A human rights tribunal will take place in Berlin from October 23-25, 2020. Where we are hearing human rights violations of migrant and refugee peoples on acces to health.
There is a growing atmosphere of resentment directed at migrants and refugees: Asylum laws are being tightened, the European Union (EU) continuously attempts to seal external borders. Although the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its outstanding moral standards, including commitment to human rights, this very same EU allows thousands of people to die while crossing its borders. Sick, traumatised or pregnant people are frequently deported. Many refugees experience ever stricter asylum laws and racial discrimination, even from medical personnel, leading to a denial of their right to healthcare. These violations of the human right to health endangers these vulnerable people unacceptably. We are bringing charges on human rights violations of migrant and refugee peoples in the following areas: Access to health care Consequences of living standards in mass accommodation on mental and physical health Residence status, deportation and health Criminalisation civil humanitarian assistance Germany‘s responsibility regarding the European policy of sealing external borders Racism, gender and age specific aspects are cross sectional topics throughout the indictment.
Folgende Organisationen sind schon dabei | Alliance partners already involved
- Ärzte der Welt
- BAfF, Bundesweite Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Psychosozialen Zentren für Flüchtlinge und Folteropfer
- Borderline-europe – Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V.
- Deutsche Aidshilfe
- Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg
- International Women Space
- IPPNW e.V.
- Medibüro Berlin
- Medico International
- Women in Exile e.V.
- Yaar e.V.
A human rights tribunal will take place in Berlin from October 23-25, 2020.
Inspired by solidarity between migrants, refugees and human rights organizations and other social movements towards equality and an inclusive society, more than 30 migrant and refugee organisations, endorsed by 100 movements, networks and organisations from different European countries launched the 45th Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) on the Violations with Impunity of the Human Rights of Migrant and Refugee Peoples in Barcelona in 2017.
Since then, five hearings have been held on diverse issues in several European cities – (Barcelona (July 2017), Palermo (December 2017), Paris (January 2018), Barcelona (July 2018), London (November 2018), Brussels (April 2019) . These Hearings aim to give visibility to the migrant and refugee peoples from all backgrounds as subjects of fundamental human rights; to identify and judge the chain of co-responsibility in the violation of those rights experienced throughout the whole migratory journey and to highlight the urgent need for fundamental change in respect of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples and to promote appropriate mechanisms for access to justice.
The PPT is a Human Rights Opinion Tribunal which draws its mandate from the Charter of Algiers – the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Peoples – elaborated in 1976 in Algiers.
We have seen Europe’s migration policy of exclusion being constructed year after year – a policy that has resulted in a sweeping rollback of people’s human rights. We have also seen right-wing populist and racist ideas becoming more and more socially acceptable all over Europe. We constantly hear about the deadly consequences of these policies and appalling human rights violations – including those concerning health and physical and mental well-being of migrant and refugee peoples throughout their journeys to Europe and within different countries in Europe including Germany. While some of these violations have been made public and are well-documented, political and legal consequences are rare.
Building on this experience and the framework of the PPT, we, a growing coalition of activists, refugee and migrant self-organizations and health and human rights organizations, make this Call to hold a public Tribunal Hearing on the issue of Human Rights and Health in Germany in October 2020.
The PPT is a process that is being built from below, with the people most involved and most directly affected. We believe that it’s important to count on as many voices as possible to bring different perspectives and experiences together. In this regard, this coalition makes a strong call to address the connections between the crisis of health care and its effects on the rights of migrants, refugees and citizens alike in the context of exclusionary politics, austerity regimes and neoliberal restructuring. Although already in the planning since 2019, the Berlin Hearing with its focus on the Human Right to Health, takes on additional significance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – which makes very visible the role of migrant and refugees both as frontline essential workers or high risk casualties.
The PPT Berlin Hearing aims to facilitate migrant and refugee movements to develop new alliances with other social movements and with health professionals and workers as well as academia, art and other related sectors.
Why focus on Health?
Health is a basic need of human beings and social communities. We start from a holistic concept of health which goes beyond health care to emphasize the social and political conditions necessary for a heathy life. The human right to health means that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to all medicalservices, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions, and a clean environment.
We think that the precarious developments described above not only concern migrants and refugees but all of us and our democracy in several ways. We fear that the “necropolitics” on the borders of Europe which lets people seeking refuge in Europe die deliberately at sea or in the desert as well as the criminalization of solidarity are compromising our collective health as societies. These policies and practices lead to conditions that normalise violence, dehumanise social relations, weaken democratic and egalitarian values and punish empathy, civic engagement and solidarity. But we also believe that the issue of health can bring the struggle of refugees and migrants and other social movements together.
Program Hearing Brussels
Session on the Human Rights of Migrants and Refugee Peoples
9 April 2019 9.00 to 13.00
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS
ROOM ASP 1G2
(Interpretation: EN, FR, ES, DE, IT, NL, EL, SV)
NOTE Getting your Badge to enter the EP: The entry to the European Parliament is at the Simone Veil entrance of the ASP building - on the side of the Place Luxembourg. GUE/NGL people will wait those who need a badge, on the stairs of this entrance, with a poster of the event, from 8:15 to 8:45. So people need to get to the Parliament at 8.00 am
NOTE: Please bring your banners, posters, publications etc for display at the Parliament and at the Demo
09:00 – 09:45 Welcoming words and introduction
- Gabi Zimmer, President of GUE/NGL
- Claude Moraes, Chair of the Comittee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
- Jille Belisario, Transnational Migrant Platform-Europe
- Braulio Moro, France Amerique Latine (FAL)
- Simona Fraudatario, Gianni Tognoni, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
09:45 - 11:15 Report and perspectives of the PPT deliberations
The PPT Session on migrants and refugee people
Philippe Texier, President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
Legal strategies for Italian and European responsibility
Antonello Ciervo, Chiara Favilli, Luca Masera (Asgi)
Policies of criminalisation, conscription and marginalisation
Frances Webber, Human Rights lawyer and Vice-Chair of the Institute of Race Relations
Crimes of the system: a vacuum in international law
Perfecto Andrés Ibáñez, member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
Looking forward: concluding Declaration and comments by the panel of judges
Bridget Anderson, Luciana Castellina, Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France , Claire-Marie Lievens, Patricia Orejudo
11:15 - 11:45 Citizens’ networks as example of "civil disobedience"
Adham Darawsha, Councillor for CultureS and Democratic Participation, City of Palermo
Miguel Roldan, fire fighter – case of criminalisation of solidarity.
