“Each of us is our brother’s keeper. By engaging in the struggle for human rights wherever they are under attack, you in Ely, will join the long list of heroes in the past, often little known, who have done the same.
The name Amnesty today means hope to many worldwide who thought themselves abandoned.” – Bruce Kent
We are greatly saddened at the scale of the refugee crisis currently being played out on our doorstep. It is awful and heart-rending to see the risks that refugees must take to get their families to safety.
The Ely City Amnesty International Group holds the view that everyone should be entitled to basic human rights, including the right to asylum (Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and we believe that we have a moral obligation to help.
Ely City Amnesty supports ElyRRC’s aims of resettling refugees in Ely and East Cambridgeshire and welcoming refugees into our city and surrounds.
Illegal Migration Bill
The Illegal Migration Bill is about to become law – it only awaits royal assent. This is so despite attempts by some members of the House of Lords to make amendments to some of its provisions and despite a number of Conservative MPs voting against it. The passing of this Bill means that any asylum seekers arriving in the UK through an unofficial route – even if a child or victim of human trafficking – will be deported.
Amnesty International and many other human rights groups opposed this Bill and campaigned against it. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, and UN Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, have both objected, stating that it is not consistent with the UK’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law and will have profound consequences for people in need of international protection.
Questions remain, however, about the implementation of the Bill: where, for example, will these asylum seekers be deported to? The Court of Appeal has ruled that deportation to Rwanda is unlawful (although the government is appealing this) and, even if the Supreme Court supports the government, Rwanda can only take a few hundred asylum seekers. The government wants to send asylum seekers back to the European countries that they have passed through but there are no agreements in place for this to happen (in contrast to the situation pre-Brexit). And, under the terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocols, asylum seekers should not be sent back to their country of origin unless their asylum claim is heard and rejected. The fact that the Bill permits the government to ignore this breaks the UK’s obligations under international law. This will undoubtedly give rise to legal challenge. All may not be lost. Click here and here for more information on the Illegal Migration Bill.
‘Sportswashing’ is a term used to describe how a country promotes sport to enhance its reputation and draw attention away from the more harmful perceptions of its actions and society. A recent example of sportswashing was the 2022 Football World Cup held in Qatar, a state with a poor human rights record coupled with a history of migrant worker abuse. With a few notable exceptions, the media portrayal of the tournament was characterised by a focus on sport with minimal criticism of the Qatar regime. Through this act of sportswashing the Qatar state presented itself to the world in a positive light. Closer to home, sportswashing is evident in the case of several Premier League football clubs. Manchester City are owned by the Abu Dhabi Royal Family (United Arab Emirates), a state where frequent human rights violations have
been documented. Similarly, Saudi Arabia – a country consistently ranked among the worst in surveys of political and human rights, and a state where the use of capital punishment is rising – owns Newcastle United. Click here for more information on sportswashing.