Written by Lucie Audibert (Lawyer and Legal Officer, Privacy International) & Monish Bhatia (Lecturer in Criminology, Birkbeck, University of London)
Through its use of GPS tags and smartwatches in immigration enforcement, the UK is extending the reach of surveillance and control of migrants to frightening levels.
In early August, we learned that the Ministry of Justice had awarded a £6m contract for ‘facial recognition smartwatches’ to be worn by foreign national offenders. The devices will track their GPS location 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will require them to scan their faces up to five times a day. The information obtained from the devices, including names, date of birth, nationality, photographs, and location data, will be stored for up to six years and may be accessed by the Home Office and shared with law and border enforcement agencies.
As such, we urge the Scottish Government to ensure that asylum seekers enjoy the same tenants’ rights as any resident in Scotland, including entitlements under the Scottish Housing Quality Standards and the protection from eviction encapsulated by the bill.
Aderonke Apata says she has Home Office to thank for career as she fought removal to Nigeria
A refugee who has just been called to the bar says she has the Home Office to thank for her career after she became an amateur legal expert while locked up in a detention centre.
Aderonke Apata, 55, from Nigeria, said she was proud to take part in a ceremony last week where she, along with dozens of other newly qualified barristers, were formally called to the bar.
Apata was almost forcibly removed from the UK on a Home Office charter flight to Nigeria in January 2013 after her asylum claim, based on the fact that as a lesbian who had been persecuted in Nigeria her life would be in danger if she was returned there, was rejected.
Apata had completed a degree in microbiology before fleeing Nigeria and hoped to pursue a career in public health in the UK.
She was detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire, which at the time was used mainly for women, from the end of 2011 until the beginning of 2013, including a week spent in solitary confinement in 2012.
During her time in Yarl’s Wood, more women – who either could not understand English or did not understand what the Home Office had written in refusal letters about their immigration claims – turned to Apata for help in explaining what was happening with their legal cases.
This inspection examined the use of hotels to accommodate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, with particular reference to the Home Office’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the United Kingdom.
Details: This inspection was not included in the Chief Inspector’s original 2021–2022 Inspection Plan but is a response to concerns raised with the inspectorate by stakeholders, and from the inspectorate’s own intelligence-gathering activities.
Extract added by SNN: symptomatic of how this system runs
4.15 In all but one of the hotels, the kitchens were permanently closed, and food had to be provided from another location. All the young people had every meal served in take-away containers as the use of plates was, according to contractor staff, not included in the contracts. The food was of mixed quality and the way in which it was provided missed an opportunity to create a more child-centred environment.
The report shows how the cost of visas puts a strain on the lives of innumerable migrants and their families.
A migrant on a route to settlement pays at least £2,593 every 2.5 years for a visa application and NHS surcharge. Many face additional costs, including legal fees. All this comes on top of the taxes and bills they pay along with everyone else. Many are not entitled to access public funds, such as housing benefits.
And it doesn’t end here: in some cases, migrants are being charged more than seven times the administrative cost of their visa.
Based on the experiences of more than 100 migrants, some of the key findings from our report are:
Welcome to this edition of SNN newsletter where we are covering a number of items that will be of interest to everyone involved in migrant and refugee solidarity work.
The first article reports the People’s Assembly against deaths at borders attended by representatives of Status Now in Brussells. More than 200 people from several countries took part in the conference and a demonstration in defence of migrants’ rights was organized outside the European Parliament. Our second article is dedicated to Friends of Status Now and its first online meeting. Finally we update on SNN plan for an away weekend strategy event and welcome our new signatories Bridging Change and Waling Waling.
People who have been to StatusNow events will most likely know that one of our CoChairs, Loraine Masiya Mponela is an amazing poet who bring to life the experiences of people living without status through her words.
We congratulate Loraine, and welcome the publication of her first book of poetry:
“I Was Not Born a Sad Poet”
You can read more about the book, Loraine, and her poetry on her website here
Pictures showed scores of people taking to the city centre as part of the campaign’s day of national action
Thousands of people gathered in Manchester city centre this afternoon to protest against soaring energy prices and the cost of living crisis as part of a day of national action for an anti-poverty campaign.
Enough is Enough, a national campaign created by trade unions and community organisations to help battle the cost of living crisis, launched in Manchester at an event in the Cathedral on August 30, where organisers say over 5,000 people attended to hear from mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and RMT member Eddie Dempsey.
The event officially launched the campaign in the city region, with over 500,000 people across the country signed up to support the organisation’s five demands within the first month. The group is pushing for: a real pay rise, lower energy bills, an end to food poverty, decent homes for everyone, and more taxation on the top five per cent of earners and big businesses.
Whilst some of the group’s demands have been partially met, including a reversal of the recent National Insurance payment increase from 12 per cent up to 13.5 per cent and a temporary cap to energy bill prices, a national day of action today, Saturday, October 1, saw demonstrations held in dozens of cities across the UK, including London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Birmingham.
March to Brussels 2022: Over two hundred people representing migrant and refugee rights organisations met in Brussels over the weekend September 30 – 2nd October to reinvigorate their collaboration across European networks.
The years of the Covid pandemic have had their impact on human rights activism in this area, which depends on people meeting face-to-face and finding ways to get beyond the national differences that distort transnational solidarity. But as the gathering got underway it was clear that participants were able to report on an upturn in their work, from across Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece as well as the UK, who all at strong representation in the discussion.