A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.
Policing & criminal justice
3 December: Babacar Guèye, a 27-year-old Senegalese man, dies after being shot five times by a police officer in Rennes in north-west France. Guèye attempted to self-harm with a bread knife before his friend intervened and was injured. His friend then called the police, who allege that Guèye was shot in self-defence after confronting them with the bread knife. (Mediapart, 9 December 2015)
4 December 2015: The Runnymede Trust publishes a report: Justice, Resistance and Solidarity: Race and Policing in England and Wales. Download the report here.
8 December: The criminal court charge imposed on those who are found guilty following a trial is abandoned by Michael Gove, Justice Secretary, who also invites magistrates who resigned in protest to reconsider their resignations. (Law Gazette, 8 December 2015)
8 December: A HM Inspectorate of Prisons inspection into Maidstone Prison, which is used to house mainly foreign nationals, finds little promotion of equality, legal support or education. The report makes 55 recommendations and can be downloaded here. (Kent Online, 8 December 2015)
8 December: A police officer is dismissed from Thames Valley Police after he is found to have sexually assaulted three women, made homophobic comments and sent a racist text message. (Windsor Express, 8 December 2015)
9 December: Black people in Greater Manchester are more than twice as likely to be arrested as white people, new Ministry of Justice figures show. (Manchester Evening News, 9 December 2015)
11 December: Jermaine Baker, 28, is shot dead by police in Wood Green during a ‘pre-planned operation’. The police officer involved in the shooting is suspended from duty days later. (Daily Mirror, 14 December 2015 and Guardian, 14 December 2015)
13 December: Campaigners complain to St Andrews University over its continued employment of Bob Lambert, an ex-police officer-turned-academic who has been exposed as a police spy who spied on family campaigns and activist groups. (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, 14 December 2015)
15 December: An investigation by HM Inspector of Prisons into children in custody finds that a disproportionate number of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children are being held in secure training centres and youth offender institutions (YOI). There has also been an increase in the number of Muslim boys held in YOIs. Download the report here. (Evening Standard, 15 December 2015)
16 December: INQUEST publishes its Skills and Support Toolkit (for the families of those killed in state custody), view the toolkit here.
17 December: The Ministry of Justice publishes the ‘Government response to the Harris Review’ on the deaths of children in custody. Download it here.
17 December: The Home Office has published details on a new consultation: ‘Independent Police Complaints Commission reform consultation’. The consultation closes on 28 January 2016. View details here.
17 December: The Home Office publishes a report by Sheila Drew Smith: An independent review of the governance arrangements of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Download the report here.
Asylum & immigration
27 November: Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli tables a question to the European Commission on the compatibility of ‘hotspots’ with EU law, alleging illegal practices in Lampedusa deny refugees any real opportunity to claim asylum. (Statewatch, 8 December 2015)
1 December: Over 20 MEPs table a question to the European Council about relocation of refugees from hotspots. Only 86 have been relocated from Italy so far, and 30 from Greece. (Statewatch, 8 December 2015)
2 December: The Immigration Bill has its first reading in the House of Lords after passing its Commons stages. The second Lords reading is on 22 December. (Parliament website)
3 December: A man, believed to be Moroccan, dies in the Greek town of Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonian border, during clashes with the police. The man is thought to have been electrocuted after accidentally touching overhead railway cables while trying to climb on top of a train carriage. (Independent, 3 December 2015)
