Genocide Bill introduced. Russian Ambassador calls for international law to protect ethnic and religious minorities.Crisis in Aleppo. Latest Government replies and Boris Johnson’s genocide Statement. Nina Shea on falling for IS propaganda about Christians – and plight of minorities fleeing genocide.

DavidAlton.net

David Alton BBC file photo

‘We have no voice’: Christians in Jordan 2 years after fleeing N. Iraq

Published: Aug. 5, 2016 by Abigail Frymann Rouch

https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2016/08/4578750/

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Questions for Written Answer 

Tabled on 18 July and due for answer by 1 August.

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to participate in the conference about the attacks on Yazidis, Christians and others by ISIS organised by the US State Department in Washington DC on 29 July; if so, who will represent them and whether whilst attending that conference they will explain why they have not supported the genocide declarations passed by the House of Commons and the US Congress.   HL1254

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they now recognise that a genocide is underway against minorities in Syria and Iraq; and whether the opinion set out in The Sunday Telegraph on 27 March that ISIS “are…

View original post 7,543 more words

Theresa May Takes Further Decisive Action Against Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery – and an indictment of the trans-Atlantic historic slave trade

 

Theresa May Takes Further Decisive Action Against Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.

Also see: an indictment of the trans-Atlantic historic slave trade

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8z2masuzFvreGVwNWhIc3N3NEU

 

modern day slavery

 

 As Home Secretary, and now as Prime Minister, Theresa May has taken decisive action against human trafficking and modern day slavery. She is to be warmly applauded:

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-07-31/theresa-may-announces-crackdown-on-modern-slavery/

 

Pope Francis, too, has written about the importance of  eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking from our world.

 

https://cruxnow.com/catholic-voices/2016/07/30/chris-white-piece-human-trafficking/

Also see:

https://davidalton.net/2015/02/26/modern-day-slavery-and-human-trafficking-update-on-the-latest-amendments-and-debates-on-the-modern-day-slavery-bill/

https://davidalton.net/2016/01/21/the-exploitation-of-domestic-migrant-labour-the-right-and-duty-of-asylum-seekers-to-be-able-to-work-and-the-debate-in-parliament/

https://davidalton.net/2014/12/03/5388/

https://davidalton.net/2014/11/18/5361/

https://davidalton.net/2010/12/23/debate-on-slavery/

https://davidalton.net/2013/10/17/launch-at-westminster-of-taken-campaign-to-combat-human-trafficking-hazel-thompsons-powerful-report-on-the-situation-in-mumbai/

https://davidalton.net/2012/05/11/extracts-from-a-talk-on-human-trafficking-blackburn-cathedral-11th-may-2012-and-link-to-powerpoint-presentation/

https://davidalton.net/2011/05/27/india-and-human-trafficking-question-in-parliament/

https://davidalton.net/2010/12/23/human-trafficking-march-2002/

https://davidalton.net/2010/12/23/slavery-a-story-of-pain-and-prejudice/

https://davidalton.net/2010/12/23/sudan-slavery/

modern slavery william wilberforce 2

11.05 am July 8th 2016

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to support the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill, which is being promoted by my noble friend Lady Young of Hornsey. She is a formidable and effective parliamentarian with a long track record in contesting modern-day forms of slavery. Her eloquent speech today was an impressive extension of that record.

I support the requirements in her Bill which would be placed on commercial organisations and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual reports and accounts, and the requirement for contracting authorities to exclude from procurement procedures economic operators which have not provided such a statement. With the United Kingdom Government awarding £45 billion of contracts annually, it is self-evident what leverage this policy could provide in forcing businesses to strengthen their slavery and trafficking statements. I was particularly pleased to see that, following the publication of the BMA’s report in March on the 150 billion medical gloves used globally, not least here in the National Health Service, the BMA is strongly supporting my noble friend’s Bill because there are significant concerns, as we have heard—the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, referred to this—about labour abuses in many of the factories which produce disposable gloves.

This is a very modest Bill and a first step to addressing the concern of the Transparency in Supply Chains Coalition that early indications are that the majority of initial,

“company statements on modern slavery in supply chains appear not to meet the Act’s requirements”.

