Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Australian Version Of 'Delit De Solidarite'?

It looks highly likely that Australia will soon introduce their own version of the French Article 622, commonly known as Delit de Solidarite or 'Offence of Solidarity'. A secret deal appears to have been concluded between the Rudd government and the Liberal opposition to bring in a criminal offence of supporting people smuggling. Thus even anyone offering humanitarian assistance to say a boat of migrants that got in trouble, such as the captain of the MV Tampa did for 438 Afghans trying to reach Australia in 2001 but whose boat was sinking, would be liable to 10 years in prison. Needless to say news of the putative law leaking has provoked outrage amongst refugee support groups and legal advice groups. The new law will back up a new high-profile IT system called WebMethods which aims to collate all potential sources of information from Customs, other government and external IT systems to identify people-smugglers and other 'border threats'.

Invisible Victims

The plight pf migrants in Mexico, who face what has been labelled as the 'most dangerous journey in the world', is highlighted in the latest Amnesty International report 'Invisible victims - Migrants on the move in Mexico'. According to Amnesty International's Mexico Researcher, Rupert Knox:

Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis, with virtually no access to justice and the constant fear of reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses.

Persistent failure by the authorities to tackle the abuses carried out against irregular migrants, has made the journey through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world.

The vast majority of these migrants are travelling through Mexico from Central Americans on their way to the US border in search of work. The National Human Rights Commission has said that nearly 10,000 of them were abducted over a six month period in 2009, with almost half of victims they interviewed saying that public officials were involved in their kidnap. An estimated six out of ten migrant women and girls also experience sexual violence.

On 23 January 2010, armed police stopped a freight train carrying over 100 migrants in Chiapas State, southern Mexico. Migrants on the train then claim that Federal Police forced them to lie face down on the ground. They then stole their belongings and threatened to kill them unless they continued their journey by foot along the railway.

After walking for hours, the group was assaulted by armed men who raped some of the women and killed at least one of the migrant group. Two suspects were later detained after a local activist helped the migrants file a complaint but no action was taken against the Federal Police, despite migrants identifying two officers as having been involved.

Stop Deportation Info Day

The Stop Deportation Network presents:

An Info Day & Fundraiser on the Deportation Machine

Saturday 15 May @ the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton.

2-6pm Workshops: the Deportation Machine, the companies that profit from it and how to campaign against them / Frontex - the European Union borders managing agency.
Film on Frontex and short introduction to the Brussels No Border Camp
6-8pm Fundraiser Vegan meal. £4
9pm-2am Benefit gig - live reggae & gypsy bands. £3 suggested donation (members and guests only)

For more info contact:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Arizona Backlash Begins

Protesters chanting "no deportations today" blockaded the federal detention centre in Broadview, Illinois this morning, preventing a van of deportees leaving for Chicago O'Hare airport 20km to the East. The action is part of a country-wide series of protests against Arizona's new immigration law, with many of the 300 who people demonstrated at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility camping out overnight prior to beginning their dawn blockade.

Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, which is due to come into force in the summer, will effectively enshrine 'racial profiling' into state law as it allows the police to stop and question anyone they suspect is an 'illegal' immigrant and demand paperwork (visa, passport, green card, etc.) to 'prove' their immigration status. Currently they can only do that if the person is suspected of participating in criminal activity.

Whilst only classified as a misdemeanour rather than felony crime, it will still carry a fine of $500-2,500 or up to 6 months imprisonment and potential deportation by federal authorities. Day labourers will also be banned from gathering on the side of highways as they currently do touting for work as they and anybody who stops to hire them or pick them up is also breaking the law. The law also allows for private citizens to bring civil actions against state officials or agencies that they consider are not enforcing the law vigorously enough!

Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, has condemned the new law and warned that relations with the border state will suffer as a result and already a boycott of the state has started from amongst others the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who have cancelled their Autumn convention which was due to be held there. Also prominent amongst those organising boycotts is the teamster union whose trucker members are refusing to deliver goods to the state.

Threat To Oakington Inquest

Cambridge Migrant Solidarity have claimed that actions of the UK Borders Agency in trying to speed up the deportation of detainees involved in the recent disturbance at Oakington IRC could adversely affect the outcome of the inquest into the death of a 40-year-old Kenyan man that sparked the trouble. Approximately 60 of the detainees who took part in protests, some of whom could be potential witnesses at any inquest, were 'singled out' as ringleaders and to other more secure detention centres.

Some are believed to be potential witnesses into the circumstances leading up to the death of the man, tentatively identified as Eliud Nyenzi, from an apparent heart attack. It has been alleged that staff at Oakington ignored his requests for a doctor even though he was in obvious pain. One witnesses, Sunny Idika, was with the dead man in the hours before his death, was due to be deported to Nigeria yesterday but his removal was postponed due to his property not having been returned to him following his move from Oakington.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Call for a European Week of Action Against the Deportation Machine

Call for a European Week of Action Against the Deportation Machine
1st - 6th June 2010

Deportation has become an integral part of the European immigration regime. Hundreds of refugees and migrants are forcibly deported everyday for doing what humans have done for thousands of years: moving in search of a better life, escaping poverty, abuse, discrimination, persecution, war and so on. The right of everyone to travel and live where they want is denied for those with the 'wrong' skin colour, passport or bank account. They are treated like 'criminals' and incarcerated in special prisons disguised under various euphemisms (removal centres, guest houses and so on). Racist and sexual abuse and physical violence at the hands of immigration officers and private security guards are institutionalised by legitimising the use of force in deportation operations. Even the more vulnerable among migrants facing detention and deportation, such as children and torture survivors, are treated with humiliation instead of being offered help and support.

Behind deportations lies a mixture of racism, nationalism and imperialism in a global capitalist context: whilst capital and the nationals of the EU and other 'first world' countries are free to travel wherever they want, those on the wrong side of artificially erected borders, whose countries are often torn apart by these very privileged Europeans and their capitalist and imperial conquests, are made illegal, criminalised and prevented from exercising their fundamental rights. They simply cease to be people; they become 'illegal immigrants', 'over-stayers' and 'failed asylum seekers' who can be dispensed with when their exploited labour is no longer needed or when they stand up for their rights. As a consequence, common struggles and communities are divided and a culture of suspicion and surveillance prevails.

When it comes to deportation orders, the causes of migration are also conveniently forgotten about. Western-manufactured weapons and armed conflicts, wars of aggression in pursuit of oil and other natural resources, repressive regimes backed by our democracy-loving governments, climate change and land grabs... they can all be traced back here, to our capitalist economies, consumerist lifestyles and imperial interests. Anti-deportation is not a 'single issue campaign' and people choose or are forced to migrate for a variety or reasons.

To operate a deportation flight, European governments contract a range of private and semi-private bodies to do the dirty work for them. Airlines are a key link in the deportation machine. Not only are they one of the major contributors to the progressive killing of the planet, many airline companies are also happy, in their pursuit of profit, to fly people to their possible death, both individually and en masse. Other profiteers include companies providing transport and escort services during forcible deportations and multinational security companies, such as Serco and G4S, that manage immigration prisons and carry out deportations on behalf of immigration authorities.