11 :45- 12:40 Interventions of participant parliamentarians and social movements: Going Forward to political action
Moderators: Brid Brennan (TNI) and MEP Miguel Urbán (GUE/NGL)
Moderation: Brid Brennan, TNI (Ireland) & MEP Miguel Urban, Podemos (Spain)
- Root Causes - Forced displacement of Migrant and Refugee People
Free Trade & Investment Agreements, War, Climate Change
Mohammed Hakech (LVC/Morocco); Samah Ibrahim Representative of UAWC/Palestine; Lamine Bathily (Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes-Barcelona);Clara Osagiede (RMT/TU/UK)
- Journeys & Borders – Dead & Disappeared (Med & Aegean Sea)
Crime against Humanity Role of Corporations in Border Wars
Representative of Sea Watch, Germany; Imed Soltani (Land for All/Tunis); Monica Vargas (TNI/Spain); Driss El Korchi (MCDC/Belgium)
- Fortress Europe – Hostile Environment
Detention, Deportation, Racism and Islamophobia
Liz Fekete (IRR/UK), Renata Molina (FAL/France); Hatem Gheribi (Watch the Med AlarmPhone/Europe)
- Gender Rights / Women Organising
Fatou Secka (Equis-MG/Spain); Petra Snelders (Respect/Europe); Angie Garcia (Waling Waling/UK); Jara Henar (Stop Mare Mortum)
- Youth & Children
Luciano Banchio (Espacio del Inmigrante/Spain); Glen Sangcap (CFMW/Italia)
- Resistance & Alternatives, Transnational Activism and Solidarity
LAB representative (Basque Country); Khadija Najlaoui (UNITE/UK); Nonoi Hacbang (TMP-E/Europe); Cristina Brovia; Deborah Valencia (MELISSA /Greece)
12:40 – 13 :00 Conclusions
- Franco Ippolito, on the behalf of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
- Federico Pacheco, La Via Campesina
- MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat, member of the Subcommittee for Human Rights
- Hosted in the European Parliament by
More than 500 organisations have worked together in solidarity with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
For more information please contact: [email protected]
Evidence presented by Liz Fekete on behalf of the PPT at the APPG on Race and Community & APPG on
Migration Putting People First: Protecting Public Services from the Hostile Environment,
4 April 2019, Committee Room 9, Palace of Westminster.
On 3-4 November 2018, migrants’ rights groups, trades unionists and race experts came together to put the ‘hostile environment’ on trial at the fourth European session of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on the violations with impunity of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples. An expert jury heard testimony from witnesses drawn from frontline services, academia, migrants’ networks and, crucially, migrants and refugees themselves, including former immigration detainees, care workers, cleaners and domestic workers.
What did this public opinion tribunal teach us and what did it reveal?
From the outset I should say that the evidence we received and heard both as written and oral testimony pointed to the fact that the issue of public services could not be divorced from the hostile environment of employer sanctions, the criminalisation of work and workplace exploitation. Denial of services and a nativist approach to migrant workers goes hand in hand. And that’s the main message of the PPT that I am bringing here today.
The PPT foregrounded the widespread subcontracting and outsourcing which leads to the creation of ‘sites without rights’ or ‘spaces for exploitation’. We heard from witnesses repeatedly how ‘migrant’ status puts people outside the protection of public services andthe law, including labour laws – witness the failure to enforce the minimum wage for migrant workers and the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board in 2013.
Testimony from trades unionists and workers in specific sectors showed how migrants can be virtually disenfranchised: hotels and housekeeping, warehousing, road haulage, in food and agriculture, in construction (where bonded labour is even used) and in care and domestic work, where a mainly legal female workforce faces sex, race and class discrimination, usually with no access to legal remedies.
The creation of illegality is intimately tied to the deterrence logic of the hostile environment which dissuades people from accessing public services including health care. It starts with the conscription of employers, landlords, university staff and medics, into surveillance and enforcement. But we heard too how it builds on the legal measures that have criminalised work since the 1990s - the ban on work for asylum seekers, the introduction and intensification of employer sanctions, salary thresholds for settlement and family reunification, the creation in 2016 of a new criminal offence of illegal working.
I am sure the APPG on Race & Community has been addressing some of these issues, such as how employer sanctions affect immigration enforcement through raids on mainly small, BAME-owned workplaces. One witness, Bobby Chan of the Min Quan Advocacy Group, claimed the law has been weaponised by Home Office officials with unchecked power to close a business down. He told how frequent raids, accompanied by physical brutality, were in fact a legalised shakedown rather than real immigration enforcement, with those arrested being released within minutes but employers expected to pay fines of £20,000 a time. This is leading to contempt for the law.
A number of witnesses described the perverse impact of immigration rules. Kent Refugee Help explained how the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule creates crime, by creating destitution. Leeds Migrant Action and Dr Jon Burnett of Swansea University spoke of the ‘captive labour’ of detained asylum seekers, denied permission to work in the UK but performing nearly a million hours of menial work in detention without the protection of labour laws, at less than a seventh of the minimum wage. This again leads to contempt for the government, an exploitative employer which argues that it is fine to pay detainees £1 an hour because ‘this is not work, but a way of passing time’.
Yes, the evidence presented to the PPT pointed to the dangers in data sharing and the shameful exclusion from services, but it also highlighted the need to understand how government policy and law provide the structures for super-exploitation. Creating a climate of fear where the sick and undocumented are too frightened to access public services places enormous power in the hands of unscrupulous employers and also creates divisions among NHS staff, with some workers, as Dr Neal Russell explained, willingly using racial profiling to decide who should pay for services within a charging system that is out of reach for poorly paid migrant workers. (This same doctor was one of several who returned medals awarded for fighting Ebola in West Africa because they believe creating fear and mistrust in the NHS is wrong and that ‘collectively, as human beings we should never allow anything to stand in the way to access to health care’)
All the written evidence presented to the PPT can be found on the website of the Transnational Migrants Platform where we will also download videos of some of the testimony. Next week we are meeting in the European parliament to discuss our findings with parliamentarians and our colleagues in Barcelona, Palermo and Paris who also organised hearings. Although the UK is the only country where the hostile environment has officially been acknowledged as a state policy objective, it is practised in effect in every EU country, and by the EU which has announced its intention to suspend search and rescue in the Mediterranean. The EU is complicit in sending boat people back to Libyan detention centres where they are subjected to forced labour (yes, the issue of labour exploitation returns!), as well as sexual abuse, trafficking and torture including electric shocks, burns, lashes and even flaying.
The PPT indictment, by immigration expert Frances Webber, is available in the current issue of the IRR’s journal Race & Class.We will be bringing out a book including all the testimonies next year. The courage and commitment of the witnesses who appeared before the PPT is acknowledged by all of us who took part as the driver of the judgment which is now being finalised and will be delivered to the Home Office shortly.
Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Hearing
The Human Rights of Migrant and Refugee Peoples
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS
on Tuesday 9thApril from 9.00-13.00
Room ASP 1G2
Panel of judges
Bridget Anderson (UK)
Professor of migration, mobilities and citizenship at Bristol University, Anderson is also Director of Migration Mobilities Bristol (https://migration.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/). She has been Professor of migration and citizenship and research director at COMPAS in Oxford. She has a DPhil in sociology and previous training in philosophy and modern languages. She has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls(Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour(Zed Books, 2000). She coedited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy with Martin Ruhs(Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportationwith Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politicswith Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Anderson has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level. I'm
Perfecto Andrés Ibáñez (Spain)
Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain and director of the magazine “Jueces para la Democracia”. He is member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.
Luciana Castellina (Italy)
Born in Rome in 1929, graduated in law, journalist, deputy of the Chamber of Deputies and the European
Parliament between 1976 and 1999, former vice-president of the Parliamentary Delegation for Central
America and for South America, president of the Culture, and External Economic Relations Committee of the European Parliament. She was vice president of the International League for the Rights of the People,
currently the honorary president of the ARCI, an Italian cultural and social association.
Mireille Fanon Mendes France (France)
President of the Frantz-Fanon Foundation and member of the Working Group of experts for people of African descent of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations
Franco Ippolito (Italy)
President of the Lelio Basso Foundation and former President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal. Section President and previously Secretary-General of the Supreme Court of Cassation. He has been the Secretary-General of the Associazione Nazionale dei Magistrati, the President of Magistratura Democratica, President of the Associazione Italiana Giuristi Democratici, a member of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, and Director-General of the judicial organisation of the Justice ministry. He has written essays and lectures in national and international courses in the field of jurisdictional guarantees and of judicial organisation. He has taken part in numerous international missions in Europe and Latin America (in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru).
Claire-Marie Lievens (Belgium)
Legal adviser in foreigners and asylum law for the Human Rights League in Belgium (Ligue des Droits Humains).
Luis Moita (Portugal)
He is a Professor of International Relations at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, where he is the Director of the OBSERVARE research centre which publishes an annual report and of the bi-annual scientific publication JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations. He directed the Portuguese NGO CIDAC, Amilcar Cabral Information and Documentation Centre, for 15 years. He is a founder member of the Portuguese Council for Refugees. He has cooperated with the Basso Foundation since the 1980s and is a member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.
Patricia Orejudo (España)
Professor of Private International Law University of the Complutense University of Madrid. Lawyer specialized in Human Rights. PHD in Law. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses, in many other centres in Spain, Europe and Latin America. Member of the state campaign for the closure of Detention Centres for Migrants and the Sol Legal Commission. She has worked in Women's Link Worldwide, a non-profit organization that uses the power of the law to promote and defend the rights of women and girls, as a senior lawyer, and has collaborated with the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR). Investigate issues mainly related to migration from a gender perspective.
Philippe Texier (France)
President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, he has been an expert consultant of the French Court of Cassation, from 1997 to 2012. He was also a member of the Committee for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which he chaired from 2008 to 2009. He was an independent expert of the Commission for Human Rights in Haiti from 1988 to 1990 and the Director of the United Nations missions in El Salvador, ONUSAL (1991-1992).
- The direct testimonies of the witnesses, together with the written and oral presentations of the experts, provide robust and comprehensive documentation of the dramatic and systematic violations of the fundamental rights to life and dignity of migrants and refugees, both as individuals and as a group, indicated in the Indictment as the target and victims of a spectrum of repressive legislation and policies enacted by the UK government over the last several years.
- The evidence and documentation clearly establish that the violations of fundamental individual and collective rights presented to the PPT are the deliberate, planned and systematic expression of repressive policies which, translated into legal provisions and norms, affect the full spectrum of the concrete rights which must be recognised in all human beings: rights to life, to dignity, to health, to work, to education.
- In all the critical domains of their existence, migrants and refugees appear to be the victims of an ever deeper and more pervasive political, juridical and cultural transformation of a society which accepts and promotes the reversal of the values of democracy, of binding obligations for Governments and of basic principles of international law as affirmed and enforced in the corresponding international instruments. Economic and security-driven legal measures are given priority and prevail over the inviolable legitimacy of the individual and collective rights belonging to human beings, which are denied.
- The contemporary migration and asylum regime demonstrates a deliberate historical amnesia, ignoring the destructive consequences of British colonialism and the ways in which this continues to underpin the massive inequalities of contemporary global political economy. These inequalities are a key factor in impelling human mobility.
- A policy which has defined itself as promoting a “hostile environment” corresponds to the non-recognition of migrants and refugees as people and members of society despite the disparate nature of their origins and of the causes of their migrations, displacements and expulsions. The transformation of persons exercising their fundamental right to migrate into ‘others’, aliens, potential or real enemies, invaders and aggressors, both in attitudes and in concrete behaviours such as labour contracts, reproduces categories of colonialism and slavery.
- A further reason for concern, and a confirmation of the direct responsibility of UK institutions, emerges from the documentation of the administrative and bureaucratic rigidity in the application of unjustifiable and opaque rules designed for the repressive control of people, the direct product of global models of development which pretend to bear no responsibility for the violations to the dignity of life, specifically of the most fragile individuals and groups.
- The London session has focused on the situation of migrants and refugees in the real life of a democratic society that can be considered as a model. The testimonies presented – factually so well documented, with a lucidity which could not exclude a deep emotional participation – are highly consistent in terms of severity and for their characteristics of systematicity and continuity with the findings of the previous sessions devoted to other aspects and steps of the migration process in the EU. The responsibility of the several institutions referred to in the testimonies and illustrated in the expert reports, have appeared to the panel of judges well proven, having regard to official norms and political documents. As mentioned above, the juridical (criminal and civil) definition of responsibility for the violations, with a careful assessment of the causal determinants and actors, will be the subject of the full report. But it is clear that the basic crime of denial of the rights to life, to dignity, and to the rule of law, can be considered ascertained beyond any reasonable doubt. Further, it is clear from the evidence heard in previous sessions, in different scenarios and modalities, and confirmed in some ad hoc reports in this session, that the UK situation is not unique, but rather is an expression of the broader processes and institutional responsibilities vested not only in the countries and the central institutions of the EU but also in the diffuse geographical and political scenarios where economic and environmental poverty, armed conflict and wars oblige human beings to become peoples without rights facing legal and racist violence, and the further violence of systematic impunity.
- This summary account of the public hearings and experience of the London session of the PPT would not be complete without underlining other even more impressive evidence in opposition to violations and impunity. The evidence the PPT has heard demonstrates the creativity and resistance of individuals and communities who, in a hostile environment, affirm and document that solidarity is not a crime but a resource, constantly renewed and shared as a perspective of “another future” – striving for new transnational strategies of action and solidarity among migrants and refugees themselves and with citizens. Beyond any repressive process of “identification”, migrants and refugees affirm their identity as human subjects and, through their common experience and their solidarity, their identity as a people. The PPT can be only one of the processes in support of their peaceful struggles for life and dignity.
