Asylum: Britain is an open-air prison for the most needy

Once again, a report on the asylum system in Britain has revealed the cruel and unusual punishment of applying for help from Great Britain.

Some applicants are waiting up to 16 years for a decision. A backlog of 32,600 cases from 2011 is yet to be resolved. The number of applicants waiting over six months rose by 63% last year. Some 3,500 people who applied for asylum in 2012 have yet to receive an initial decision.

The cruelty of the asylum system is not in the decisions it reaches. It is in the legal and financial limbo it puts asylum seekers in while they get lost in the machine.
Those having their asylum status decided are not allowed to work and they are not allowed to claim benefits. They are given £36.62 a week, to be collected from the Post Office, for sustenance.

They can apply to the UK Border Agency for help with accommodation if they are destitute.  The housing, provided by private contractors like Serco and G4S, was attacked as "sub-standard" by MPs today. The anecdotal evidence is of grey, despairing places in a state of disrepair, full of lost people.

The asylum system turns Britain into a vast open-air prison. One asylum seeker who arrived in the UK after being held in a jail in Iran told me that his prison had merely been expanded. Without the right to work, or claim benefits, or volunteer, he was trapped in a state of inaction, of half-presence. The system would not respond to questions. For years on end, you would hear nothing. It is a legally mandated half-state, a state-imposed lethargy.

It really doesn't matter which side of the immigration or asylum debate you're on. You can be as anti-asylum as you like. Whichever way you look at it, this system is intolerable. It doesn't just condemn the vulnerable to an excuse of a life. It also, as home affairs committee chair Keith Vaz pointed out today; potentially allow war criminals and terrorists into Britain, hiding in the grey areas of a convoluted and malfunctioning bureaucratic system.

The system must be fixed and made to function, not just to provide help for those who most need it, but also to get rid of those who don't. But for that to happen there must be public pressure. Today is a rare day when asylum won a place in the news headlines. Unless that happens more often, the system will remain a forgotten mechanism, letting down the country and the needy at once.

by: Ian Dunt

Congestion charge rip-off

George Galloway has written to every member of the London Assembly about the websites which rip-off motorists by appearing to be official ones to pay congestion charges. In fact they levy a healthy premium and are probably illegal.
The text of the letter is here:
Dear London Assembly Member,
You may have seen the ITV London News at 6pm last night, the excellent top item of which was a story from Simon Harris about the unofficial websites that exist to rip off London’s motorists trying to pay the congestion charge online. I tabled a motion in parliament (see link below) in early September after my chief of staff, an Oxbridge graduate no less, was conned by such a website and I then discovered these websites had been in existence for a long time conning and ripping off an untold number of London motorists. The sites are deliberately designed to look like an official site and the people behind them manipulate google so that their site comes first when you google, say, “pay congestion charge”.

Burma's Violence Demands Greater International Attention

Religious violence in Burma, also known as Myanmar, has become the new breeding ground for sectarian violence. Much of the violence this past week has been instigated by radical Buddhist mobs belonging to the notorious 969 Movement at Rohingya Muslims, which constitute less than 5% of Burma’s total population, and are of Bengali heritage. The 969 Movement is led by Ashin Wirathu, a relatively unknown Buddhist monk who claims to preach nonviolence but actively loathes Muslims, who he sees as part of a malevolent mission to eradicate the country’s Buddhist majority.
Rohingya Muslims face draconian social and economic restrictions, and they are not entitled to full citizenship. Moreover, they are unable to marry individuals outside their faith. Beginning this year, mosques were heavily looted and destroyed, inciting greater animosity between the two groups.

Galloway submits motions of soldiers' sectarianism and MPs extra allowances

George Galloway today submitted two parliamentary motions which should appear on the order paper tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday.

British soldiers and sectarianism

That this House condemns the reprehensible and ill-disciplined behaviour of members of the Armed Forces including some Royal Marine soldiers at Ibrox Park, the home of Glasgow Rangers, on Saturday 28th September 2013 on what was dubbed an “armed forces' day”; notes the sickening scenes as they chanted songs attacking Catholics, embraced braying fans and held up sectarian banners; questions the role of the senior officers who apparently sanctioned the event and appeared to take no action to halt the behaviour; and demands that those marines who joined in this hatefest are severely disciplined.  

 The bedroom tax and MPs’ allowances

That this House notes that under the bedroom tax more than 600,000 social tenants with spare rooms must either move or pay an average of £14-a-week penalty; further notes that  members of parliament with a spare room in their London homes can claim an additional allowance if a child or children routinely resides with them; notes that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has ruled that they will still be eligible for the additional allowance if the child visits just once a month; condemns the 29 hypocritical MPs who, while backing the bedroom tax, have claimed an additional £64,000 and a further 20 who claimed £37,000; and urges the government to end this unfair allowance which can only reflect badly with members of the public.