Motion to Winchester City Council Proposed by Cllr John Tippett-Cooper and seconded by Cllr Martin Tod
Winchester City Council is committed to welcoming asylum seekers and refugees to our District and including them in our activities. The people in our District have shown kindness and openness in recent months with huge support when donations for evacuees from Afghanistan was needed. We are also a District with a rich network of organsations providing support to the most vulnerable in our society. As a Council, we recognise the importance of reflecting this spirit of our community and core values of openness, kindness and respect for others. Winchester City Council also recognises asylum seekers and refugees potential contribution to our District, and also recognises that a co-ordinated and forward-looking approach is needed if the welfare of people moving into the town, and community cohesion between new and existing communities, are to be supported effectively.
Last week the Prime Minister recommitted offshore detention policies that would put refugees' lives at risk and dash their hopes of happiness. What's worse, he did it to save his own tanking approval ratings, calling the policies "Operation Red Meat".
We're writing to him and Priti Patel to tell them we won't stay silent while they use deadly policies to try and save their failing careers. We need your support to make sure our voices are as loud as possible.
On 14 January 2022, the Home Office announced new guidance aimed at combatting "age fraud" of asylum seekers. Where previously anyone who appears "over 25" was treated as an adult, now anyone who appears to be over 18, but whose age is indeterminate, will not enjoy the safeguards available to minors.
Five Special Rapporteurs from the UN Human Rights Agency (OHCHR) on 14 January 2022 issued an open letter saying the Bill breaches the UK's obligations under international law. "If adopted, it would seriously undermine the protection of the human rights of trafficked persons, including children, increase risks of exploitation faced by all migrants and asylum seekers, and lead to serious human rights violations" said the UN experts.
A range of scandals concerning asylum decisions, extra-legal notices of "illegal entry", border security technology, and accommodation shortcomings continue to engulf the Home Office. Read all about them here
Recently, the ministry attempted to decline asylum claims from persecuted Yemenis and Afghansin decisions that went against the Home Office's own guidance, as well as that of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The week before, a Syrian manfleeing government persecution was told he could return home: the government clarified in a tweet that forced returns to Syria were not taking place.
People disembarking from Channel boats have been issued "notices of liability to detention" declaring they will be deported for being "illegal entrants", despite the fact that this crime does not exist under UK law. The Court of Appeal said the Home Office had misinterpreted the law and that crossing the Channel by dinghy to seek asylum did not amount to illegal entry. The government responded that, though the crime of "illegal entry" does not currently exist, the Borders Billcurrently before the House of Lords "will make illegal arrival a criminal offence and introduce a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who facilitate illegal entry into the country". International law prohibits the penalisation of asylum seekers for "illegal" entry into a territory for the purposes of seeking asylum.
According to Sky News, the government wants to use Long-Range Acoustic Devicesor "sound canons" to stop refugee boats from crossing the Channel. The sonic devices emit high-frequency, loud noises that can induce vomiting. The Home Office confirmed that two boats were fitted with the technology but said they would not be used for "deterrence". The royal navy has been granted operational control of the border control operation in the Channel, and thus any potential future pushbacks, though senior officers have said they will not go along with plans.
The government's management of asylum seeker accommodation has also drawn the ire of NGOs after an investigation revealed that 20 childrendisappeared from asylum hotels over six months in 2021, with only half recovered later.
Further, it has been confirmed that the Napier Barracks, branded a "profoundly depressing example of the Home Office's institutionalised inhumanity" by Amnesty International, will continue to house asylum seekers until at least 2025.
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