Bridget Anderson - Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship at Bristol University. She formerly held the post of Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Research Director at COMPAS in Oxford. She has a DPhil in Sociology and previous training in Philosophy and Modern Languages. She has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (Zed Books, 2000). She coedited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy with Martin Ruhs (Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation with Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politics with Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Bridget Anderson has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level.
Wah-Piow Tan - A Balliol educated human rights solicitor in London representing Chinese migrants in the UK since 180s. A former political prisoner and exile from Singapore, Wah-Piow is well known since his youth as a student leader, activist, writer and public speaker advocating democratic reforms in Singapore. Most recently, in August 2018, he enjoyed unprecedented extensive media coverage following his 80 minutes discussion with the new Malaysian Prime Minister on the subject of expanding the democratic space in Southeast Asia. In 1980, Wah-Piow attended the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) hearing on The Philippines in Antwerp as an observer.
Maureen Byrne is a Councillor. She is a retired full time Equality Officer in Unite the Union. She has been on the Employment Tribunal panel for 30 years. Currently she is Employment Law adviser for the Stansted Airport Branch. Maureen is chairperson for the Bury St Edmund’s Women’s Aid Refuge and Local Association for Mental and Physical Handicapped Charity, a group supporting young people with special needs. She is the Town Council Chairperson of the Personnel Committee.
Dr Eddie Bruce Jones AB (Harvard); MA (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin); JD (Columbia); LLM in Public International Law (KCL is currently acting dean and Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck College, University of London where he teaches and researches in the areas of human rights, comparative discrimination law, racism, sexuality and migration. He is an academic fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, a member of the New York state bar and a trustee of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group. He serves with a collective of lawyers on the Independent Commission on the Death of Oury Jalloh in Germany (on police brutality and due process) and is the Sexuality and Gender Identity Resource Co-ordinator for the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Network based in Oxford
Leah Bassel - is a member of Haringey Welcome, a campaign group working for fairness, dignity and respect for migrants and refugees in the London borough of Haringey. Leah researches the political sociology of migration, intersectionality and citizenship as Professor of Sociology at the University of Roehampton. Her books include Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture (Routledge, 2012), The Politics of Listening: Possibilities and Challenges for Democratic Life (Palgrave, 2017), and Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain co-authored with Akwugo Emejulu (Policy Press 2017). She is currently co-Principal Investigator, with Akwugo Emejulu, of the Open Society-funded project Women of Colour Resist and has also led projects funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy. Before pursuing an academic career, Leah was an emergency outreach worker in Paris where she provided humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and created a circus camp project for refugee youth. She holds a DPhil from the Refugee Studies Centre/Nuffield College, University of Oxford and a BA and MA from McGill University, Canada.
Enrico Pugliese - is Professor of sociology of work, (Emeritus) at Sapienza- University of Rome, faculty member of the Graduate school in applied sociology, University of Rome La Sapienza. He is also research associate at Irpps (Istituto di ricerche sulla popolazione e le politiche sociali), National research council, Rome. He has been Professor of Sociology of work at the University of Napoles "Federico II" where he served as chairman of the department of sociology and then as dean of the faculty of sociology. He has been visiting professor in several European and American Universities. He has been also meember of the National commission of inquiry on work at the Consiglio nazionale dell’economia e del lavoro, chairman of the Commission for drafting the immigration law of the Regione Campania. He has also been member of the advisory Commission of the City Mayor of Napoli for immigration policy. His main research interests include: international migration, Italian migration in Europe, third world immigration in Italy, migration policies, labour market with special reference to precarious employment and unemployment. His recent publications on migration include: Quelli che se ne vanno (Those who leave), Il mulino 2018, and International Migrations and the Mediterranean in Andreotti, Benassi, Kazepov (eds) Western Capitalism in transition, Manchester University Press 2018.
Bridget Anderson (UK)
Bridget Anderson is Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Research Director at COMPAS. She has a DPhil in Sociology and previous training in Philosophy and Modern Languages. She has explored the tension between labour market flexibilities and citizenship rights, and pioneered an understanding of the functions of immigration in key labour market sectors. She is the author of Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (Zed Books, 2000). She coedited Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy with Martin Ruhs (Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2012), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation with Matthew Gibney and Emanuela Paoletti (Springer, 2013), and Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politics with Isabel Shutes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Bridget Anderson has worked closely with migrants’ organisations, trades unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level.
Laia Serra (Estado español)
Criminal lawyer, works in human rights, non-discrimination, hate crimes and gender violence. Member of the Defence Commission of the Lawyers Association of Barcelona, of Women Lawyers and of the Catalan Association for the Defence of Human Rights, which is part of the Catalan Coordination for the Prevention and Complaint of Torture, and regularly collaborates with different feminist collectives. She has advised the Observatory against Homophobia since 2007 and the Association for Assistance to Sexually Assaulted Women (AADAS) since 2014. She has intervened in political advocacy campaigns such as the eradication of rubber bullets in Catalonia, the non-introduction of guns Taser in the armament of the Mossos d'Esquadra, the access to assisted reproduction of all women, and the change of health care model for transgender people. She has intervened in several court cases related to the limits on freedom of expression, the criminalization of protest and gender violence through social networks. Collaborates in the drafting of the Regulations for the Deployment of the Law against Catalan LGBTI phobia and in legal opinion articles with El Diario.es, La Directa, El Punt Avui and Pikara Magazine.
Stasa Zajovic (Montenegro)
Feminist activist, pacifist and member of the Montenegrin LGBT Movement, co-founder and coordinator of the organization Women in Black of Belgrade created in 1991 at the beginning of the war in Yugoslavia. In Belgrade, during the war in the former Yugoslavia, she was one of the activists who led the silent vigils of Women in Black that took place regularly every week from 1991 to 1997 as a nonviolent protest against the war; the politics of the Serbian regime; nationalism; militarism and all forms of hate, discrimination and violence. She is one of the organizers of the Women's Court, Sarajevo, in May 2015.
Patricia Orejudo (Estado español)
Professor of Private International Law University of the Complutense University of Madrid. Lawyer specialized in Human Rights. PHD in Law. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses, in many other centres in Spain, Europe and Latin America. Member of the state campaign for the closure of Detention Centres for Migrants and the Sol Legal Commission. She has worked in Women's Link Worldwide, a non-profit organization that uses the power of the law to promote and defend the rights of women and girls, as a senior lawyer, and has collaborated with the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR). Investigate issues mainly related to migration from a gender perspective.