Then there are those shadowy, unaccountable, inter-governmental agencies, such as the EU external border agency (Frontex) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), whose role has become more and more prominent in recent years as European governments seek to carry out deportations through joint coordinated 'operations'. This not only saves them money but also, by putting deportations in the hands of a regional or international body, pushes accountability to another level away from national governments and immigration authorities. Indeed, Frontex has recently assumed extra powers to charter mass deportation flights on behalf of European governments, buy equipment and explore satellite technology to monitor the 'EU borders'. After all, a racist, imperial super-state like Fortress Europe needs a mercenary army like Frontex to protect its artificial borders.

Deportees, including families and children, are often handcuffed and accompanied by security guards as if they were 'dangerous criminals' (the label 'criminal', as used by those in power, is problematic anyway). There have been numerous reports of physical assaults and racial and sexual abuse suffered by deportees at the hands of immigration officers and private 'escorts' during individual and mass deportations. Proposals to have 'human rights monitors' on deportation flights, as recently recommended by a senior EU commissioner, may prevent some of these practices but will also legitimise the brutality of deportation itself.

We realise that resistance against deportation is continuous and not confined to days or weeks of action: people trying to cross the border in the most dangerous conditions everyday; hunger strikes and riots in immigration prisons; deportees and sympathetic passengers refusing to sit down quietly on board inconspicuous planes; communities coming together to defend their members; regular protests and actions against various parts of the deportation machine... Yet, more needs to be done as thousands of people continue to be forcibly deported everyday.

We are calling upon all concerned individuals and groups throughout Europe to join us in a decentralised, coordinated week of action against the deportation machine in the first week of June 2010. We are calling upon migrants and refugees and their supporters inside and outside Europe to organise their own actions and protests during this week in a united cry:


Friday, 23 April 2010

As The Dust Settles

It has been instructive watching the way the media in the UK, and those who were actually caught up in the ‘chaos’, have reacted to the consequences of the suspension of air travel in Western Europe courtesy of Eyjafjallajokull, have reacted to the inability to travel as of where and when one expects and desires. After all this is one’s ‘right’ if one has the correct passport, the money and, above all, the expectation to be allowed to “pass freely without let or hindrance”.

Instead, travellers found themselves stuck at internal (airports and train stations) and external (ports) borders unable to proceed, to get to where they wanted to be. They found themselves, when they could not afford the hotel bills, having to rough it: sleeping in uncomfortable and often increasingly squalid conditions, on floors and in chairs (the modern equivalent of the park bench?) in departure lounges, wherever they could or were allowed to doss down and wait for the opportunity to proceed; unable to shower and having to wear the same clothes for days on end.

And, of course, the major trope of the UK media coverage was the stoic British / ’Dunkirk’ spirit: the endless queuing and resigned complaining; the polite exasperation at bureaucracy and the lack of information; and the apparent propensity of the (largely European) businesses to seize the opportunity to ‘profiteer’ and make a quick Euro by putting up the price of dwindling resources such as hotel rooms, hire cars, train and ferry tickets was one of the subtexts.* Fortunately, that picture that was counterbalanced by the large number of people interviewed who chose to highlight the positive nature of their experiences, the solidarity and general helpfulness of others and the sheer liberatory adventure of having boring routine existence confounded.

However, from the viewpoint of those of us involved in the struggle against borders and who understand the futility of the concept of the ‘nation state’, the most astonishing and overtly hypocritical feature of the media’s coverage of the whole episode was what occurred in Calais, that transport-bottleneck between continental Europe (and ‘Johnnie Foreigner’) and ‘home’ (‘Dear Old Blighty’).

First, we had the bizarre sight of some minor BBC celebrity deciding to try and do his very minor bit to try and revive the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ (sic) by taking a handful of inflatable speedboats across the Channel to ‘liberate’ ‘stranded’ UK passengers supposedly stuck on the other side of the water (just what he expected to achieve by shuttling a few dozen people back to Dover when the ferries manage to carry tens of thousands of passengers a day is a bit hard to fathom, but that’s celebrities for you!). Only to be frustrated by the collective deadweight of Border bureaucracy, as the Calais port officials (after apparently initially OK’ing the enterprise, only to have second, and probably job-saving, thoughts) passed the buck up the bureaucratic command chain till the Prefect of the Pas de Calais vetoed the whole scheme and the combined Stuka squadrons of EU border policy sank his little ego-fuelled enterprise.

The other vomit-inducing spectacle was the endless shots, hourly updated just in case we failed to grasp the apparent monumental significance (or maybe it was purely one of those endless non-news creating side effects of the 24 hour news experience?) of more bloody Brits queuing for tickets, this time for an average 3 hours we were helpfully informed, in order to get on a Calais-Dover ferry. And to top it all, the Red Cross, who many years before had run another less favourably received humanitarian project in the area called Sangatte, was out in force, handing out cups of tea and emergency blankets to combat the overnight cold to the endless line of people snaking across the ferry terminal car park, as they slowly made their way to the ticket office windows, only 3 of which were open we were also helpfully told (it’s amazing the fact one accumulates from watching 24 hour news).

Now, not demeaning in any way the trauma some people experienced whilst having their comfortable and ordered lives so disrupted by the suspension of air travel for a few days, but the errant hypocrisy of this non-epic saga (the only good think we can say about it is that it cleared the airwaves of some of the interminable coverage of the election) was mind boggling in the extreme.

Has no one noticed the irony that the few days of discomfort experienced by a bunch of privileged Westerners, temporarily stranded on the journey to England by the Calais ‘bottleneck’, occurred in precisely the same town that has been the host of a very different, and largely untold, story of the discomfort (and more) for a group of people also stranded on their journey to England by exactly the same barrier?

Except they have often been stranded for years rather than days and their barrier has added 4m high double fences topped with razor wire to contend with, plus a massive security operation armed with EU laws, CO2 and infra red detectors, sniffer dogs, Eurodac, Schengen, etc. All policed by hundreds of borders guards, CRS and PAF cops; subjected to routine tear-gassing whilst one sleeps in the ‘Jungles’, the sort of shanty town structures that would never pass muster in even the worst fevala; to casual officially-sanctioned brutality, arrest and overnight detention; evictions, theft and destruction of ones personal property; not to mention the exploitation by the trafficking gangs who control the truck-stops and lay-bys and who are more than willing to main or even kill anyone who crosses them (one of the inevitable problems of criminalising a whole class of people is that one renders them open to exploitation by the only people they can turn to themselves for any form of ‘help’, criminals).

And then there is the sort of maiming and killing, that which occurs because of the extremes that these marginalized and desperate people are driven to in order to get to where they want to be, injuries and death in the backs or under the wheels of lorries and on the train tracks in the Channel Tunnel, just the sort of thing that happened to a 16 years old Afghan named Ramahdin just day before the volcano erupted. On April 11 he was hiding under a lorry that was boarding a ferry at Loon-Plage just up the coast from Calais but was found crushed to death. His repatriated body was then caught up in the air traffic chaos at a German airport en route back to Afghanistan.

