Ratcheting up the hostile environment

Ratcheting up the hostile environment

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team

IRR News 17 – 31 January 2023

This week, tough new rules came into force under the Nationality and Borders Act, potentially denying ‘foreign criminals’ sentenced to over 12 months access to modern slavery protections. At the same time, amendments made to the online safety bill will, if passed, lead to the criminalisation of social media companies that show online videos of Channel crossings in a ‘positive light’. But when it comes to the ‘hostile environment’, it’s not just primary legislation we should be concerned about. As we report in this week’s calendar of racism and resistance, the hostile environment also grows through incremental measures, Kafkaesque bureaucracy, and other dubious practices, both official and unofficial. A new Home Office taskforce is set up to intensify controls and checks in banks, schools and the NHS. Yet this government department is unable to provide basic safeguards for asylum-seeking children, with hundreds disappearing from Home Office hotels. It is only thanks to the vigilance of journalists and campaigners that this has come to light. Thanks to them we know about other practices and acts of institutional neglect that are taking place under the radar, such as the failure to communicate successful asylum decisions to those living in Home Office hotel accommodation, or to provide medical and vaccine records to Tower Hamlets GPs seeking to provide care for asylum seekers dispersed from Manston.

If, as Desmond Tutu once said, ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’,’, campaigners in the north of Ireland have shown they are alert to immediate dangers, mobilising this time against more primary legislation currently going through the UK parliament. The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, if passed, will stop virtually all further conflict-related criminal and civil cases, inquests and independent investigations. Professor Mark McGovern provides a timely analysis of ‘Legacy, truth and collusion in the North of Ireland’, in the current Race & Class. It should be read alongside Frances Webber’s earlier analysis of the Overseas Operations Act 2021 and Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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