Abused, kidnapped and lost – the government should hang its head in shame over its lack of care towards vulnerable minors
Unaccompanied children fleeing war, torture and chaos are surely one of the most vulnerable demographics in the world. Yet an Observer investigation has exposed how once these children reach the UK they can be treated with an appalling lack of care, to the extent that large numbers are being kidnapped in plain sight by criminal gangs. Today, we publish allegations by a whistleblower that the staff in one hotel accommodating some of these already traumatised children have subjected them to repeated emotional abuse.
Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, has met some of the children being housed in a hotel in his constituency. He has described their vulnerability: one 15-year-old from Iran who had lost both of his parents travelled to the UK with a friend but was separated from him because he tested positive for Covid and was so anxious “his face was pinched and his legs were buckling”. The majority of unaccompanied children arriving in Britain come from countries with terrible records of conflict and human rights abuses: Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Many will be in immediate danger from the criminal gangs to whom they owe money for smuggling them into the country.
Charities including NSPCC, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council have written to the Prime Minister
Hundreds of children have gone missing from hotels and are suspected of being trafficked and exploited
The Home Office is unlawfully housing separated children in unsafe hotels, where they could be targeted by criminals
Over 100 charities from the refugee and children’s sectors have written to the Prime Minister today to express their grave concern about separated children seeking asylum going missing from Home Office hotels. The children are suspected of being exploited and are accommodated outside of the UK’s child welfare framework which applies to all children, regardless of their immigration status.
In the open letter coordinated by ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council, charities including major UK children’s charities NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, Coram, The Children’s Society and National Children’s Bureau, are calling for the Home Office to stop accommodating separated children in hotels with no further delays. They are also calling for children to be cared for by local authority children’s social care, according to the law and with all the safeguards that brings, including having OFSTED oversight, and for an urgent independent inquiry:
A new law has recently come into force in Finland that expands health care for undocumented migrants living in the country. Under this law, undocumented people can now access necessary care – that is, care that health care professionals deem necessary. This covers, for instance, conditions like diabetes or asthma that, if left untreated, would constitute a risk to the person’s health and increase the likelihood of urgent care being needed in the future.
The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration expresses disappointment at decision not to proceed with the Windrush Lessons Learned Review’s Recommendation 10.
This Government is not accepting the recommendations arising from the Windrush Review to expand the powers of ICIBI (not surprisingly as Dave Neal has been very vocal). He writes: ‘I look forward to engaging with ministers and officials to ensure further progress towards meeting Williams’s call for the Home Office to become ‘an organisation that is more confident under the gaze of external scrutiny’.
Charities have criticised ‘warehousing’ centres, calling instead for better integration in society
Details of a £70m contract to put asylum seekers into controversial accommodation centres have been published by the Home Office, the Guardian has learned.
The Home Office has said repeatedly it wants to move tens of thousands of asylum seekers out of hotels, which are costing about £5.6m a day. But its first attempt to set up such a centre at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, in North Yorkshire, stalled after local opposition, including from Conservative politicians and the threat of legal challenges. Since then no other concrete plans have emerged.
In December, the Home Office added the £70m project to its procurement pipeline, the mechanism that it says provides a formal look at its “anticipated outsourcing activity over the next 24 months”.
Accuracy of examining bones to determine age In non-medical contexts, bone development and skeletal maturity assessed by these methods is used to assess overall maturity as a proxy for chronological age. The accuracy of these methods has been widely researched. Most children (95%) will have a skeletal maturity age within plus or minus 2 years of their chronological age.
Updated 21 January 2023: Another beautiful day as we stand in solidarity with the women incarcerated at the Derwentside IRC aka Hassockfield detention centre.
We were joined by students from Durham university – this tells us our call to shut down this centre is gaining momentum. We had senior member from Durham and a politician that spoke strongly against this establishment. It was peaceful and the police were there but did not have work very hard.
On 16 January 2023 there was a High Court hearing to deal with all matters following on from its ruling published on 19 December 2022. You can you can read more about the case and its implications here and here. You can find a full copy of the judgment here, and a summary here.
The various claims in this case were heard on a ‘rolled up’ basis. This means that permission to apply for judicial review and the substantive merits of the grounds were considered at the same time. Permission was granted on all of the grounds advanced by individual asylum seekers and Asylum Aid.
‘This is the overarching lesson of our ever-more disrupted world: we need to reimagine how power in the world is exercised, and that all governments not only have the opportunity but the responsibility to take action to protect human rights within and beyond their borders.’
“In 2022, we saw the most significant assault on human rights protections in the UK in decades,” said Yasmine Ahmed, UK director at Human Rights Watch. “From your right to protest to your ability to hold institutions to account, fundamental and hard-won rights are being systematically dismantled.”
Human Rights Watch highlighted several laws introduced in 2022 that had the effect of significantly weakening human rights protections. The UK government introduced laws that stripped rights of asylum seekers and other vulnerable people, encouraged voter disenfranchisement, limited judicial oversight of government actions, and placed new restrictions on the right to peaceful protest.
The government also proposed the repeal and replacement of the Human Rights Act, which gives life to the European Convention on Human Rights in the United Kingdom, with a so-called Bill of Rights. Human Rights Watch said the bill, if adopted, would fundamentally undermine human rights protections in the UK.