Yes, these people, refugees from their own countries, are driven to do desperate and dangerous things. Driven by fear of persecution, by desperation and poverty. They have been displaced by Western-led wars fought in their homelands, by Western-inspired post-colonial structural debt-induced poverty; by environmental degradation created by multinational mining company operations or IMF-financed dam building and by civil wars in which both sides have been armed by the same Western arms companies. They have been lured westwards by the global hegemony of the Hollywood lifestyle, Rolex watches and Versace jeans (the modern equivalent of 40 acres and a mule, except in reverse, luring people into a form of slavery), to realise Dick Whittington’s dream in a land where the streets are supposed to be paved with gold.

Where are the stories of their epic journeys, which sometimes take years; tales of the circuitous routes that they have had to take to try and get where they wanted to be, to a new safer ‘home’. Where is the outrage at the exorbitant prices they had to pay (often with their own lives) to get there, only to find themselves stuck in limbo, unable to ultimately get where they most want to be because they were born in the wrong place and have the wrong passport/visa/skin colour? And this untold story is not just happening in Calais. It is the same, if not worse, in Ceuta, Melilla, Libya, Turkey, the Canaries, Malta, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Mexico, etc. The list is almost endless.

But hey! Let’s look on the bright side. At least the people ‘stranded’ by Eyjafjallajokull’s dust clouds, when they finally did get to take the journey across the Channel to England, whether it was by ferry or Eurostar, didn’t travel terrified by the fear that their long, torturous journey may all have been in vain, that they might be caught by Border guards once they reached the ‘green and promised land’ and be deported back to some detention centre hell-hole in mainland Europe, or even worse, back to a war zone or somewhere where they face the fear of torture or death.

Unfortunately, it seems that some travel stories are far less newsworthy and will not be preserved in anyone’s album of treasured holiday snapshots.

* Hints of “bloody foreigners, you just can’t trust them”?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Answers Demanded About Death Of Detainee At Oakington

Eliud Nguli Nyenze, a 40 year old Kenyan man, died at Oakington Immigration Removal Centre on 15 April.

This press release is issued by Cambridge Migrant Solidarity, a group of Cambridgeshire residents concerned about the welfare of people detained in relation to their immigration status, and opposing the policy of detention of immigrants.


Deep concerns have been raised by the death of a man in Oakington last week as detainees talk of mistreatment and medical neglect. This is contrary to official reports which are not treating the death as suspicious. Detainees inside the centre have been in contact with Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS) following a solidarity demo by Cambridge residents on Sunday 18th April.

Reports from inside the centre suggest that the Kenyan man who died on Thursday the 15th April was denied medical attention and that he died after an ambulance called by fellow detainees had been turned away from the centre by detention centre staff.

CMS has been told by detainees that disruption inside the centre took place as shocked friends of the man who died tried to prevent his body being removed from the detention centre, fearing a cover-up and demanding that the circumstances surrounding his death, particularly the denial of medical treatment, required independent public investigation. The extent of the protest is unclear, however reports from inside suggest that detainees did not attempt to escape and that guards were not hurt during this incident (this is contrary to Home Office statements). It is said that riot police were called into the centre and that 60 detainees were, in many cases arbitrarily, arrested and/or removed; many were not involved in the protest. Those closest to the dead man were all removed from the centre and cannot now be contacted. CMS have been told that some of those arrested have been taken to prison in Birmingham.

The sister of one of the men reportedly transferred to prison in Birmingham has told CMS that she has not been able to speak with her brother for several days, but has today been told by her brother’s lawyer (who has been in touch with Immigration officials) that her brother is in prison because ‘there is nowhere else for them to go’ and that this is ‘just to calm the situation’ and that ‘they shouldn’t really be there’, the lawyer is demanding the immediate release of this man.

There are reports that during these arrests, some detainees may have been injured by the police, and that some of those arrested and removed had clearly not been involved in the disruption, at least one of those arrested is also known to be extremely vulnerable.

Since then many of those left inside the centre are saying that they have been issued with removal directions (that is they have been told that tickets have been bought for their deportation, and they have been given removal dates, but not told airlines or flight times) despite on-going legal cases. All the guards have been changed and replaced with larger male guards. One of the blocks (Block 20 - arrivals block) has been shut down and is now empty (contradicting claims that ‘there is nowhere else’ for detainees to go).

Detainees have expressed fears in speaking out on this as they risk punishment or jeopardising their cases.

CMS are following on from this by making serious complaints into:

1. The man’s death on Thursday 15th April.
2. The wrongful arrests and injuries to those involved in protest and those not involved in protest.
3. Men issued tickets to leave without time to complete full legal representation and concern for deportation without adequate legal representation of those now detained in prison.


1. On Thursday 15 April 2010 a detainee at Oakington succumbed to an unknown medical condition, leading to widespread protest at the centre by other detainees. As a result the police were called in to end the protests and many detainees have since been taken to prisons, without charges or a trial. The death is not being officially treated as suspicious.

2. On Sunday 19th April 25 Cambridge residents protested outside of the centre.
Print quality photographs of the protest outside the Oakington centre are available for publication on request (contact 07879 972 629).

3. Oakington is managed by a private security company G4S on behalf of the UK Border Agency.

4. The latest report, in 2008, by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons about the Oakington centre was extremely critical of the running of the centre, including that "Neither staff nor managers appeared to take an interest in the individual circumstances and concerns of detainees. For example, they appeared unaware of the fact that they had been holding a Chinese man for nearly two years." The full report is available at:

5. Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS) is group of Cambridgeshire residents concerned about the welfare of people detained in relation to their immigration status, and opposing the policy of detention of immigrants.

6. Previous Cambridge Migrant Solidarity actions include a protest outside the Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, on Mothers Day, 14 March 2010, in solidarity with women and men on hunger strike, detained inside the centre.

7. The sister of the detained man quoted above is happy to speak to the press, other detainees are also be willing to give statements.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Merak Seige Ends

The six month long stand off in Merak Harbour between the Tamils on board the Jaya Lestari 5 and the Indonesian authorities appears to finally have come to an end today. The wooden boat was towed into the West Javan harbour last October after being intercepted by the Indonesian navy but the occupants refused to come ashore until they had received assurances that they would receive a similar deal to that agreed with the MV Oceanic Viking refugees. The survived the monsoon season and various attempts to get off the boat, all to no avail till now.

On the 7 April they were issued with an ultimatum that if they did not voluntarily leave the boat within 5 days force would be used to remove them. The men vowed to resist any attempts at forcible removal, moving back on to the boat from the tented village dockside that they had occupied as relief from the foetid conditions on board. However, announcement of the Australian Government's decision to suspend new refugee applications for Afghans and Sri Lankans prompted at least 30 of the men to jump ship and disappear.