Marina Forti (Italia)
Journalist based in Rome. She worked with the daily newspaper “il manifesto” for 30 years, mostly as a Foreign Correspondent and later Foreign Editor. She traveled in Iran, South Asia and South East Asia. She started the column “TerraTerra” (“Earth to Earth”) on environmental justice and the conflicts for the natural resources. Her book La signora di Narmada (Feltrinelli 2004) was awarded the Elsa Morante Prize for Communication. Her latest book is “Il cuore di tenebra dell'India” (Bruno Mondadori 2012). She contributes regularly to Internazionale.it.
Teresa Almeida Cravo (Portugal)
Assistant Professor in International Relations at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra and a Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies. She is currently co-coordinator of the PhD Programme Democracy in the XXIst Century and coordinator of the Master’s degree in International Relations – Peace, Security and Development Studies, both at the University of Coimbra. She holds a PhD from the Department of Politics and International Studies of the University of Cambridge. In the last years, Teresa has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Westminster, in the UK, at the University of Monash, in Australia, and a Predoctoral Fellow and later an Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her research interests include peace and conflict, security and development, interventionism, and foreign policy, particularly within the Lusophone context.
INDICTMENT London Hearing 2018
The Defendant to this indictment is the British government (in its own right and as representative of the governments of the EU and of the global North).
This session calls on the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal to consider whether the policies of theEuropean Union and its member states in the field of immigration and asylum, particularly as they affect migrant peoples in the chain of labour, amount to serious violations of the articles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples signed in Algiers on 4 July 1976, to serious violations of the rights of individuals as enshrined in particular in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and, in their totality, to a crime against humanity within the meaning of Art. 7 of the Rome Statute.
The current indictment is presented as one of a series of indictments against the governments of the global North within the framework set out at the introductory hearing in Barcelona in July 2017. These indictments taken together set out the ways in which the governments of the global North and the institutions of the EU have (a) created conditions making life unsustainable for millions in the global South, thus causing mass forced migration; (b) treated those migrating to the global North as non-persons, by denying them the rights owed to all humans by virtue of their common humanity, including rights to life, dignity and freedom; (c) created zones which are in practice excluded from the rule of law and human rights within the global North.
Governments of the global North, together with the international financial institutions, pursue trade, investment, financial, foreign relations, and development policies which uphold a system of global exploitation that destabilises governments, causes armed conflict, degrades the environment and impoverishes and immiserate workers and communities in the global South, thereby forcing millions to leave their homes to seek safety, security and livelihood elsewhere.
At the same time, through policies of deregulation, privatisation, welfare state retrenchment and outsourcing of government functions, marketisation and flexibilisation, the restructuring of work and labour relations have been enabled in the global North, creating acute insecurity and precarity, depressing real wages and conditions of work for most workers.
Through labour and migration policies which permit freedom of movement for capital and for citizens of the global North while denying such freedoms to the citizens of the global South, their governments have allowed employers to take advantage of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees as they attempt to enter the labour market, which has created a migrant and refugee underclass of illegalised, super-exploited, deportable workers – a people without rights.
Migrants, people forced to move from the global South to the global North for reasons of war, conflict, persecution, dispossession and poverty, suffer violations of rights with impunity when they reach the global North regardless of their particular nationality or ethnicity. By virtue of their common experience they can be said to constitute a ‘people’ for the purposes of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (the Algiers Declaration), which provides that every people has a right to existence, and that no one shall be subjected, because of his national or cultural identity, to … persecution, deportation, expulsion or living conditions such as may compromise the identity or integrity of the people to which s/he belongs.
The following sub-articles of Art. 7 of the Rome Statute (crimes against humanity) are relevant to the considerations of the Tribunal: c) Enslavement; d) Forced deportation or transfer of the population; e) Imprisonment and other serious forms of denial of personal freedom in violation of fundamental norms of international law; g) Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution … and other forms of sexual violence of equal seriousness; h) Persecution against a group or a collective possessing their own identity, inspired by reasons of a political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender-based nature; i) Forced disappearances of people; j) Apartheid; k) Other inhuman acts of the same nature aimed at intentionally causing great suffering or serious prejudice to the physical integrity or to physical or mental health.
Other relevant human rights instruments engaged by the indictment include: The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948); The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, the Protocol to Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000); the ILO Migration for Employment Convention (Revised) (1949), all of which have been ratified by EU member states.
Within this framework, the current indictment asks the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal to consider the economic, security, migration and labour policies of the EU and its member states, which together exclude, marginalise and deny basic human rights to poor migrants and refugees both at the borders and within Europe. In the UK, these policies are collectively known as the ‘hostile environment’, policies which have the avowed aim of making life impossible for migrants and refugees who do not have permission to live in the UK, and which remove such migrants from the rights to housing, health, livelihood and a decent standard of living, liberty, freedom of assembly and association, family and private life, physical and moral integrity, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment, and in the final analysis the right to human dignity and to life. The Tribunal will also be requested to examine the legal infrastructure which underlies the ‘hostile environment’, in which migrants and refugees, with or without permission to be in the country, are in practice possessed of no rights, but at best privileges which can be withdrawn at any time.
While the ‘hostile environment’ policies have features particular to the UK, there are parallel provisions in other EU member states, which deny undocumented migrants access to housing, health care, employment and livelihood. Such policies are paradigmatic of the EU-wide treatment of poor migrants and refugees as undesirable and undeserving of human rights. This contempt finds multiple expressions, from the criminalisation of rescue in the Mediterranean, to the maintenance of inhuman and degrading conditions at refugee camps from Moria in Greece to Calais, France. It spreads downwards from government and encourages the growth of more and more extreme anti-immigrant racism and violence.
The note below sets out some of the features of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants developed as policy in the UK since 2012, with their historical roots.
2. Explanatory note: the ‘hostile environment’
In 2012, the UK home secretary Theresa May said that she planned to create a ‘really hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants in the UK, so they would leave the country. In the wake of her announcement, she set up an inter-ministerial ‘Hostile Environment Working Group’ (a title later changed, at the request of coalition partners in government, to ‘Inter-ministerial group on migrants’ access to benefits and public services’, tasked with devising measures which would make life as difficult as possible for undocumented migrants and their families in the UK. The explicit intention is thus to weaponise total destitution and right-lessness, so as to force migrants without the right to be in the country to deport themselves, at low or no cost to the UK.
The policies which this group devised were contained in the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts, in secondary legislation and guidance documents, and in operational measures adopted by the Home Office and partner agencies. They include:
(1) Housing: The ‘right to rent’requires private landlords to perform immigration checks on prospective tenants, their families and anyone else who might be living with them. Landlords renting property are liable to penalties and potentially to imprisonment if someone without permission to be in the UK is found living as a tenant or lodger in their property. The right to rent was piloted in 2014 and was extended throughout the country in 2016, despite an (unpublished) Home Office survey indicating it was not working and was leading to greater racial discrimination in the housing rental market, findings confirmed by civil society organisations and landlords’ associations (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, 2015, 2017).