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 analyses the renewed government attacks on the rights of migrants and invites all movements for migrant justice to come together and intensify our campaigns to defeat them. The second article reports the launch of the antiracist network promoted by the Trade Union Congress. A call for the rights of domestic workers by our signatory Waling Waling is the topic of our third article, while a contribution by our signatory Migrant Voice denounces the horrible conditions experienced by asylum seekers in London hotels. Finally we welcome our new signatory Migrant Democracy Project.
Migrant Voice have been engaging with asylum seekers accommodated in hotels across London, to learn about their conditions and experiences.
We are currently conducting a survey and we will be launching a report on the conditions and experiences of asylum seekers as part of a campaign to give them a voice and improve their situation.
The campaign came about from hearing from a number of asylum seekers in hotels and organisations supporting them. We learnt that some of the hotels are overcrowded, with some having up to ten people in one room and one toilet for the whole floor. We’ve heard complaints about the quality of the food, the lack of support, the mistreatment from some staff, lengthy waiting times in hotels which can exceed a year and a half, and lack of communication from the Home Office.
Among the asylum seekers are families, children and women, some of whom pregnant, who did not receive proper care. We are aware of women who have not been moved out of the hotel, even after giving birth.
The inaugural meeting of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) anti racist network took place in London last November.
It was attended by about 50 people, The overwhelming majority of them were migrant and migrant advocate organisations’ members.
The discussion stressed the importance that all workers, whatever their immigration status is, get organised to stop exploitation, and showed a general wish to see a permanent network created and coordinated by the TUC.
A number of thought provoking speakers were heard (including Emmanuelle Andrews, Liberty; Fizza Qureshi, Migrants Rights Network; Gargi Bhattacharyya, TUC Race Relations Committee; Liam Shrivastava, Institute of Race Relations; Sereena Abbassi, gal-dem; Sophie Chauhan, Dalston Superstore). The Government’s anti migrant and racist legislation was condemned and it was evident that the TUC and individual Unions accepted that they must do much more, both in challenging racism and organising precarious workers.
Waling Waling: In 1997/98 the then Labour government accepted that domestic work in the private household would be recognised as work in employment legislation.
This followed a ten-year long campaign organised by Kalayaan, Waling Waling, the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) and fully supported by the Transport & General Workers Union, now Unite. Other organisations and individuals including parliamentarians in both Houses and in the European Parliament supported the campaign over the years. Disgracefully, in 2012 the then Home Secretary in the coalition government, Teresa May abolished the domestic worker visa with rights and protections, saying that future domestic workers would be protected under the Modern Slavery Act, thereby reducing workers with legal rights and protections to victims with the promise of protection. This system simply doesn’t work.
StatusNow4All: Welcome to 2023, as the government renews its attacks on the rights of migrants
The New Year was underway before the prime minister offered up his ‘five pledges’ to the nation, one of which being to stop “small boats” crossing the Channel. The use of phrase is intended to put a benign gloss on a political programme which aims at a final end to the right to seek asylum in the UK.
The right wing of Mr Sunak’s party sees a renewed attack on the rights of migrants as the only chance the Conservative party has of digging itself out of the deep hole of its current unpopularity and winning a general election sometime in 2024. They are prepared to throw everything they have got at the task of ending all vestiges of migrant and refugee rights and returning to the hostile environment policies which produced the ‘Windrush generation’ scandal of 2017.
Join us to learn about the proposed expansion of immigration detention in the UK and how we can resist it.
The Home Office has recently announced plans to reopen Campsfield House and Haslar as Immigration Removal Centres, increasing the number of people that can be detained at any given time by 33%, at a cost of £399 million to the taxpayer.
These plans are part of an alarming trend of regressive and inhumane legislation which criminalises asylum seekers and migrants and substantially increases the numbers of detainable and deportable people. Increasing detention capacity is part of the infrastructure required to enact the Government’s inhumane plans to remove people seeking asylum to Rwanda, which must be stopped.
This event will bring together several speakers to discuss how we can come together to resist the expansion of immigration detention and move towards a world in which no one is deprived of their liberty for immigration purposes or deported from their home.
Panel Chair: Writer and campaigner Gracie Mae Bradley will chair the panel. She has a decade’s experience working in NGOs in England, including as Director of the civil liberties group Liberty, as well as being part of many grassroots campaigns. She is co-author of Against Borders (Verso, 2022).
Speakers: Kolbassia Haoussou MBE, Director of Survivor Empowerment at Freedom from Torture who will be speaking about their successful campaigning work targeting airlines removing asylum seekers to Rwanda as well as broader campaigning against Hostile Environment Policies. Jacqueline McKenzie, partner and head of immigration and asylum law at Leigh Day Solicitors with whom BID is working on a legal challenge against Manston. Drawing on her vast experience, including representing hundreds of people affected by the Windrush Scandal, she will be discussing how we can hold the government to account in court. Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West who joined local campaigners in successfully closing an Immigration Removal Centre in Oxford in 2018, and is currently fighting government proposals to re-open it. Bill MacKeith, from the Keep Campsfield Closed Coalition, will be sharing insight gleaned from over 30 years of campaigning to close Campsfield down and keep it closed. Pierre Makhlouf, Legal Director at Bail for Immigration Detainees, will be discussing trends in Immigration Detention Policy, the case against immigration detention and BID’s work to end it.