Tense negotiations continued well past the deadline and no end appeared in sight until this morning (Java Time), when coaches arrive dockside and an unknown number of remaining Tamils began to board. The were taken to Jakarta airport and will be flown to the Australian-funded Tanjung Pinang detention centre on the Riau Islands. Their chances of gaining refugee status and making it to Australia appear very thin, given the UN's current stance that Sri Lanka is now 'safe' to return Tamils to and the posturing of all Australian politicians as their election approaches.

Its The Economy Stupid

So, what has the IPPR study into electoral support for the BNP and its relationship to social factors? Well not a lot really. Anybody with an ounce of intelligence will already have known that the core support for the BNP is amongst the 'white working class'. However, the fact is that the areas they have in the past chosen to target in their election campaigns have been where they have hoped that the presence of 'immigrant' populations and disaffected 'white working class' voters would be the correct explosive mixture to push up their 'share' of the vote.

The big problem is that everyone knows that the fear of 'the other' no longer remains when one has met, lived alongside and interacted with 'the other' on a daily basis. Hence the IPPR's result. The study however completely ignores the real big problem, that the increased presence of the BNP and their ilk on the streets during and after an election (if the local community is unfortunate enough to be lumbered with a BNP councillor) directly results in an increased level of violence and intimidation aimed against so-called ethnic minorities. Just check out the crime statistics.

The scapegoating of migrants, whether it is by the BNP, the Tories, Nu Labour or whoever, only serves to justify the violence and inhumane behaviour meted out to migrants everywhere: on the streets of Barking and Dagenham or Oldham, in detention centres like Oakington and Yarl's Wood, or in the back of vans transporting people handcuffed between security guards to airports. Targeting those with no voice, those who lack the ability to fight back, is the action of the bigot and the bully, racist or otherwise.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Europe's Dirty Secret

In today's Guardian there is an article entitles 'Europe's Dirty Secret' about the plight of refugees trapped in Melilla, a small autonomous Spanish city, nominally part of Málaga province, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Morocco. There hundreds of Africans are trapped on both the city and Moroccan sides of the three 6m high parallel fences, decorated with motion sensors, cameras and watchtowers, trying to make it to the 'promised land' of Europe. Many are stateless and have no papers. Others have managed to get themselves issued with papers from the UNHCR, confirming their refugees status, but it does them little or no good as they cannot cross into the Spanish territory. Some try but are shot by the border guards. Others make it but then find themselves trapped in Melilla, just as in Ceuta to the west, unable to legally cross to the Spanish mainland.

Next month No Borders Brighton just happen to have planned an info evening and fundraiser that will highlight the situation in Melilla and Ceuta and the similar humanitarian crisis that exists in Libya since the introduction of the Italian 'push back' policy.

Solidarity Demonstration At Oakington Immigration Removal Centre

Sunday 18th April, between 12 noon and 2:00 pm

Called by Cambridge Migrant Solidarity

In the early hours of Thursday morning this week a 40 year old detainee died at Oakington immigration prison (just outside Cambridge). While the cause is not known, other detainees reported that he had been refused medical attention despite complaining of feeling unwell on Wednesday. One source told the Guardian newspaper that the man, who is thought to have had a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen "crawling around the floor in pain" before he died. The source claimed the man's pleas for help were refused by staff at the centre, which is run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.

Cambridge Migrant Solidarity will be holding a demonstration in solidarity with the detainees in Oakington this Sunday between 12 noon and 2pm. If you would like to join people cycling from Cambridge, meet on Parkside (next to Parker's Piece), by coach bay 16 at 10am. There will be transport available for people from Cambridge leaving from the same meet up point at Parkside at 10:30am. There will be transport available for people travelling from outside Cambridge, leaving from Cambridge train station at 11:30. Please call or text 078 7979 3739 now, if you would like transport at either time, so we can make sure we arrange enough to get everyone there. There are no public transport services near the Removal Centre (it is not in Oakington village).

We want to make sure the detainees at Oakington know that they are not alone, and that there are people outside who care about the dreadful situation they are in. So, please bring drums, megaphones, horns, whistles and anything else that will make us heard inside.

Please join us on Sunday, and show the innocent people imprisoned at Oakington are not alone.

Cambridge Migrant Solidarity

Enquiries/further information: 078 7979 3739

UKBA Take Their Oakington Revenge

As part of the Home Office's typical response to any detainee who decided to challenge the way they are being treated, 60 people who took part in Thursday's protests at Oakington were labelled as 'ringleaders' and forcibly removed to other detention centres on Friday night. It is to be assumed that many will end up in the more high security conditions of Brook House and Colnbrook and pushed up the deportations waiting list as part of their punishment for daring to protest at the inhumane condition in UK detention prisons.

Ringleader - OED definition: (noun) A person who initiates or leads an illicit or illegal activity.

So a third of the estimated 180 people who took part in Thursday's protests were considered to be 'ringleaders' by the UKBA! Obviously an interesting new use of the word that we have not come across before.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Oakington Detention Centre Disturbance

There were day-long protests and a stand-off between immigration detainees and police at Oakington IRC yesterday following the death, currently presumed to be from heart attack, of a 40-year-old Kenyan man yesterday. More than 180 detainees, in their collective anger over what they claimed was a preventable death, broke through the gates of one of the detention centre's compounds* and occupied a courtyard, preventing police and coroners officials entering the room where the man's body lay.

Police riot squads and Prison Service 'Tornado' teams arrived in large numbers throughout yesterday morning, and a tense stand-off between the protesters and a police negotiation team ensued. The detainees threatened to start a hunger strike to protest at the detention centre's lack of care. The dead man had apparently pleaded with G4S staff at the privately run immigration prison for a doctor and painkillers, but staff refused his requests. Oakington is an ex-RAF based that was slated to close in 2006 but remains open with currently no new date announced for its closure.

* Not 'smashed down' the gates as the out-of-breath Cambridge News reporter claims.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Going back to the '98% of all jobs created under Nu Labour went to bloody foreigners' non-story, we have tried rehashing the statistics and have come up with a different story:

'More than half of all new jobs go to indigenous population'* In a shock turn of events, it has been discovered that around 1.38 million or 50.3 percent of the new jobs created since 1997 have been taken by British nationals. During the same period the number of UK born nationals employed in the country has risen by 791,000 to 25.26 million. This has meant that the employment rate for British nationals has remained steady through out that period, at 73.5 percent. So, despite the fluctuation in the number of jobs available due to massive de-industrialisation, firms closing or moving their businesses abroad and job losses due to the global downturn. Or the changes in the population due to births and deaths, and to people entering and leaving the country, nothing much has really changed.

Some of you may have noticed another fabricated non-story in the yellow press, this one retreading the myth of non-English speakers outnumbering children with English as their first language in schools across the country. We have dealt with this before but just in case you haven't come across the arguments, check out Five Chinese Crackers for a dissection of the Mail, Express and Telegraph's racist delusions.

* We apologise profusely for the use of that vomit-inducing term and for the use of terms containing the word 'nation'.