Those who cannot prove their citizenship or status in the UK, and are unable to access rented property and have ended up homeless and on the streets, include a significant number of pensioners who have lived in the UK since early childhood (the ‘Windrush generation’).
Acts of parliament in 1996 and 1999 had excluded asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and migrants on temporary work visas from homeless persons’ housing and social housing tenancies (the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 created a separate agency to provide destitute asylum seekers with no-choice accommodation outside London and the south-east).
The ‘right to rent’ measures breach the right to adequate housing without discrimination, which is recognised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) Art 25 (as an integral part of the right to an adequate standard of living), and in Art 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), further amplified by General Comment No 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1991). Insofar as homelessless affects human dignity and physical and mental integrity, the measures also breach Art 1 UDHR, Arts 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Arts 1 and 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR).
(2) Health care: A requirement for National Health Service hospital staff to check the immigration status of all those attending for non-emergency treatment, and to demand full payment in advance from those unable to show their entitlement to free treatment, was implemented through regulations which came into force in April 2017. Those unable to establish their lawful status in the UK and those with visitor status are charged 150 per cent of the cost of treatment. Emergency treatment does not require advance payment but patients are invoiced later for it. The regulations followed restrictions on free hospital treatment in 2015, since when those in the UK as students or with work visas have been required to pay an annual health levy (now £400 per person per year).
They have resulted in many expectant mothers not attending for ante-natal treatment, causing lasting damage to their unborn children, and to cancer patients and others with very serious conditions being unable to start treatment for lack of funds.
The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 allowed the NHS to pass on details of patients to the Home Office for enforcement, and informal arrangements for such data sharing were replaced by a formal agreement (MoU) in January 2017. After doctors’ groups such as the British Medical Association (BMA), medical charities including Doctors of the World, campaign groups such as Docs not Cops and members of parliament in the select committee on health called on the government to end the agreement, which was deterring sick people and expectant mothers from seeking medical help, the government announced a partial suspension of the MoU in April 2018.
NHS Regulations had from 1982 onwards provided that visitors to the UK were not entitled to free non-emergency hospital treatment, although NHS staff were not obliged to charge or to perform immigration status checks and most did not. Primary health care (at doctors’ surgeries) remains free to all regardless of status, as attempts by government to extend the charging regime to primary care have met with very strong resistance from NHS and public health workers.
The denial of free hospital treatment to those in need, who cannot prove their immigration status or do not have secure status, and/ or measures which deter people from seeking medical treatment, violate the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief or social or economic condition. It is reflected in the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organisation, in Art 25 UDHR and in Art 12 ICESCR 1966. It also violates the right to physical and mental moral integrity recognized in Art 8 ECHR and Art 3 EUCFR.
(3) Criminalising work The 2016 Immigration Act continued and perfected the process of criminalisation of migrants’ work which had started two decades before, when in 1996, the ban on work for asylum seekers and for those without permission to be in the country began to be enforced by employer sanctions: penalties for employers who employed those without authorisation to work in the UK. While the law was hardly used, it paved the way for much stricter sanctions in 2006, with the creation of a criminal (as opposed to a regulatory) offence of knowingly employing unauthorised workers, which carried a prison sentence; increased regulatory penalties; stricter documentary checks for employers to avoid penalties; and intensive enforcement through raids on mainly small, ethnic-owned workplaces. In 2016, the penalty was doubled to £20,000 per worker, and a new criminal offence of illegal working was created, which enabled undocumented workers’ wages to be confiscated.
Opportunities for legal work in the UK have been closely tailored to the demands of the economy since the post-second world war reconstruction. From the 1971 Immigration Act onwards, unskilled workers from outside the EU were not admitted, apart from groups such as seasonal agricultural workers and domestic workers - temporary workers with no rights of settlement or family unity, controlled entirely by their employers and not permitted to change employer. Asylum seekers were not permitted to work while they waited for their cases to be determined, a process which could take years. Visas for work have largely been restricted to those with a high level of education, qualification and income (and since 2009, under the points-based system, points are also awarded for youth). In 2010, graduates were no longer permitted as before to remain in the UK for two years for post-study work.
As from 2016, too, immigration rules were changed to remove rights to settlement for those earning under £35,000 per year. This measure was introduced so as to ensure that ‘only the brightest and best workers who strengthen the UK economy’ are allowed to settle permanently in the UK; the others are now required to leave the UK after six years. The rationale for the rule changes is thus unashamedly neoliberal and nativist, treating the workers concerned as disposable commodities.
At the same time, while EU nationals have rights to move freely around the EU for work, homeless EU nationals from eastern Europe found sleeping rough in London have had their identity documents confiscated, which prevents them from obtaining employment, and they have found themselves detained and deported for ‘abuse’ of free movement rights.
These measures breach the right to work recognised as universal by Art 23 UDHR, and enshrined in Art 6 ICESCR and Art 15(1) EUCFR.
They should be seen against the background in which the governments and institutions of the EU and of the global North have abdicated their international law obligations to protect workers and ensure decent working conditions and fair pay, enabling the entrenchment of exploitative labour practices and oppressive labour conditions in both the public and the private sector. In the UK, the government has repeatedly refused pay rises to public sector workers while allowing managers to take obscenely high salaries; refused to adopt a genuine living wage; failed to enforce minimum wage and other labour protection vigorously; and has encouraged or condoned companies’ use of zero-hours contracts, their manipulation of ‘self-employed’ status, agency working, undermining of the right to organise and other actions which deny rights and protections to workers and employees.
These acts and omissions breach the right to just and favourable conditions of work protected by Art 23 UDHR, and to freedom, equity, safety and security at work, contrary to the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
(4) Social security and asylum support: Migrants admitted to the UK for visits, work, study or family reunion are subject to a condition of ‘no recourse to public funds’ which prohibits access to means-tested benefits. Since 1999, they have been disqualified by social security regulations from access to any such benefits.
Asylum seekers are eligible to receive about £37 per week (an amount which in 2014 represented around 50 percent of basic income support). The level of support was based on the assumption that the determination period would be around six months, since it was accepted that no one could live on this amount for longer. The period for determination of claims is frequently measured in years rather than months, but the amount has not risen in line with living costs. Support was denied to late and refused claimants in 1996 and again by legislation in 2002. and in 2009 the removal of basic benefits and accommodation was extended to families with children who did not leave the UK when required to. Those eligible for asylum support often have to wait for several weeks or months to obtain it, leaving many homeless and utterly destitute.
