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News & Views Monday 5th April to Sunday 11th  April 2021


UK Needs to Build a Memorial for the People we Enslaved

In the UK, there have been calls for several years for a national monument of atonement for the victims of transatlantic slavery. The case is compelling – our nation was by far the biggest trader in slaves shipped to North America and the Caribbean. It was directly responsible for the forced and brutal migration of more than three million enslaved Africans across the north Atlantic between the 17th and 19th centuries. Half a million died on the journey. Yet this reality remains largely hidden from history. Our national story has been much less focused on contrition for our responsibility in the formation of the slave trade than on celebration of its abolition. We cannot continue to gloss over our past.

Monuments matter. That’s why the current debate about statues is important. They are material expressions of memory in the public realm. Some are potent national symbols of celebration or commemoration, such as the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square or the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall. Less common are monuments of national contrition. The Holocaust memorial in Berlin is one of the best known.

Hiding slavery behind philanthropy: Redressing this imbalance underpins the welcome initiatives by the National Trust and other cultural custodians to reveal the hidden links between our heritage and this trade. A failure to acknowledge such culpability was the backdrop to the toppling of the Bristol statue of Edward Colston. This monument celebrated his philanthropy but hid his leading role in the slave trading Royal African Company in the 1680s.

When the Black Lives Matter movement toppled the Bristol monument in June last year, it beamed a spotlight on this murky national history. Yet the subsequent debate has wandered off into disputes over the statues of little known philanthropists, who were relatively minor figures in the Royal African Company. Surprisingly, the crucial central figure in England’s early conquest of the global slave trade has escaped unnoticed.

Read more: Fred Steward, Open Democracy, https://is.gd/t79ssB

Why Sticking to the Refugee Convention Still Matters

When someone says that refugees should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, what they really mean is that other countries should look after refugees. They want others to do what they would not do themselves. Their words are really addressed to the countries through which the refugee has passed on their journey to us. France should look after the refugees and take them back from us. If not France, then Greece. If not Greece, then Turkey. If not Turkey, then Iran. And so on. Those countries should “step up” (Shaun Bailey, Conservative MP for West Bromwich West). Not us. They have “a moral duty and a responsibility” (Priti Patel, Home Secretary for the United Kingdom). Not us.

These responses very obviously ignore what other countries are already doing. In 2019 the UK received 52,000 asylum seekers in total, including refugees entering on our resettlement scheme. France received 157,000. Officially Greece received 70,000, although their asylum registration system has broken down. Turkey already hosts 4,000,000 refugees. Iran already hosts close to 1,000,000 refugees. To suggest we are already doing more than we should and these other countries should “step up” is manifestly absurd.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/MEZKRV

CoA Criticises Ambiguous Language in Immigration Tribunal Judgments

In Secretary of State for the Home Department v Starkey [2021] EWCA Civ 421 the Court of Appeal provides a helpful reminder of the need for very clear language when explaining how evidence has been examined and assessed. The immigration tribunal’s ambiguity on a crucial piece of evidence was enough to amount to an error of law in this case. The appeal concerned the decision to deport a South African man who had lived in the UK for over 30 years — almost his entire life. He had committed an extremely serious criminal offence, but also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The Article 8 issues were therefore finely balanced.

The First-tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal, but the Upper Tribunal identified an error of law in its approach to the expert evidence on mental health treatment in South Africa. The Upper Tribunal re-made the decision and allowed the appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the error of law decision, noting that the formulation used by the First-tier Tribunal on a crucial issue regarding the availability of treatment was ambiguous. The judge had said “there was no satisfactory evidence”, which might mean either that there was no evidence, or that the evidence provided was insufficient. The first option was factually incorrect, while the second option would also be an error of law because the judge provided no explanation for finding the evidence to be unsatisfactory:

But the Court of Appeal also concluded that the Upper Tribunal had itself made an error of law when remaking the decision. It had failed to accurately characterise the medical evidence about the severity of the appellant’s condition while taking the right medication:

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/yEXq5a




Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - April 2021

Deteriorated Situations: Niger, Mozambique, Senegal, Taiwan Strait, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Ukraine, Brazil, Paraguay

Outlook for April 2021: Conflict Risk Alerts none, Resolution Opportunities none

CrisisWatch highlights deteriorations in nine countries and conflict areas in March.