Nauseating In The Extreme

No doubt Frank Field was nodding his head in agreement as he read the coverage of the letter to Brown, Cameron and Clegg from the Peterborough councillors bemoaning the fact that 'Migration is ruining our peaceful city'. The yellow press certainly salivated over the story, and none more so than the Daily Mail. But if one actually looks at what the two councillors are really communicating is nostalgia for a lost halcyon age:

Bobbies on bicycles; a community which "lived in peace and harmony", where "there was parental choice in education with school places. There was no homelessness. There were no problems with registering at the local doctors for health services."

"We had four police houses in the ward years ago. Everyone knew and respected the local constable. Now we have muggings, robberies, burglaries and neighbour disputes. We have prostitutes, drug dealers and an ever-increasing number of people who drive without road tax or insurance." There are towns and villages up and down the country where there is not a 'black' face to be seen or where the only Pole is the one danced around in May, yet their police houses closed down decades ago.

These problems have absolutely nothing to do with immigration and for the councillors to try and link all these problems to the people lured to their area as cheap farm labour is totally disingenuous to put it mildly. To blame the fact that local "housing waiting lists have rocketed and our homeless hostels are full" on migrants rather than the Tory and Labour schemes to sell off almost all council housing is delusional. But hey, it's not a vote winner to do otherwise.

The letter of course gave the Mail and the rest of the yellow press the (unneeded) opportunity to run all the usual vile racist myths and caricatures:

Czech mothers "who arrived in Peterborough two weeks ago" with her seven children and who speaks "in broken English" jumping the housing queue. "Outside the kitchen door there are grubby children's clothes and some beer cans." A husband who "is claiming the Jobseekers' allowance. Back in our country he was a school cleaner, but in Peterborough they say there are no vacancies."
"14, 15 and 16-year-old girls who have arrived from Slovakia and Lithuania to come in pregnant or wanting fertility advice." The staff at a local doctors surgery "suspect they want babies because they know it will lead to a house and child benefits."
The myth of immigrants "killing swans to eat and are also preying illegally on fish" - "Local anglers claimed ' legally-protected swans' were being 'butchered' by immigrants who are 'raping' the city's waterways by snaring the birds, battering them to death with iron bars and roasting them on open fires on the bank of the River Nene."*
"People sleep rough in derelict houses, alleyways, garden sheds or under crude shelters made of wood and plastic sheeting in the parks - anywhere they can find a place to rest their weary heads at night."

Really, the hypocrisy just gets worse and worse: "While it should be stressed that many of the new arrivals work very hard for low wages - doing jobs local people are not prepared to do - there are many who have quickly learned how to work the benefits system. Each day at 1pm, when the Inland Revenue Office at Hereward House opens, a queue of girls speaking foreign tongues snakes down the road. Their buggies and prams crowd the pavement as they wait to sign on for tax credits and child benefits - as they are entitled to under EU law."

The Mail reporter (Sue Reid) on the trail of all these dirty foreigners (over here stealing our houses, jobs and women) even had the audacity to try and intervene with her own form of citizen's arrest (to no avail):

"This week, I saw two uniformed UK Border Agency officers (plus a policeman and two Peterborough Council staff) search three empty properties in Thistlemoor Road. They found no one. Yet the stench of urine inside, the abandoned bed clothes on the floor and a pile of unwashed cups in the kitchen sinks was proof someone had been staying there until very recently. When I pointed out that three penniless and jobless Slovakians were living in a property just along the street, the officers got in their cars and drove away. As a result, Ivan, 37, Monica, 30, and Vadim, 42, managed to escape detection. Inside a shabby, boarded up house, they have made a home. There are two single beds and a couple of dirty rugs on the concrete floor downstairs. Through the rotting roof you can see the sky. "We came here 20 days ago," says Monica, with tears in her eyes. "I worked yesterday for the first time - getting £10 for doing cleaning at a house." "We have nothing apart from what we have found on rubbish tips. We try to keep clean and have bought a few bars of soap. The only thing I have eaten today is a bag of grapes.""

So the three people she tried to grass up she had already interviewed and knew how badly off they were but you can bet your bottom dollar that she wasn't turning them in so as to make sure they got a proper roof over their heads and a decent meal inside them.

Her next comment aptly shows up her complete lack of understanding and human solidarity: "Why Ivan, Monica and Vadim have left home and journeyed across Europe to live such a squalid existence is hard to understand." Exactly.

The Mail has really surpassed even their greatest excesses in xenophobic barrel-scraping reportage with this piece of thinly disguised racist vitriol, packing so many ignorant right-wing cliches into one article that it probably manages to even trump the whole of the Express' election campaign anti-immigration carpet-bombing offensive.

* This one even gets the the pro-blood sports Mail hypocritically playing the animal welfare card: "Witnesses say migrants camping in woods are using inhumane methods to kill fish, such as long lines with multiple hooks, which are left in the water overnight and cause a slow and painful death."


That even the Times can come out with the stupidest of this election's clichés 'Immigration: the 'silent' election issue' beggars belief. What planet are these journalists on? Few actual politicians may be spending more than a few passing seconds on the subject of immigration (i.e. as few as they can get away with), the yellow press have been talking about little else.*

The big problem is that when the main parties do talk about immigration they inevitably play into the hands of the overtly-racist right, and especially the BNP, and a number of voices are being raised questioning this policy.

* Frank Field article was even titled 'Why is there no talk about immigration?' What he really meant is 'Why is nobody agreeing with my views on immigration?'


Interestingly, the Times printed the day before what has probably been the most useful piece of coverage of immigration in the whole of the election campaign. It was entitled: 'Q&A: the facts about immigration.' Check it out.

Yes We Know We Said We Wouldn't Comment On The Election Again...


Frank Field has been doing his 'Enoch Powell lite' act again, claiming that there will be 'rivers of blood' in the street unless immigration becomes a central issue in the election campaign.

He claims that: "The economy and immigration are the two big issues that voters wish to see debated at this election. The economy has already featured in the clashes between the main parties. But, despite brief mentions in the manifestos, immigration is the issue that dare not speak its name." Well we all know why that is. As Michael Ashcroft and his document 'Smell the Coffee' have ably pointed out, bringing up immigration as a 'national' issue is a vote looser but is a sure-fire tub-thumper at the local. Just look at any Conservative constituency leaflet, not just Andrew Rosindell's (though the Romford MP and ex-Monday Clubber is a serial offender, having asked more than a hundred questions on immigration and asylum since his election in 2001).

In fact all the parties are pursuing their own local anti-immigration strategies, especially where their potential share of the vote may be eaten into by avowedly racist parties such as the BNP and UKIP. Even MPs who are jumping the sinking Labour ship at this election are doing their bit to stir the already murky waters. On Monday James Purnell, who has fallen on his sword following last summer's failed palace coup and decided that a job in community politics with London Citizens offers him a better place to build a power base, made the outrageous statement that "the welfare state is a birthright and politics needs to reflect that." Thus immigrants will need to 'earn the right' to welfare benefits by paying in a certain amount to state coffers.

