Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When is it OK to coerce individual or group of people by popular demand?

Growing up in Kabul I lived in a neighborhood with a significant number of Hindus and Sikhs but the numbers started to dissipate after the government collapsed in 1992 and by 2001, before the American led invasion, there was a few hundreds left. That same year the Taliban issued a Fatwa; the ruling by a council of prominent Islamic clerics required all non-Muslims to wear distinguishing symbol. Under the plan all non-Muslims must wear a piece of yellow cloth whenever they venture outdoors. 

Many Hindus and Sikhs did not see this as unjust; I remember some rationalising the distinguishing badge as a safeguard for Hindus and Sikhs from Taliban religious police who enforced a strict line of Islamic practice through tough punishment including imprisonment and on the spot beating.  The victim adopts methods to cope with injustice, this is certainly true in other cases of the tyranny of majority. The Gladiator who died or killed for the pleasure of the audience fostered and lived with a culture of chivalry and honour that reinforced the tradition.

What about the modern Western democracy? Is it still OK to oppress some by the demand of majority? Does it still have that segregating impact where the oppressed adopts mannerism and culture to cope with the injustice.

The Western democracies claim that social injustice has been addressed by the provision of Human Rights that is enshrined at the core of legal and political system. But we all know that is a load of hotair; the oppression of the minority and the emptiness of Human Rights claim is demonstrated clearest in the issue of immigration. The UK Home Office has appointed an obnoxious anti-immigration minister Nick Harper who has launched a crusade against people of certain national origins that is supported by claim of responding to popular demand for fierce restrictions on immigration. The official policy line of the Home Office is to “control” the number of immigrants from low-GDP countries in response to concern expressed by British people through democratic processes.

The Home Office has put in place new rules and regulations in order to make it difficult for people of “low GDP countries” to secure an extension to their stay. Lets consider a family with a house, a business, children born and raised in the UK, social connections, cultural and educational ties with the UK; the family has lived here legally for a decade or so and one day out of the blue the Home Office changes the rules without notification. Under the new rules recruitment of people from low GDP countries will be a violation of visa term; (if you think that is a wild rule I invite you to read the immigration website) this family is now advised by the Home Office that their visa application is refused and they should be leaving the UK.

Popular demand is questionable in the way it objectifies the minority but also the legitimacy of claim to popular support is questionable too. A closer look will show that it is not the majority but a very boisterous minority with vested interested and power that drives such agendas. The most popular tool of such a coward policy is “Framing”. Lets consider this in the case of immigration; a YouGov poll asked 2,056 people whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: “People should be free to live and work wherever they wish, and enjoy all the same rights as all other residents.”

·      54 percent of them either agreed (35 percent) or “strongly agreed” (19 percent)
·      31 percent either didn’t know (8 percent) or “neither agreed nor disagreed” (23 percent)
·      Only 16 percent disagreed (12 percent) or “strongly disagreed” (4 percent)

Contrary to Home Office claim most people recognise the right of people to live and work at the place of their choice but people respond differently by how the argument is framed. The sample was then split in two the first Group was asked “whether they should be free to live and work in a foreign country” and the second group was asked “whether foreigners should be free to live and work in Britain.” Both groups replied in favour – although the first group majority (72 percent) was much bigger than the second group (46 percent). A constructive debate about immigration will aim to find a decent solution that is based on Human Rights and legal precedence with the support of rational majority. The current approach of inflammatory language and dehumanization of immigrants is a framing attempt by the anti immigration lobby that uses fear and shock to continue its oppressive policies.

Its certainly helpful to recognise depth and extent of personal issues such as anger, hate and imprudence while trying to make heads of ghettos, terrorism and disillusionment. However personalities thrive within a subculture or a group mentality and government policies of neglect, scapegoating and oppression of minorities have contributed to the formation of those undercultures.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Legal route to migration

Everyday more people are fleeing violence and poverty and seeking asylum in Europe. The EU member states are at loggerheads over refugee quotas, the authorities are often overburdened. Parts of the population are opposed to taking in asylum seekers altogether while a greater majority fear the impact on welfare state and governments inability to control borders. Politicians in service to their electorates demonstrate their tough stand on illegal migration by using inflammatory language, refuse to cooperate or address emergencies.

Government neglect of the crisis is justified by the policy of removing pull factors for more migrants. Apart from the morally questionable stand on the spectrum of neglecting vulnerable asylum seekers to deliberately endanger human lives the current policy is not adequate to deal with the issue of migration.  This tired policy was first tried in 2013 and continued to 2014 where migrants on unseaworthy vessels in international waters were not rescued in order to deter migrants from the journey. This policy resulted in thousands of life losses and finally compelled politician to launch naval rescue missions in 2015.

The difficulty of the journey nor the fences and barbwires will deter migrants from attempting to gamble the treacherous journey as long as the chance of having a dream life exist in Europe. Most asylum seekers are escaping poverty and violence and have a valid claim to asylum.  For instance most Afghans who sought asylum in 2014 were granted leave but the current policy will only grant them humanitarian protection and refugee status if they are on European soil thus encouraging the treacherous journey. Since they are granted asylum anyway it would save many lives and remove rings of human traffickers if developed countries assessed and granted visa in migrant home country.

There need to be legal ways for people to travel to Europe and live here while not being a burden on the public purse under work and business visa schemes. Refugees are very expensive and a study in Denmark showed three in four refugees are unemployed ten years after their arrival. Work schemes will empower people by granting them the status of a productive member of the society and boost their confidence. Such schemes currently exist for instance I myself arrived in the UK on an entrepreneur visa but the visa imposes too many unjust restrictions on the applicant from the kind of work they should be doing to descriptive guidelines on conduct of business and a hefty £30,000 visa related fees on a small family.  

Britain is ahead of other European countries in terms of attracting foreign talent yet the system is dysfunctional and one can only imagine what it is like for other European countries. It only takes a brief review of immigration law website to see that there is a constant relentless stream of judicial decisions showing the vast numbers of errors which occur by decision makers.  Transitional provisions regarding immigration rules ignored, policies not taken into account, ambiguous rules inconsistently applied, children or dependants not considered properly, judicial precedents ignored.

Against this background the Home Office, the state department in charge of immigration, continue to tighten the rules without due attention to how that relate to other policies. For instance the Home Office has removed the right of appeal for all business and work visa and applicants are faced with the Home Office reviewing its own decisions rather than have a tribunal undertake this task. This is intended to provide a fast track to remove individuals from the country if their visa extension application fails. Ironically it is likely that an individual could probably make a human rights claim, which will then provide an appeal anyway. Out of all that could be said about these changes the least sustainable position is that they will make it simpler to remove individuals from the UK. Even worse there is a flow of decisions about certain core concepts, such as article 8 of the ECHR and the rights of children, which suggest even the senior judiciary cannot quite decide what the rules mean and how they should be applied. If you have a life here of some substance and then a series of unfair Home Office decisions, its not hard to see how you could argue that eventual removal will breach your fundamental rights.

Some people like myself come from active war zones and will be unwilling to avail them for removal and will have a valid claim of stay argued on the human rights grounds.

The legal route to migration is a sham and the authorities are unable to reconcile the nationalist fervor they cultivate to rally support among the population for the political class with the realities of the world and their foreign policy. As a result they keep producing these farcical rules and immigration laws that is choking legal immigration and fuelling the refugee crisis and human trafficking.