As we in No to Hassockfield hold our AGM and plan our next monthly demonstration on May 20th, these are dark times. Not just for our campaign but for everyone who cares about truth and humanity.
As the Illegal Migration Bill gets its second reading, in the House of Lords, and each clause is at last properly scrutinised, government ministers repeat endlessly that the measures they call ‘compassionate’ are desired by ‘the British people’. Where is the basis for this claim?
As ministers talk of how thousands will be turned back from our shores, the bottom of the barrel is being scraped to secure accommodation for a tiny fraction of the people who would be left in agonising limbo if the act were to be passed. A barge currently being refurbished in Falmouth is being refitted not to make conditions on it more habitable but to reconfigure it for twice as many occupants as it was designed for. Where’s the humanity in that?
None of the government’s actions are in the name of the 175 signatories below – No to Hassockfield is among them. We we are only too aware in our campaign that the Immigration Removal Centre we are fighting against is just one piece of an ugly jigsaw of injustice. If you want to inform yourself of how and why the illegal Migration Bill is such an assault on human rights, this link will take you to the UNHCR’s helpful rundown on the bill, now passing through the Lords.
But first, read this powerful statement:
“JOINT CIVIL SOCIETY SOLIDARITY STATEMENT ON THE ILLEGAL MIGRATION BILL
Posted on 10 May 2023
As a coalition of 176 civil society organisations representing the human rights, migrant, refugee, asylum, anti-slavery and trafficking, children’s, violence against women and girls, LGBTQI+, disability rights, health, LGBTQI+, housing, racial justice, criminal justice, arts, international development, environment, democracy, pan-equality, faith, access to justice, and other sectors, we call on Parliamentarians to urge the Government to immediately withdraw the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.
We all deserve to live safe from harm and to be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect. But this shockingly cruel and inhumane Bill turns our country’s back on people fleeing war and persecution, blocking them from protection, support, or justice at a time they need it most.
The Bill is effectively a ban on asylum, extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom. It will put people seeking safety and a better life at risk of irreversible harm, with life and death consequences.
This Bill attacks the very core of human rights, which is the fundamental belief that we all have human rights regardless of who we are or where we are from. Instead, it separates people into categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ of human rights. In stripping the most basic rights from people seeking safety and a better life, the Bill dismantles human rights protections for all of us.
The Bill deliberately and unacceptably excludes an entire category of people from the protections guaranteed under our domestic laws and international obligations. It will almost certainly breach multiple international conventions and agreements, including the UN Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT). The Government has acknowledged that it cannot guarantee the Bill will be compatible with the ECHR, a legally binding instrument.
The Convention represents the rights and values that we hold dear, including the right to life, protection from slavery and torture, and the right to liberty, which are all threatened by this Bill.
Not only does the Bill substantially threaten human rights, it aims to shield the Government from accountability when it does violate those rights by reducing parliamentary and judicial scrutiny.
The Bill includes the unprecedented and alarming proposal to disapply Section 3 of the Human Rights Act, which empowers our judges to interpret laws in a way that protects our rights. Without that protection, individuals affected by this Bill are limited from getting justice when their rights are violated.
The Bill hands vast delegated powers to the Secretary of State, including the power to amend laws in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, despite the fact that human rights are largely a devolved matter. The Bill would also enable Ministers to ignore interim measures from the European Court of Human Rights – a rare yet vital last resort to halt proceedings like deportations when people’s lives are deemed at risk of extreme and irreversible harm.
This Bill would almost certainly be unlawful domestically and internationally. The Bill signals to the international community that the Government intends to commit human rights abuses while evading scrutiny and accountability, setting a dangerous example to other states.
More importantly, these cruel and inhumane plans are a stain on our collective moral conscience, attacking the values we cherish as a democratic, rights-respecting society. This Bill is a dangerous piece of legislation that will most certainly lead to irreparable harm, grave suffering, and possible deaths if enacted.
We stand united in solidarity with the individuals and families who would be directly harmed, and oppose the Government’s divisive attacks on refugees migrants, victims and survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery, and other people who move. We fiercely reject any attempts to undermine the universality of human rights.
We urge all Parliamentarians to urge the Government to withdraw the Bill.”
This is our new banner, by artist Jane Gower. We’ll be holding it high on May 20th.