In Mozambique, Islamist insurgents launched a major attack on the strategic port town of Palma in the far north, leaving scores dead and triggering a mass exodus. A spate of jihadist attacks in Niger killed over 200 civilians, while authorities foiled a coup attempt ahead of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum’s inauguration on 2 April. Mass protests continued against the military coup in Myanmar as security forces ramped up their deadly crackdown on demonstrators. More than 500 civilians have been killed since 1 February. In Brazil, political tensions peaked as the rift deepened between President Jair Bolsonaro and the military, while the COVID-19 pandemic spiralled out of control. The conflict escalated in Ukraine’s east as the Donbas ceasefire faced growing strains with over twenty killed. The ceasefire along the Line of Control which divides Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir held as rhetoric cooled between the sides.

In this month’s CrisisWatch, aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly follow, we have tracked notable developments in: Bolivia, Brazil, Indonesia, Jordan, Nile Waters, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and U.S.-Russia.

Read more: https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch

New Deportation Law May Discriminate Against Ethnic Minorities

The Home Office has admitted that a new immigration rule to criminalise and deport migrant rough sleepers may discriminate against ethnic minorities, including Asian women who have survived domestic violence. An internal document outlines the department’s analysis of how the new power – which prompted widespread outrage when it came into force four months ago – would also indirectly affect at-risk groups, including people with disabilities. The eight-page equality impact assessment, obtained by Liberty Investigates, accepts the potential of the rule to indirectly discriminate on the grounds of race, since some factors leading to homelessness disproportionately affect people from particular ethnicities. “The main reason Asian women give for being homeless is because of domestic violence,” the assessment states.

Pragna Patel, director of campaigning group the Southall Black Sisters, said the document, released under freedom of information law, exposed a callous attitude to migrants made homeless by domestic abuse. Last month, the home secretary, Priti Patel, listed the government’s domestic abuse bill among a number of measures it has taken to ensure women’s safety after the killing of Sarah Everard. “In the same breath, they are saying we are going to introduce this measure around rough sleeping, knowing it will affect victims of domestic abuse,” said Pragna Patel.

Read more: Aaron Walawalkar and Mark Townsend,
Guardian, https://is.gd/DzMDqV

No Role for Parliamentary Reports in Immigration Appeals

The Upper Tribunal has rejected an attempt to put a report by an unofficial grouping of MPs into evidence in an English language testing appeal. The case is DK and RK (Parliamentary privilege; evidence) India [2021] UKUT 61 (IAC) and the official headnote reads: (1) Although the Upper Tribunal is not bound by formal rules of evidence, it cannot act in such a way as to violate Parliamentary privilege, whether that be to interfere with free speech in Parliament or by reference to the separation of powers doctrine. The Tribunal cannot interfere with or criticise proceedings of the legislature. (2) Courts and tribunals determine cases by reference to the evidence before them and not by reference to the views of others, expressed in a non-judicial setting, on evidence which is not the same as that before the court or tribunal. Indeed, even if the evidence were the same, the court or tribunal must reach its own views, applying the relevant burden and standard of proof. The issue of Parliamentary privilege was also canvassed recently by the Court of Appeal, in R (Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Rev 1) [2021] EWCA Civ 19.

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/EyMs1A

Locating Fresh Starting Points in the Immigration Debate

Emma Harrison recently argued on this site for a “campaigning in the middle ground’’ approach to advocacy. A central element of this position is that we need to be engaging with those who don’t share our agenda. It is not new to suggest that we have more in common with those we disagree with than we might imagine. What I am asking here is — so what? Where does acknowledgement of our same-ness get us? Crucially, uncovering the commonalities in our perspectives and priorities is about much more than developing mutual sympathy. It’s about locating new starting points for conversation.

For example, comparing Maya Goodfellow’s The Hostile Environment (2019) and Ed West’s The Diversity Illusion (2013) reveals much more than common complaints, but the potential for shared concerns to lead to alternative starting points for a fresh discussion. If the British immigration debate is a conflict between those for immigration versus those against it, then these two texts would represent opposing sides. By really exploring their arguments, though, it turns out that they are saying a lot of the same things. Instead of seeing the debate as “for versus against” immigration, how might it look to start at where they agree?

Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/2aFPWZ

Opinions Regarding Immigration Bail

HMCIP Inspections of Charter Flights

Self-Harm in Immigration Detention

36 Deaths Across the UK Detention Estate

UK Human Rights and Democracy 2020

Hunger Strikes in Immigration Detention

Charter Flights January 2016 Through December 2020

A History of

Immigration Solicitors

Villainous Mr O