December 2022 NewsLetter Newsletter

Good and Bad News Britain – December 2022 Update

Good News Britain

  • The campaign group Newcastle United Football Club Against Sportswashing held a silent protest outside their stadium in November. They had a banner displaying the photos of the young people on death row or executed in Saudi Arabia with their names and ages, aiming to educate fans on what the owners of the club (Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund) are doing.
  • A coalition of charities, the Children’s Alliance, has called on the government to create a Cabinet Minister for children.
  • Shamima Begum has challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship in a hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Her lawyers argued that it should have investigated whether or not she was the victim of trafficking. The Home Office insisted that she continues to pose a risk to national security. At the time of writing, there has been no decision.

Bad News Britain

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council released a report in November which included 302 recommendations demanding the UK tackle rising poverty. It also demanded action on housing to prevent homelessness, food security for young children and equal rights for people with disabilities.
  • The University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which investigates Modern Slavery, found that around 30 per cent of migrant workers on UK fishing vessels work 20-hour shifts and 35 per cent said they were regularly subjected to physical violence. Like workers in Qatar, they were given few breaks, paid well below the minimum wage and could not leave due to debts. Migrant workers recruited under the government’s Seasonal Worker scheme also tell similar stories to those of migrant workers in Qatar.
  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Muslims agreed as a definition ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness’. This was agreed to by the Labour Party but rejected by the government. More than two fifths of religious hate crime targeted Muslims, the most of any group, according to Home Office data.
  • The Law Society has found that, at the current rate of progress, it will take more than 125 years before there is proper representation within the England and Wales judiciary. Black judges make up just 1.09 per cent of the judiciary and it will take until 2149 for their representation to match current estimates for the general population (3.5 per cent). Proportionate representation of women is expected to take at least another decade and, for people of Asian ancestry, it will take until 2033.
  • According to the Foreign Affairs Committee, three secret Chinese police stations, in Hendon, Croydon, and Glasgow, are being used by the Chinese government to hunt down dissidents. Chinese officials say they exist purely to provide bureaucratic services to Chinese citizens, but since one is registered as an estate agency and another as a Chinese restaurant this seems implausible.
  • The British No.1 tennis player Cameron Norrie is participating in The Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia on 8-10 December – another example of sportswashing. He declined to comment on the country’s human rights record when asked to by Amnesty International: ‘I don’t feel it is right for me to get involved with individual government’s policies’. Judy Murray is also attending to give masterclasses for aspiring coaches and volunteers and tennis taster sessions for girls and women.
  • Police arrested several journalists covering a Just Stop Oil protest. All were subsequently released without charge but one found that the police had searched his home while his wife and daughter were at home.
  • Since 2017, 50,000 nurses who registered to practice in the UK were trained in countries with too few of their own nurses. The number of foreign-trained nurses registering to work in the UK has increased six-fold since 2016 when the government axed a fund for training NHS nurses in England. The costs of recruiting a nurse trained abroad are £10-12k, compared to £26k to train a nurse in the UK.
  • A review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact found that the UK’s funding aid to Afghanistan failed in its primary aim of creating a stable country. The UK gave £3.2bn in aid over 20 years but the ‘limited progress’ made during that time was ‘modest and unsustainable’.