I am also glad that the Bill is before your Lordships as it enables us to have a broader and wider debate today. It could be used, as others have suggested, to meet the real expectations which we all had of the 2015 Act. Thanks to my noble friend Lady Young, we have the opportunity now to plug some of the gaps left in the legislation. Although the Government opposed my own amendment in 2015 proposing post-legislative scrutiny, my noble friend’s Bill gives us an opportunity to do some of that. We have already heard the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, refer to the extension of the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. We have also heard some concerns raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby, my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss and others about other issues in the Bill: everything from domestic visas to the national referral mechanism and the central repository, which was alluded to by the right reverend Prelate and which I will return to in due course.

Seven years ago, in 2009, I accompanied my noble friend Lady Young to see the then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bach, to support her amendments in Committee to the Coroners and Justice Bill, which sought to make it a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment to hold someone in servitude; and to make it an offence for a person to subject another to forced or compulsory labour where the victim had been threatened with harm if they did not perform the work. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, could not been more receptive or helpful, and I hope that that will set the tone for the response given by the noble and learned Lord to my noble friend’s Bill today.

These abhorrent practices were the issues to which we all returned during the passage of the flagship Modern Slavery Bill. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, I pay particular tribute to the right honourable Theresa May, the Home Secretary—I hope that that tribute does not do her too much damage—and to our own Home Office Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for their diligence and effectiveness in promoting flagship legislation which commanded support across both Houses and all sides of your Lordships’ House.

I might say in parenthesis that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, is due to return to the United Kingdom around 8 August having walked a staggering 2,460 kilometres so far, from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, while raising money for UNICEF and awareness of the 2016 Olympic Truce. Although his sons tease him that he is more “Beer and Grills” than Bear Grylls, he and his wife have, through their earlier walks, already given more than £200,000 to charity.

Through the noble Lord’s work in government, a different gift will be the enduring legacy of the modern slavery legislation, not least the provision which requires businesses with a commercial presence in the UK and a worldwide turnover in excess of £36 million to report annually on steps that the business has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in its supply chains or any part of its own business. However, it was the noble Lord, Lord Bates, himself who admitted that, admirable though the Act was, it would never be the last word on the subject. The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, published only this week, refers to our legislation in the United Kingdom and notes:

“Media and NGOs report compliance so far has been incomplete, in part due to misunderstandings among businesses about what the law requires. Critics noted the lack of monetary or criminal penalties for companies that did not comply with the reporting requirement”.

It is obvious that there is a need for us to go further than we have done even in that admirable 2015 legislation. That need was underlined at a meeting held here, on Tuesday, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association room. Mr Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, said at that meeting that the Act had been judged the world’s third-strongest response to this cancer of modern-day slavery, surpassed only by legislation in the Netherlands and the United States. Nevertheless, it is not perfect and is not a panacea.

During consideration of that legislation, at Second Reading, in Committee and on Report, I argued that modern slavery is, by its very nature, a global phenomenon. It cannot be tackled by one Government alone, but requires a global solution and a concerted and coherent global strategy. We heard again from Kevin Hyland that, for every person trafficked in the UK, there are dozens of children in forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton mills, men and women enslaved in Mauritania, and Syrian children used as child labour in Lebanon. In addition, 90% of North Korean escapees are trafficked in China, women and children are exploited in bonded labour in India and Pakistan, and all over the world women and girls are trafficked into brothels. Your Lordships could recall, too, the fatal consequences of the collapsed garment factory in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and ask themselves whether we are doing enough to deter suppliers that display such a fundamental disrespect for human rights.

On Monday, I met with representatives of India’s Dalit community—so-called “untouchables”—who form a significant proportion of the 21 million people the International Labour Organization says are in forced labour around the world, who in total produce an estimated $150 billion in illicit profits. Then there are the 45 million people estimated to be living in modern slavery by the Global Slavery Index. India and China are among the top five countries on that index. It was of course good that earlier this year Her Majesty’s Government ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, but perhaps the Minister will tell us when that protocol will come into effect and what penalties will accompany it.