Beveridge envisaged a system of 'from cradle to grave' protection paid for by a system of compulsory insurance but access to those universal benefits have never been solely dependent on how much one has already paid in. If it were the case, children would have been denied access to the NHS and those that have never been able to work, and therefore pay sufficient tax to 'earn their right', through no fault of their own would have been denied that 'from cradle to grave' protection. An outrageous suggestion hardly worthy of a Labour politician. But then again Frank Field is one of those too and he has come up with some particularly bizarre proposals to reform the welfare state that would have had Beveridge doing somersaults in his grave.

Back to Field's Telegraph piece, in which he bangs all the right anti-immigration drums:

a UK population of 70 million in 20 years time; "maternity units are struggling as 25 per cent of all births in England and Wales are to foreign-born mothers– in London that proportion is 50 per cent. Primary schools in some areas have to resort to portable classrooms to cope with new arrivals";
"nearly 40 per cent of all new households over the next 25 years will form due to immigration – an average of nearly 100,000 extra households every year";

All the usual myths and distortions. Plus a new one: the only effective way to cure the stresses that the coming "decade of financial reckoning" will entail as UK Plc seeks to tame the budget deficit is "effective action to tackle immigration". But of course "the political classes are deaf to [the public's] demands." Thus, "our political leaders must allow the ballot box to decide this issue before anger over the scale of immigration spreads to our streets."

And what is his solution to his perceived 'problem'? Certainly not one that any of these same 'political leaders' are advocating, as he helpfully points out. It is a "dual lock": breaking "the link between coming here to work and becoming a citizen" together with a cap on "the total number who arrive minus those who leave each year: a net immigration* (sic) limit." Plus that and the old chestnut of ore immigrants already here not 'properly integrated' into 'British society' i.e. they have not been assimilated and become more like the mythic 'us'.

* Why is it that these idiots cannot even get the terminology right? OK, we'll answer that question ourselves, it is because their fixation on immigration is so strong that it swamps all consideration of the various forms of population change (i.e. migration, natality and mortality).

Saturday, 10 April 2010

More On Jobs & Statistical Abuse

A few more articles, this time from the Guardian [1, 2], that you can examine to get a different slant on the rabid Tory press' junk statistics. Plus, Andrew Neil's own less than literate use of the statistics which he used in his handbagging of Woolas on Thursday has been shown up by quiet a few of the commentators on his BBC blog.

Coach Parties & Deportation: An Open Letter To WH Tours

Dear WH Tours,

We understand that WH Tours is subcontracted by G4S to provide coaches for transporting detained migrants from immigration detention centres to airports for deportation on commercial or specially charted flights.

As you must be aware, the vast majority of deportations have been to countries devastated by wars and armed conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, DR Congo, Nigeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka and so on. After being forcibly deported, many have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Others have had to change their identities or move again to avoid persecution. Forcible deportations also tear apart people's lives as they are split from their families and communities and their right to freedom of movement is denied.

By providing coaches to transport deportees to the airport, WH Tours is complicit in the human tragedies that forcible deportations cause.

Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that deportees, including families and children, have been repeatedly subjected to racial and violent abuse at the hands of G4S security (see, for example, this report). By providing coaches where some of this abuse takes place, WH Tours is complicit in these unlawful acts, too.

Please confirm, in the light of this information, whether you will cease providing coaches for G4S and the UKBA for the purpose of forcible deportations. We would also be interested to hear WH Tours' position on forcible deportation as your other customers have the right to know how ethical your business is.

Your sincerely,

Corporate Watch

Friday, 9 April 2010


Only another 28 days to go before we can have a bit of a respite from the tidal wave of reactionary anti-immigration bile flowing forth from the Tory press? Unless of course the Tories get in. And then we can expect that the Mail, Express and their ilk will seek to hold Cameron to his promise to bring immigration (and no doubt a whole host of other 'liberties') down to the levels seen during the 'golden era' of Thatcher in the early '90s by maintaining that tidal wave of reactionary anti-immigration bile. Not that four more years of Nu Labour would be much better, but at least the incentive for some many non-story-immigration-stories would be lower. Unless of course they are all in fact secretly trying to incite a BNP-led coup as some of their coverage would lead one to conclude, despite the half-hearted denunciations of Griffin that they occasionally bury at the bottom of the odd xenophobically charged story.

Ennui & Election Time Immigration Statistics

It was with a terrible debilitating sense of ennui that we saw the front pages of the Express and Mail yesterday parroting an uncredited story from that bastion of reaction the Spectator's Coffee House blog, inflating it out of all significance and fuelling the two paper's respective ludicrously high non-story-immigration-stories counts of recent months, ludicrously high even if one takes in the fact that that a pseudo-election campaign has been up and running since the turn of the year.

This debilitating sense of ennui was further 'enhanced' by coming across the claim in the Mail article "Here JAMES SLACK explains what is really happening..." This kiss of death, James Slack 'by name, slack by nature' having another go at trying to juggle a bunch of statistics and dropping the whole lot in an unedifying pile on the floor. Having spent hours trying to decipher some of his previous attempts at simple maths, counting apples and oranges and getting bananas, we quiet frankly couldn't be bothered to waste our valuable time and energy.

Fortunately those nice people over at Five Chinese Crackers were crackers enough to try, so you can all have a look at their attempts to unravel the far from blue ribbon statistical analysis of the Mail and Express, and by inference the Spectator. And if you are feeling particularly masochistic, you too can read the Spectator's original post, its moan about the Mail stealing its story and its smug attempt to hatchet Woolas on his muddled response to their analysis. Additionally, Left Foot Forward have an alternative analysis of the figures, but quiet frankly the argument over 'British jobs for British workers' was nationalist posturing when Brown came out with it in the first place and it remains nationalist posturing, whatever the actual statistics.

As a footnote, it is very interesting that the Spectator, Mail and Express all seem to manage to find diffenent headline numbers for the percentage of jobs that they seem to think have gone to these 'damned foreigners' anyway. Who says statistics can't lie?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Merak Tamils Issued With Final Ultimatum?

Things have been quiet on the news front concerning the Tamil refugees holed up on a rickety old wooden-hulled boat in Merak harbour since the news that Alex their spokesman had disappeared at the beginning of last month*. However, we have not forgotten about them and neither have the Indonesian authorities, who have just issued them with yet another ultimatum. This one states that unless the Tamils, who have been on the boat for the last six months, come ashore within the next 5 days they will be forcibly removed from the Jaya Lestari 5 and deported immediately, with no chance of applying for asylum.

This obviously contravenes all international agreements and legislation against the refoulement of refugees but that does not seem to concern the Indonesian government who have become increasingly angry at their inability to get the Tamils to agree to come ashore. So much so that they have even been claiming in recent days that a deal has been reached. This has been denied by supporters of the refugees.

This morning officials from the UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration and Indonesia's police and immigration departments arrived dockside. They boarded the boat and photographed everybody on board. Mobile phone and laptops were confiscated and the ultimatum issued. According to Nimal, one of the Tamils who has been acting as their spokesperson since Alex left, the officials also refused to answer any questions.