3 December: The National Audit Office publishes a report: E-borders and successor programmes. Download it here.
3 December: In an Information Tribunal appeal by the Home Office against an Information Commissioner decision, it is revealed that companies running immigration removal centres face a £10,000 fine if an incident of deliberate self-harm by a detainee results in death. (Corporate Watch, 3 December 2015)
3 December: The unprecedented decision by Theresa May to refuse British citizenship to the wife and children of a supporter of Osama bin Laden, in order to deter ‘potential extremists’, is ruled unlawful by the High Court. (Guardian, 3 December 2015)
7 December: Cameroonian man Charly Kouasseu is denied a visa to attend the funeral of his newborn son in the UK, because he was arrested nine years ago for travelling with false papers. (BBC News, 7 December 2015)
7 December: A Brussels court condemns Belgium’s federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers for turning away a 17-year-old Afghan refugee, leaving him homeless. (European Database on Asylum Law, 7 December 2015)
8 December: The Swedish government confirms plans to introduce regular ID checks on buses, trains and ferries at the start of the new year in order to ‘reduce the number of asylum seekers’. Sweden’s Council on Legislation criticises the proposed rules, likening them to ‘state of emergency laws’. The law is also criticised by the Swedish Red Cross which says the checks could ‘effectively prevent the exercise of the right to seek asylum’. (The Local, 9 December 2015 and Red Cross, 8 December 2015)
9 December: After Macedonia closes its border with Greece, stranding thousands of asylum seekers with no shelter, food or clean water, Greek police begin their evacuation by bus to Athens, where according to police people will be accommodated before being returned to their home countries. (Trust.org, 9 December 2015)
10 December: New guidelines by the Lord Advocate in Scotland state that refugees who break immigration rules to enter the Scotland should, as ‘far as possible’, be protected from prosecution. (STV, 10 December 2015)
10 December: The European Commission adopts infringement decisions against Greece, Croatia and Italy for their failure to ensure effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers, and sends formal notice to Hungary on the incompatibility of its new asylum legislation with EU law. (European Commission, 10 December 2015)
13 December: Denmark passes a law to confiscate jewellery and valuables with a value of over €300 from refugees, with the Justice and Immigration Minister, Sören Pind, stating that ‘the revenue … obtained can be used to meet the costs of the refugees’. (Daily Sabah, 13 December 2015)
14 December: Belgian minister Theo Francken is condemned by human rights group Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH) for sending letters to Afghans, including children, saying their asylum claims would not be accepted. (European Liberties Platform, 14 December 2015)
14 December: A legal challenge begins over the rights of children at Calais. The case involves four Syrian children seeking reunification with their families in the UK. (Guardian, 13 December 2015)
14 December: The leader of Croydon Council criticises the Home Office as ‘chaotic’ and ‘incompetent’ after Home Office officials admit to mistakenly offering money which is £1.3 million short of the funds required to look after unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the area. (Croydon Advertiser, 14 December 2015)
14 December: Two migrants’ rights activists are found not guilty of almost all charges against them at two separate French courts after they were charged with inciting riots and violence following protests in France. (Calais Migrant Solidarity, 14 December 2015)
15 December: The Northern Refugee Centre, which has helped refugees and asylum seekers for over thirty years, is facing closure as a result of a funding shortfall. (Independent, 15 December 2015)
Violence & harassment
3 December: A Muslim man is thrown off a National Express coach in Bristol after a passenger says she feels ‘uncomfortable’ travelling with him. (Bristol Post, 7 December 2015)
4 December: Six men are given twenty-one month prison sentences, suspended for two years, for a serious racist attack in Castleford last September. The men used a bottle and traffic cone in the attack, and one had a Whatsapp message on his phone which read ‘Kicked f** out of a n****r’. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 4 December 2015)
4 December: A third victim, described as a ‘teacher of immigrant origin’, dies six weeks after he sustained critical injuries when a neo-Nazi sympathiser armed with a knife went on the rampage at Kronan school in Trollhatten, western Sweden on 22 October. (Yahoo News, 4 December 2015)
7 December: Die Zeit finds that only four of 222 cases of the most serious violent attacks against refugee accommodation centres, between 1 January to 30 November 2015, secured criminal convictions, after spending eight weeks examining the police and public prosecutor’s responses. An additional eight cases are pending. Unsolved arson attacks are now a widespread and dangerous phenomenon, the reporters conclude. (Die Zeit, 7 December 2015)
10 December: The organisation Participation and the Practice of Rights says that the housing authority in Belfast is ‘failing to accurately record the seriousness and levels of racist attacks on refugee families’ and recording racist harassment as ‘nuisance’. (Belfast Live, 10 December 2015)
10 December: A 37-year-old woman in Liverpool is given a fourteen-week prison sentence for a six-year campaign of harassment against a woman of ‘east Asian heritage’ and her child. The woman assaulted the child, and racially abused the mother on several occasions. (Liverpool Echo, 10 December 2015)
10 December: Latifa Ibn Zlaten, the (headscarf-wearing) mother of a French soldier murdered by Mohammed Merha in a terrorist attack in France, is booed and heckled in the French parliament after being invited to speak about her son at a conference organised by the Socialist Group. (Independent, 10 December 2015)