In 2007 the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights condemned the level of and exclusions from asylum support as ‘enforced destitution’, which ‘in a number of cases reaches the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment’. It concluded that the ‘deliberate policy of destitution falls below the requirements of the common law of humanity and of international human rights law.’ A 2014 report by IRIS, Poverty among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. An evidence and policy review, found that destitution was a deliberate policy calculated as a deterrent to others considering coming to the UK.
Measures deliberately depriving anyone of the means of life breach Arts 9 and 11 ICESCR (right to social security and to an adequate standard of living), and may also constitute inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Art 5 UDHR, Art 3 ECHR and Art 4 EUCFR.
(5) Education: In June 2015 the Department for Education (DfE) entered an agreement with the Home Office to pass on details of school pupils obtained through the schools census, to enable the Home Office to trace unlawfully staying families for deportation. The agreement, whose aims included the creation of a ‘hostile environment’ in schools, was secret, and only came to light in December 2016, after the DfE added questions on nationality and country of birth to the census. A proposal by the home secretary not to permit children of migrants with irregular status to attend school or to push them to the back of the queue for school places, was rejected by the government. A public campaign by activist group Against Borders for Children, supported by teachers and parents, led to the dropping of the nationality and country of birth questions from the school census in April 2018, but the data sharing agreement remains in force, and campaigners believe it deters those with irregular status from sending their children to school.
Insofar as the measures are calculated to deter parents from sending children to school, they breach the universal right to education without discrimination, recognised by (inter alia) Art 26 UDHR, Arts 13 and 14 ICESCR, Protocol 1 Art 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, (ECHR), Art 14 EUCFR and Art 28 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
(6) Other data sharing measures: Apart from the measures described above in relation to the NHS and schools, the 2016 Immigration Act imposed a general duty on public bodies and others to share data and documents with the Home Office for immigration enforcement. In addition, from January 2018 banks have been obliged to conduct quarterly checks on current account holders and to close accounts of those suspected by the Home Office of unlawful stay. These provisions were suspended in May 2018.
Powers to share data with and to require the provision of information to the Home Office by other government departments and agencies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, marriage registrars and local authorities, were granted by legislation from 1999 on.
From 2009, universities and colleges were obliged to collect and transmit to the Home Office the personal details, attendance, progress and other relevant information on non-EU students enrolled on courses, as well as to check the documents of all staff including visiting lecturers. Failure to monitor students led to suspension and in some cases withdrawal of their licence to enrol non-EU students.
The Data Protection Act 2018 exempts data collected and shared for immigration control purposes from rights of data subjects to access the data held on them, to the extent that disclosure may prejudice immigration control.
These measures disproportionately interfere with rights to privacy (Art 8 ECHR) and data protection (Art 8 EUCFR).
(7) Commercial fees: Home Office fees for visas and their renewal have risen exponentially in recent years, to reflect ‘the value of the product’, which makes applications for settlement, for regularisation or for citizenship prohibitively expensive. An application for settled status for a woman subjected to domestic violence by a spouse costs £2,997; for a dependent relative it now costs £3,250. Children born in the UK, who are entitled to register as British after ten years’ residence, are required to pay a fee of over £1,000, while those arriving in the UK as young children will have to find visa fees, including the health surcharge, amounting to £8,500 over ten years.
Insofar as these high fees prevent migrants from regularizing their status, they interfere with rights to private life protected by Art 8 ECHR and Art 7 EUCFR.
The cumulative effect of the above measures, in particular the denial of the right to work in lawful employment, the exclusion of migrants from all social security benefits and the exorbitant fees for immigration applications, is to drive many migrants into illegal employment, where they are wholly at the mercy of employers, subject to abuses ranging from sexual harassment to non-payment of wages, and with no legal recourse because of their status, violating rights to access to justice and to an effective remedy for the breach of rights (Arts 2, 7 UDHR, Arts 6, 13 ECHR, Art 47 EUCFR). Non-EU workers without regular status are excluded from access to workplace rights, minimum wage and other protections. Women, who make up a high proportion of these workers, are put at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse in addition to other forms of exploitation, which also directly and indirectly affect children and young people.
(8) Family life: Immigration rules were changed in 2012 so that regular migrants from outside the EU who earn under £18,600 are not entitled to have their spouse or partner join them, and they must earn £22,400 to bring a child as well, and a further £2,400 for each additional child.
The rule change was unnecessary, since migrants seeking to bring in family members were already required to show that they could accommodate and support them without recourse to public funds. It is designed to ensure that poor people cannot have family life in the UK.
The ‘deport first, appeal later’ measures in the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts allowed for the removal from the country of migrants who were appealing on the ground that removal would breach their right to respect for their family life, before the appeal was heard.
Many cases have been reported where young children as young as six months old have been separated from their parents by parents’ detention. Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has represented 155 parents separated from their children by detention so far in 2018.
The measures interfere with the right to respect for family life, protected by many human rights instruments including UNCRC and Art 8 ECHR. Interference with family life is only permitted in human rights law if it is lawful and necessary in a democratic society for public safety, the prevention of crime, the protection of the rights of others etc.
(9) Policing and detention: In 2012, Operation Nexus was launched, a joint police-immigration enforcement operation which relied on police intelligence rather than findings of guilt to identify ‘high-harm’ individuals for deportation. The following year, the government launched Operation Vaken, an attempt to frighten undocumented migrants into leaving the country, with billboard vans driving around migrant areas telling them to ‘Go Home! Or face arrest’, simultaneously with an aggressive operation involving immigration checks on minority youths at London tube stations.
Enforcement became an important priority in the late 1990s and 2000s. Enforcement officials grew from 120 in 1993 to 7,500 in 2009, when thousands of aggressive raids on ethnic businesses and homes took place. A notorious operation in 2009, which illustrates the relationship between lack of workplace rights and insecure residence rights, involved an ambush on cleaners at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, who had just won the London living wage following a hard campaign. Invited to an early morning meeting, the cleaners found themselves locked in by immigration officials who checked their entitlement to work in the UK and arrested several for deportation. Despite solidarity actions by students, nine were deported. However the cleaners and their supporters continued their campaign for just treatment and in 2017, they won the right to be employed directly by the school, giving them equal pay and conditions with the school’s other workers.
The UK is the only EU member state where indefinite administrative detention of migrants is legal under domestic law, and many immigration detainees have been locked up for several years. There has been a strong campaign, involving many parliamentarians, for a 28-day detention limit. On many occasions, judges have condemned the lengthy detention of vulnerable people, and several times have ruled it inhuman and degrading.Indefinite detention causes mental illness and severe distress, and has resulted in numerous suicides and episodes of self-harm.
The UK was an early privatiser of immigration detention, with Harmondsworth detention centre run by Securicor in the 1970s. Seven of the eight long-term detention centres (now named ‘immigration removal centres’ or IRCs) are privately run. They are exempt from minimum wage legislation, and in 2018, centre managers refused to increase the pay of detainees doing menial work there from £1 to £1.15 per hour.