The Tamils have been holding off leaving the Jaya Lestari 5 until they get assurances that they will have their asylum applications considered, that they will not be placed in detention and that they get the same deal afforded the 78 Tamils from the MV Oceanic Viking last year. They have been expressly told that this will not happen according to Nimal, speaking via a mobile phone that the Indonesians had failed to confiscate. He also reiterated the Tamils' plea that the "Australian government must help us for resettlement," something that the Rudd government have steadfastly refused to do.

* Australian refugee advocate Ian Rintoul claimed that Sanjeev "Alex" Kuhendrarajah had decided to flee because he believed his presence was slowing progress toward a resolution of the stand-off. The Indonesian authorities had claimed that he was pressurising the rest of the Tamils to remain on board and was therefore a hindrance to any deal to end the siege, but given the continuance of the situation, this has been proved to be a lie. Alex however was not the first to try and escape from the boat, 16 had tried up to the date he left, but so far he is believed to be the only one not to have been recaptured and interned by the Indonesians.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Mail Says: 'Foreign Nurses Forced To Take English Lessons'...

...So It Must Be True?

Ah yes! The Daily Mail, in its xenophobic Spitfires-over-the-cliffs-of-Dover and Churchill-fighting-the-damn-foreigners-on-the-beaches world, is at it again, revealing the startling news that (as the Telegraph puts it in its more sedate rehash of the Mail's story), 'NHS trust employs staff from 70 countries' - "Managers at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals in Oxford have arranged for employees to take English lessons after patients complained that they could not make themselves understood."

Except that the Mail's original version is slightly more sensationalist, 'Revealed: Hospital has staff from 70 countries as nurses who don't even understand 'nil by mouth' forced to take English lessons' [note the word 'forced'] - "An NHS hospital has staff from a staggering 70 countries on its payroll. The huge number of overseas nurses, cleaners and porters has forced health chiefs to send them on ten-week English courses because many do not understand basic medical phrases."

And how do we know this to be the case? You can bet your bottom dollar that the NHS Trust did not press-release the story. Of course not, far too obvious a target for Mail-like sensationalism. So, in sightly torturous English, the Telegraph reveals who did, "Many nurses and other front-line staff at the hospitals have such poor language skills that they are unable to read or write English, patient groups said."

The aforementioned 'patient group(s)' was, according to the Mail, the Oxford Radcliffe Patients' Forum, or to be more accurate, one Jacquie Pearce-Gervis,* who apparently "called last night for English lessons to be made compulsory rather than voluntary." The Telegraph, who appear to have checked her bona fides before publishing, identified her as spokeswoman for "Patient Voice, the Oxfordshire-based campaign group". And a quick search of the internet reveals that she was certainly a member of the 'Oxford Radcliffe Patients' Forum'** in 2006 (the most recent listing on the Trust's website) but most recently she has been a member of the Oxford-based or Oxfordshire-based group 'Patients Voice', depending on who one reads. Whether this is the same group as the pro-vivisection Oxford-based group Patients' Voice for Medical Advance we do not know.

However, it would appear that all one needs to do to get a story in the Mail, whatever group one claims to represent, is to ring up some dodgy Mail journo or the 'News' desk itself with some juicy titbit about damn foreigners causing good English stock some form of upset and Bob's your uncle (or aunty as the case maybe be, though she wouldn't get any favourable space if she were the later).

Anyway, to get back to the Mail: "Among the terms some workers from countries such as Burma, the Philippines and Poland can't follow are 'nil by mouth', 'doing the rounds' and 'bleeping a doctor'." Err! Why that particular choice of countries? Burma possibly, the Philippines less obviously, but Poland!? Clearly Poles (swan-eating shed-squatters) are now up there with the French (cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do want to ban the burqa) and Germans (the Boche - no can't use that word, its French - started WWI, WWII and the EU along with the French and always beating England on penalties at the World Cup) on the Mail's list of countries to hate.

Now here's the juicy bit, the meat (or TVP) in the sandwich of this story: "The lessons follow several 'near-disaster' cases, including one where a meal was delivered to a patient because a member of staff did not understand that 'nil by mouth' meant the man could not eat or drink." Disturbing, especially as the headline implied that this was due to "nurses who don't even understand 'nil by mouth'."

Reading on through the article, after learning that "all doctors from outside the EU must pass an English language test set by the General Medical Council before they can practise" and that "the same rules do not apply for other hospital workers", except that nurses and porters of course do not practice medicine and therefore do not have to take the GMC tests. "Instead, they are usually assessed on their grasp of the language at interview."

OK then? Except, "the problem has become so acute at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals that foreign workers are being encouraged to attend ten-week, taxpayer-funded 'English For Speakers Of Other Languages' courses, which are run by a nearby college."

So exactly how bad is this 'problem'? The Mail seems reluctant to actually say. It does reveal the interesting 'factoid' that "research has found that up to a quarter of nurses - more than 60,000 - working in London are foreign, with the largest number coming from the Philippines." What research this is the article does not reveal, or why the facts about London are relevant to Oxford and a hospital (or is that a hospital trust, not necessarily the same thing) that the paper clearly implies has much more of a 'problem' with foreign staff as they surely would be leading with the banner 'London hospitals employ staff from 70 countries' or some such rubbish?

Then we get a list of some hospitals in London and that "Manchester Royal Infirmary also has a high proportion of foreign staff from countries including India, Ghana, Spain, Germany, Iceland and the Yemen." Outstanding journalism! But probably nicked from a 2002 edition of the Independent.*** And its only then that we learn, both that this earth-shattering story is due to this Ms Pearce-Gervis calling "last night for English lessons to be made compulsory rather than voluntary."

And, wait for it, "There have been cases when porters have delivered a patient food despite the fact there is a clear sign on their bed saying "nil by mouth"." So it is NOT nurses who don't understand the phrase 'nil by mouth', it is porters delivering food to patients who apparently do not understand it. And even then we have no evidence that the food being delivered to the bed of someone due to have an operation was because the porters could not read English or because they got mixed up over who was having what meal, a mistake that we are sure no English-reading porters has ever made.

And even then, in the very next sentence, Ms Pearce-Gervis states "obviously this could have led to disaster but fortunately THE PATIENT [our emphasis] has been intelligent enough to point out that they are not allowed the food." So it was only one patient, as the Mail itself claimed earlier in the article. One case and even then there's no evidence presented of possible 'disaster' if the patient had gone ahead and eaten the food.

So what do Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust have to say on the subject? After a short anonymous quote from 'a member of staff at the trust' ("I think it should be compulsory. There can often be problems with common slang terms used on the ward." - something that 10 weeks of English lessons are not necessarily going to solve) and as many column inches of space dedicated to Dr Daniel Ubani, the German (naturally) GP involved in the death of a patient through the administration of a massive overdose of a painkiller he had never used before, but who also happened to have failed the GMC language test, their spokesperson, Rainy Faisey, deputy director of human resources at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, claimed that the courses were a way of giving staff in lower-paid jobs a chance to develop their skills.