11 December: Two men are charged with arson for setting fire to a hotel scheduled to house asylum seekers in the Lindås Municipality in Hordaland, Norway. It is believed that others were involved in the arson attack. (The Local, 11 December 2015)
14 December: Connor Williams, 18, is jailed for 20 months after admitting charges of robbery and racially aggravated assault after attacking a petrol station worker in Flintshire in the early hours of 14 December 2014. (Daily Post, 14 December 2015)
14 December: The trial of Pastor James McConnell, 78, begins for making ‘grossly offensive’ remarks about Islam in a sermon at a Belfast church in May 2014. (BBC News, 14 December 2015)
17 December: At least 14 people are arrested after a protest outside the Geldermalsen town hall in the Netherlands against plans to build a centre to house 1,500 asylum seekers in the town. It is reported that the 2,000-strong protest became violent, with protesters tearing down fences, throwing bottles and stones, firing fireworks at the hall and shouting anti-immigration slogans. A member of the council received a death threat just before the council meeting, stating that his whole family would die if he ‘voted in favour of the refugee centre’. (BBC News, 17 December 2015)
4 December: The Huffington Post publishes allegations made by ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson (a.k.a Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) that he was paid by the Quilliam Foundation to quit the far-right group. (Huffington Post, 4 December 2015)
6 December: It is revealed that over 1,200 army recruits failed security checks in 2013 in Switzerland, with most cases related to individuals involved with extreme right-wing organisations. (The Local, 6 December 2015)
15 December: The Huffington Post reports that the EDL have elected a new leader – Ian Crossman, a.k.a Phil Derrin – and then immediately started a crowdfunding page to stop him being jailed in January 2016. (Huffington Post, 15 December 2015)
17 December: Joshua Bonehill-Paine is found guilty of inciting racial hatred after creating and posting anti-Semitic material, and jailed for three years and four months. (Western Gazette, 17 December 2015)
6 December: In the first round of the French regional elections, the FN, with its best result ever, takes the national lead (27.73 per cent of the vote). In six of the thirteen mainland regions, the FN were first, with 40.64 per cent voting for Marine Le Pen in the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie. In Calais, she won 49 per cent, also scoring well in other northern coastal towns where migrants are sleeping rough. (French Ministry of the Interior, 7 December 2015)
13 December: In the second round of the French regional elections, the FN fails to win any of the thirteen regions, but poll 27.87 per cent of the national vote with 6.8 million people casting their vote for the FN. (HOPE Not Hate, 15 December 2015)
10 December: The Home Office publishes ‘Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 statistics’. View and download the statistics here.
7 December: Keith Vaz, MP, tables an early day motion (EDM) on the: ‘50th Anniversary of the Introduction of the Race Relations Act 1965’. View the EDM here.
7 December: Roma Rights publishes: Nothing About Us Without Us? Roma Participation in Policy Making and Knowledge Production. Download it here.
8 December: The Runnymede Trust publishes a report: How Far Have We Come? Lessons from the 1965 Race Relations Act. Download the report here.
3 December: The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills publishes: Higher education: (student support) regulations 2015 – equality analysis. Download the report here.
7 December: It is revealed that a teacher at a school in Rotherham is under police investigation after he reportedly called a pupil a terrorist three days after the Paris attacks. (DOAM, 7 December 2015)
6 December: Imams in Newham, backed by teachers, community organisations and student unions, claim that the measures adopted under the Prevent scheme and the Counter-Terrorism Act result in ‘spying on our young people’ and lead to ‘increasing division and to a breakdown of trust in schools and colleges’. (Guardian, 6 December 2015)
10 December: The High Court grants a landmark injunction to Blackpool Council to stop thirteen named Travellers (and ‘persons unknown’) from setting up any unauthorised camps in the area. (Blackpool Gazette, 10 December 2015)
10 December: A landlord in Sealand, North Wales pleads guilty to twelve charges under the Housing Act after it was found that he was making around £23,000 per month by accommodating over 100 eastern European migrants in a building that was ‘essentially uninhabitable’. (Daily Post, 10 December 2015)
16 December: Harlow councillors go to the High Court to try and make a temporary ban (imposed in May) on Travellers setting up unauthorised encampments permanent. (ITV, 16 December 2015)
3 December: Greater Manchester Police lose an appeal at the High Court against a decision by an employment tribunal earlier this year that it racially discriminated against DC Paul Bailey. (Manchester Evening News, 11 December 2015)
11 December: A two-match ban faced by Somerset cricketer Craig Overton for telling another player to ‘go back to your own f*****g country’ is criticised by anti-racism campaigner Lord Herman Ouseley as ‘outrageous’ and too lenient. (Guardian, 11 December 2015)
7 December: The Department of Health is carrying out a consultation on: ‘Overseas visitors and migrants: extending charges for NHS services’, which proposes extending charges to emergency and primary treatment . View details on the consultation, which closes on 7 March 2016, here.
16 December: The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) calls on the Daily Express to make a front-page apology for a story which claimed that spoken English was dying out in some classrooms. (Press Gazette, 16 December 2015)