called a man a ‘Polish c**t’ and threw a concrete block through the windscreen of his car. His mother is ordered to pay compensation. (Gloucestershire Live, 15 April 2018)

15 April: Simon Needs, 41, is jailed for fifty-six days and ordered to pay £100 compensation for the ‘appalling racial abuse’ of a man in Southampton, in December 2017. (Daily Echo, 15 April 2018)

Miscellaneous

15 April: A plaque is unveiled in New Cross for George Arthur Roberts, one of the first black firefighters in London, who was awarded a medal for his bravery in the Battle of the Somme. (This is Local London, 17 April 2018)

Vacancies

April: Corporate Watch, a not-for-profit co-operative which has provided investigative research on corporations and capitalism since 1996, is hiring a freelance fundraiser to work on a temporary basis, for one day a week (7.5 hours) for three months. See here for further information.

Solidarity with human rights defenders intensifies

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 07:24

On 7 May, the trial of the crew of a search and rescue NGO ship who in January 2016 were saving lives in the Mediterranean will open in Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Danish-Iraqi national, Salam Aldeen (co-founder of Team Humanity), faces prosecution, alongside three Spanish fire-fighters, Manuel Blanco, Enrique Rodríguez and Julio Latorre (all volunteers with Proem-aid). Unbelievably, these four human rights defenders face charges of human smuggling.

On 10 April, the IRR was invited to Berlin to participate in a solidarity meeting organised by ConAction with Team Humanity and Refugee Law Clinics Abroad. Keynote speaker Salam Aldeen spoke of the  life-changing experiences on Lesbos and the ordeal of his arrest. Also speaking was Mohammed, one of those waiting to be rescued that night, who conveyed the terror of waiting for an entire dark night for rescue as water slowly filled the boat.

The story of Salam Aldeen

The humanitarian aid effort in Greece, to help save those who were arriving by boat in dangerous vessels, intensified in September 2015, as the photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian-Kurdish refugee Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Bodrum, was syndicated across the world. It was this image that first pushed Salam to travel to Greece to do his part to help. Within two days of the publication of Turkish journalist Nilüfer Demir’s tragic photograph, on 5 September 2015, Salam travelled to Greece and within hours of landing, was assisting with humanitarian relief on the beach in Lesbos. What was planned as a week-long trip, led to the creation of Team Humanity Denmark and Aldeen’s permanent residence in Greece.

Frances Webber speaking at ConAction event in Berlin. (Credit: TeamHumanityDK)

During this time there was an unprecedented number of arrivals. Salam Aldeen was bringing in desperate people from as many as 27 ships in one day, but there was, at that point, no established organisation coordinating efforts. All those who were there helped how and when they could. Over time more groups began to arrive and by November there was a loose system in place including a Whatsapp group for all the organisations to communicate with each other, send coordinates for vessels in distress and receive SOS messages. In time, there were over 200 organisations in this group and the coast guard was informed of all search and rescue missions. The coast guard even worked in tandem with the humanitarian organisations on occasion.

However, on the night of 14 January 2016 the Team Humanity ship, captained by Salam Aldeen, was stopped by the Greek coast guard off the coast of Lesbos whilst attempting to locate a boat in distress. The crew were taken in for questioning and subsequently charged with human smuggling. The Greek authorities claim that, rather than conducting a legitimate search and rescue mission, Salam Aldeen and his crew were intending to travel to Turkey to collect refugees and smuggle them back to Europe.

Salam and Christian at ConAction meeting in Berlin. (Credit: Jamila Schafer @jamila_anna)

Arrest and bail conditions

All crew members were questioned in Greek without an interpreter before being released on bail. Bail was set at €5000 for each Spanish fire-fighter and €10,000 for Aldeen, as captain of the ship and, perhaps, also reflecting his Danish-Iraqi dual citizenship. While the Spanish volunteers were allowed to return to Spain, the Greek authorities imposed more stringent bail conditions on Aldeen, meaning that he was forced to spend the next 19 months of his life confined to Greece and unable to visit his family in Denmark. During this time, he continued to work with refugees, setting up a shelter in Athens for women and children. In August 2018 he was finally allowed to return to Denmark, but only after paying another €3000.

If convicted Salam Aldeen, Manuel Blanco, Enrique Rodríguez and Julio Latorre could face up to 10 years in prison. The Greek authorities are using this case of humanitarian assistance not only to punish these activists but also to send a message to all others working in the field that their actions of solidarity and empathy could land them in prison.

Related links

Donate to Salam Aldeen’s legal costs here

Team Humanity

Proem-aid

ConAction

Refugee Law Clinics Abroad

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