"As an employer, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust offers a wide variety of training and development opportunities to its staff to help them to provide excellent care for our patients and further their career in the NHS. Like all good employers we give all staff the opportunity to develop their reading, writing and numeracy skills, whether their first language is English or not."

So, all in all, another xenophobic Mail non-story. And NO nurses are in fact being "forced to take English lessons."

* Who a back copy of the May 2004 issue of ORH News helpfully tells us "began work at the Radcliffe Infirmary as a shorthand typist when she was 17 and worked in the NHS for 20 years before re-training as a teacher in further education."
** As an aside, the Oxford Radcliffe Patients' Forum or Patient and Public Involvement Forum or the Oxfordshire and Berkshire Consortium for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (or even Oxfordshire and Berkshire Consortium for Patient and Public Involvement in Health depending on which NHS trust website one visits) no longer appears to exist in one or maybe all of its previous forms. Certainly neither of the websites [1, 2] are up and running and there is no mention of it in recent issues of the ORH News.
If, however, you live in the Oxford area, you can apply to join the panel by filling out this form. And maybe you'll get to meet the famous Ms Pearce-Gervis who the Mail is happy to dedicate so much of its valuable advertising space to.
*** This really does show up how little research goes in to this sort of story. No doubt the journo Google a few hospitals abd came up with the Independent article 'Why foreign nurses hold the nation's health in their hands', which contains the following information: "Indian nurses now account for one in ten of the infirmary's nursing workforce." Followed by: "In addition, a dozen other countries supply staff, including the Philippines, Australia, Spain, Ghana, Germany, Iceland and the Yemen."

A Truly Bespoke Service?

In need of an extension to your Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa?* Got £15,000 to spare? Then you can be fast-tracked with UKBA's new Super Premium Visa Service, which "will provide a high level of customer (sic) service and convenience."

The key features of the 'service' highlighted on the UKBA website are:
* customers can have their biometrics enrolled at a location of their choosing, including their home or business premises;
* customers can arrange a visit at a time and date of their choosing, subject to certain conditions; and
* we will make a decision on the application within 24 hours of the visit, if all the requirements are met.

However, you will need to obtain an foreign national identity card and this deluxe top-of-the-line fast-track scheme is only available to those of you in the South-East of England.

* Tier 2 work permits applied for by employers who need to fill a vacant position with a specific person and Tier 4 student visas. Also included are those renewing via the FLR(M), FLR(BID) and FLR(BUS) forms.

Cheapskates, Petty And Vidictive...

...Or Something More Sinister?

It seems that the latest penny-pinching exercise by Serco, the multinational outsourcing company making billions out of governments outsourcing their 'criminal justice services' such a prisons, immigration detention centres and escort services, involves restricting the number of pages of documents immigration detainees in Yarl's Wood are allowed to fax for legal purposes to fifteen. Amazingly this has been been condoned by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).

The net result of this policy is to severely restrict last minute appeals against deportation as the High Court will not be able to access all the relevant documents in sufficient time to make a judgement and thus the deportation will be carried out without the detainee's full access to all forms of judicial oversight. That Serco blame the detainees themselves for sending too many legal documents, dressed up in terms of protecting the rights of other detainees of course, just adds insult to injury.*

Now, given Serco's well known policy of cutting as many corners as possible in order to maximise their profit margins, this might seem like a mere penny-pinching exercise. However, when one considers the massive amount of adverse publicity surrounding the recent hunger strike that the firm has garnered, a PR disaster that could well be repeated when the court case brought by some of the women reaches trial and, as seems certain, the hunger strike is renewed in the near future, the exercise appears to be one of vengeance-seeking rather than one of monetary gain.

You can fax Serco at Yarl's Wood on 01234 82 1152 yourself, requesting they immediately lift the restriction and add more fax machines. Or write to the IMB for Yarl's Wood and ask them why they are not doing more to protect the legal rights of the detainees:

Independent Monitoring Board
Twin Wood Road
MK41 6BL

* The argument that detainees sending "100-200 pages, which as you can imagine is both time consuming for staff and also takes up the fax machine for an unreasonable amount of time, thus restricting access for other residents" is totally disingenuous. Maybe they should have more fax lines, these are an essential for of communication for any organisation supposedly involved in the criminal justice industry, or employ more staff?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Storm In A Statistical Teacup?

It is a bit rich for the likes of the Mail, Express, Telegraph, the Tories* and, of course, Andrew Green to be accusing Gordon Brown fiddling or even lying about the immigration figures, given the fact that they all regularly play fast and loose with facts and statistics themselves.

Daily Mail - "Mr Brown has been caught twisting the truth — yet again — earning a humiliating rebuke from the UK Statistics Authority for underestimating the scale of migration." & 'Brown's lies and chicanery on immigration are crying out to be exposed by the Tories'.
Express - "The head of the UK Statistics Authority wrote a personal note to the Prime Minister criticising his manipulation of data in an attempt to claim that the influx of migrants had significantly dropped during his premiership."
Telegraph - "Gordon Brown has misled the public on immigration figures. Again."
Sun - "Brown was humiliatingly caught out again using fiddled figures."
Andrew Green - “The Prime Minister has been caught red-handed fiddling the immigration statistics.” & "This amounts to fiddling the figures for presentational purposes and is completely unacceptable, especially on such a sensitive subject."

As Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority said, "The Statistics Authority hopes that, in the political debate over the coming weeks, all parties will be careful to protect the integrity of official statistics." Fat chance of that.

* The Tories were of course more circumspect with their language: "inaccurate picture of his record on immigration" - Chris Grayling. Although he did say that Brown was turning into "a serial offender in misleading the British people."


The 2 mentally disabled migrants held in the US Immigration and Customs Dentention (ICE) system for more than 4 years that we highlighted in the ICEd Up story on Tuesday were released yesterday from the Otay Mesa Detention facility after judges put their cases on hold due to serious questions about their mental competence. Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez and Jose Antonio Franco Gonzalez had effectively disappeared into the backwaters of the US immigration detention system as they were held to incapable of actively participating in their deportation proceedings.

In Gomez-Sanchez's case, an immigration judge halted proceedings ordered ICE to evaluate his mental competence back in January 2006. They didn't carry out that evaluation until 13 months later and didn't try resubmitting his case until June 2008, two and a half years after the intitial judgement. Last year a judge ordered his release on a $5,000 bond, ruling he was not a flight risk or a danger to the community. However, government attorneys challenged the order.

Franco, who has the mental age of a child, doesn't know his age or birthday, and has trouble counting and cannot tell time according to the ACLU court papers, was released into the care of his family.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a one-sentence statement on the decision to release the detainees: "After a review of their custody status, medical conditions and assurances from their families, we believe their release from ICE custody is appropriate" The fact that that review was forced upon them by a Human Rights watch and ACLU court action, after having the men in their custody for the past four years, obviously did not warrant commenting upon.