Stop all criminal prosecutions of Cross Channel refugees - seeking asylum is not a crime!

Stop all criminal prosecutions of Cross Channel refugees - seeking asylum is not a crime!

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Movement for Justice started this petition to Rebecca Lawrence (Chief Executive, Crown Prosecution Service) and

Refugees risking their lives crossing the Channel to seek asylum have been slandered, persecuted and politically exploited by Johnson’s racist government. Now they have won an important victory. On Tuesday 21 December the Court of Appeal confirmed that it is not a crime for refugees to steer small boats across the Channel, to do their best to keep themselves and fellow refugees safe so they can exercise their legal right to claim asylum in Britain.  

The decision came following a special hearing, in which the Court of Appeal brought together four claims made separately by cross-Channel refugees. There were at least seven other refugees who were determined to fight for justice and waiting for  the outcome of  this hearing. They all have been or still are imprisoned  for that supposed ‘crime.’ The quashed all four convictions, making it almost certain the other seven will be quashed in January. 

This decision is an important  defence of human rights and the UN Refugee Convention, made in defiance of a government that is tearing up asylum rights and  human rights, and under the threat of a new Nationality & Borders Bill – the purpose of which is to change the law so that it will, automatically, be a crime for any refugee to cross the Channel or seek to enter the UK without a legal document. Politically, yesterday’s decision is a challenge to the whole direction in which this Far Right, authoritarian government is moving - and not only on asylum and immigration policy.


Since 2019 the Home Office has used photographic evidence from drones to get the police to arrest refugees who steered boats across the Channel, and then treated them as ‘people traffickers.’ That accusation was obviously false and the Home Office knew it was false. Nevertheless, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed to prosecute the refugees who the Home Office identified.


The legal principles of today’s decision were actually established by a Court of Appeal hearing in April this year – in the case of Fouad Kakaei, an Iranian asylum seeker. Over the next few months prosecutions were dropped in another eleven cases, and in July the CPS announced publicly that it would not be bringing any further prosecutions against cross-Channel refugees. 


Despite this, the Home Office has continued to investigate and ensure the arrest of refugees who steered boats. The CPS have fallen into line with the Home Office and are continuing with more prosecutions. There are still many hearings scheduled: the next one is on January 4th and the list includes the case of MFJ member Nabil Abdulmajid in May.

The plain truth is that the government and the Home Office have consciously ignored these legal decisions and acted as though the new Borders Bill was already on the statute books. The CPS has agreed to be their accomplice. Canterbury Crown Court, where every one of these cases has been heard, is a racist production line churning out guilty verdicts for the Home Office. 

The Home Office, the Court of Appeal and the CPS are at loggerheads on many fronts. On the Borders Bill and the Home Office’s general anti-immigrant measures they are in conflict over the central public plank in the government’s political agenda. We must demand that the CPS grows a backbone and refuses to bow any longer to the government’s demands that it ignores the decisions of the courts. Specifically, we demand that the CPS immediately drops all prosecutions of refugees who have steered boats across the Channel and refuses to bring any new prosecutions. 

 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
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