These measures violate rights to liberty, proclaimed as a peculiarly British fundamental right and value by judges, and also seen as fundamental in the UDHR and the ECHR; to decent conditions of work (see above); and to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment.
(10) The hostile environment at the borders: As Europe closes its borders to poor migrants and refugees, informal camps have sprung up at the border bottlenecks, where little or no official help has been provided, volunteers seeking to provide help have been criminalised and harsh policing measures have been deployed, including beatings, attacks with dogs, and theft or destruction of belongings. At Calais, where migrants and refugees hoping to cross the Channel to Britain have been arriving since the 1990s, their encampments have been repeatedly destroyed. The big camp known as the ‘jungle’, with makeshift church, school and shops, was bulldozed in October 2016 and police routinely spray sleeping children with tear gas and destroy their tents and sleeping bags, and beat older migrants, while the Calais mayor, seeking to prevent another ‘jungle’ encampment, banned the unauthorised distribution of food and clean water despite diseases such as trench foot developing for lack of clean water. (The ban was overruled by a court which ordered the installation of taps for drinking and washing water.) The UK government contributes to the cost of policing migrants in Calais.
The harsh treatment of those in the encampments and at the borders is inhuman and degrading treatment, contrary to Art 3 ECHR, whose protection is designed to be absolute. Such treatment can never be justified by any policy objective.
3. Specific charges against the UK government (in its own right and as representative of the EU and member states and the global North)
1 Within a work force impoverished and rendered insecure by neoliberal policies, it has ensured that migrant and refugee workers often remain super-exploited, marginalised and deprived of rights by legal and operational measures including:
- Failure (in common with virtually the whole of the global North) to sign or ratify the UN Migrant Workers’ Convention;
- Failure (unlike many other states in the Global North) to ratify the ILO Domestic Workers’ Convention, and the removal of rights and security from domestic workers;
- Legislation imposing employer sanctions for bosses employing undocumented workers, enforced by violent raids on, in particular, small ethnic minority employers, who can be fined up to £20,000 and even imprisoned for employing an undocumented migrant or refugee worker;
- The creation of the criminal offence of illegal working, under the Immigration Act 2016, which allows for the confiscation of workers’ wages;
- The denial and/ or restriction of rights to work for asylum seekers;
- Maintenance of a legal framework which excludes undocumented workers from protection against abuses including non-payment of wages, unfair dismissal and race and sex discrimination, which are particularly rife in the hospitality, leisure, service, agriculture and construction sectors;
- Failure to provide sufficient ongoing funding for the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to enforce decent conditions of work;
- Failure to provide legal aid in employment-related cases, and the removal of public funding for advice and assistance in these cases;
- Failure to ensure complete separation of enforcement visits by GLAA from immigration enforcement;
- Removal of European Economic Area (EAA) nationals who are destitute and who cannot find work;
- The exemption of immigration removal centres from minimum wage legislation, enabling multinational security companies to profit both from the detention contracts and from the cheap labour of detainees.
2. Meanwhile, the government’s policies with regard to immigration and asylum have fostered racism, Islamophobia and nativism, and have deliberately created a ‘hostile environment’ for non-citizens which involves (in addition to the criminalisationof work) enforced destitution, denial of rights to housing and essential medical treatment, indefinite detention and deportation. These policies violate international human rights obligations to protect rights to life, to dignity, to physical and psychological integrity, to respect for private and family life, to liberty, and to protection from forced labour and from inhuman and degrading treatment. This has been achieved through:
- Increasingly restrictive visa policies which limit legal rights to enter and stay in the UK for work (for non-EEA or third-country nationals) to a small and diminishing number of highly qualified or corporate employees, with extortionate fees for issue and renewal;
- Immigration rules and Home Office policy which treat domestic workers as the property of their employers;
- The provision of no-choice, often squalid asylum accommodation to asylum seekers, who are required to live on an impossibly small weekly allowance;
- Legislation requiring private landlords and agents to check immigration status before renting out accommodation;
- Legislation and policy that denies most refused asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants, any benefits or support, as well as any except emergency NHS hospital care;
- The entrenchment of racialised viewpoints about migrants in the control system to the point that people of colour resident for decades are exposed to the suspicion of having no lawful right to reside, denied essential services, and threatened with enforced removal;
- The removal of legal aid for non-asylum immigration cases;
3. The government, by policies which make it impossible to live without working and simultaneously making work illegal, forces vulnerable people to accept conditions of super-exploitation and total insecurity as the price of remaining in the country, and enables private companies to profit from such super-exploitation.
4. Additionally, while EU free movement law recognises the importance of family unity for EEA nationals who move in order to work, the government’s family reunion rules for non-EEA nationals (whether they are admitted as workers or as refugees) are extremely restrictive and result in long-term separation of families.
5. These policies also work to the detriment of the rights of children, who are exposed to risks of exploitation and abuse when they attempt to migrate in their own right, or to hardship and destitution as a consequence of policies which deny public funds support to family migrants.
6. At the same time, the government, in its own right and as an EU member state, facilitates the making of vast profits by security corporations through contracts for the border security regime, the housing of asylum seekers and for the detention and deportation of migrants, while overlooking or condoning brutality, racism and other human rights violations, criminal offences, fraud and negligence, committed by their agents against migrants and refugees, in fact rewarding them through the continuing award of such contracts.
Questions for the Tribunal
The Tribunal is asked to consider the cumulative effect of all these measures, policies and operations taken together, in creating and maintaining a people without rights within Europe and at its borders.
- To the extent that the Tribunal finds the above violations proved, how to they fit with the general pattern of violations found by the Tribunal in its hearings at Barcelona, Palermo and Paris?
- How does the creation and maintenance of a rightless people sit with the pretensions of Europe to be a cradle of universal human rights and values and with the human rights instruments written, signed and ratified by European states?
- How does the continued tolerance of the suffering of those condemned as rightless affect the rule of law?
- Since the protection of fundamental human rights is designed to embrace both the executive and juridical arms of state, to what extent does the treatment of migrants destroy this bridge between the political and the juridical?
- To what extent can are migrants experimental subjects or guinea-pigs for a broader destruction of the rights of populations under globalisation?
- How do government policies and ministerial statements treating poor migrants and refugees as ‘benefit tourists’, ‘health tourists’, ‘a swarm’, help to exacerbate popular racism and encourage hatred of migrants and racial violence?
- Has the Tribunal found examples of resistance against these measures which can act as models or markers for future action?
 Insofar as the ILO Migration for Employment Convention and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights’ requirements of decent and safe working conditions apply only to workers lawfully on the territory, these instruments themselves unjustifiably and wrongly entrench the exclusion of undocumented migrants from rights recognised as universal.