Consider the abuses and exploitation of workers in such places as the cotton mills of Tamil Nadu in India. The mills in that region have supplied high-street retailers such as C&A, Mothercare and Primark. The Flawed Fabrics report, published by the SOMO Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and the India Committee of the Netherlands, details many examples of forced labour abuses. Verité, an organisation promoting fair labour, estimates that 85% of migrant workers in Malaysia alone are in some form of forced labour. Modern slavery is so common in the fashion industry that each of us is probably wearing at least one garment that has been made with some element of forced labour. Modern supply chains are complex, many steps removed from the company, and operate across multiple countries with different approaches to workers’ rights. This year both H&M, the Swedish multinational retail clothing company, and Next found modern slavery during an audit of their supply chain, specifically in the form of Syrian refugee children working in Turkish factories.

On Tuesday, at our meeting, the commissioner reminded us of how Nigerian boys have been lured to England with promises of riches from playing football in the Premier League, but forced into slavery once they arrive. Many people, often immigrants and migrants, are forced into economic servitude, often wholly unremunerated or on paltry wages. It is thought that in industrialised nations, some 360,000 people work in such exploitative conditions.

This is to say nothing of the barbarity which often accompanies enslavement—and outright genocide— of Yazidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State. Their plight was highlighted again this week through the harrowing story of an 18 year-old Yazidi woman, Lamiya Aji Bashar, who was enslaved, raped, tortured and left partially blind and permanently scarred. She was given wonderful help by our colleague, my noble friend Lady Nicholson, who played a central role in Lamiya’s escape. Two of the other enslaved girls who attempted to escape with her were killed. Her 9 year-old sister, Mayada, remains a captive.

On Wednesday this week, along with my noble friend Lady Cox, who has done so much on these issues, I raised the genocide being perpetrated by Khartoum in Sudan’s Nuba mountains and South Kordofan, where enslavement of Africans has been systematic and routine. Just last month, Sudan bombed the St Vincent school in El Obeid. This town in Kordofan is also where, in 1877, a girl aged 7 who had been kidnapped in Darfur was forced to walk for some 600 miles, and was sold and bought by slave traders twice before she even arrived there. She was forced to convert and even her name was taken from her. To ensure permanent scarring, a total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly and right arm. Subsequently, she was bought by Italians and ultimately freed. She then gave her life to the service of others, and in 2000, Josephine Bakhita was declared the patron saint of Sudan. The outcome of this 19th-century story may suggest the triumph of hope over cruelty, but her story, as a trafficked child, is one being repeated even while we meet.

On Wednesday, Mende Nazer, a former slave from the Nuba mountains, was in Parliament. She has described how she was abducted from her home in the Nuba mountains aged 12, and suffered rape and other forms of abuse while working for a family in Khartoum. In 2000, Mende was sent by her host father with false documents to work in the UK. She lived as a house slave for four months at the home of the Sudanese diplomat Abdel Al Koronky in Willesden Green, where she was not allowed to stray further than the front door. She managed to escape and applied for asylum. Her first application was denied two years after it was submitted, but that decision was reversed in November 2002. Understandably, Mende was traumatised by the events of her childhood and adolescence, and struggled to adjust to being free. Her story has been told in the book Slave by Damien Lewis, the TV show “I Am Slave” and the play “Slave—A Question of Freedom”. Some Members of your Lordships’ House may be familiar with that play, as extracts were performed here. Mende founded the Mende Nazer Foundation, which works with Nuba communities to build schools, wells and water purification systems, and she continues to be a fierce advocate of peace and human rights for the Nuba community.

Our Modern Slavery Act is exemplary, but we must not get into too much of a self-congratulatory mode until we have persuaded every country and every sector of society to play their part. Yesterday, the Home Office Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, wrote to me following up my Oral Question on 13 June, when I asked about the plight of 10,000 unaccompanied children who Europol say have gone missing in Europe. I am grateful for the letter, but it does not answer my question of what has happened to those children and whether that number is being added to. I will ask again, and repeat a question asked my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss on an earlier occasion. How many of the unaccompanied children whom we said we would take have actually arrived in the UK?

This is important because the anti-slavery commissioner told us this week that there is a direct connection between this vast exodus of refugees and vulnerable children, and modern-day slavery and trafficking. Indeed, this week the Dutch media reported that hundreds of children are living in what they described as a modern Oliver Twist story, some held against their will and others in thrall to their handlers, as they are forced to beg and steal their way around European cities. Some are just eight years of age. Fagin, the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist should be the characters of Victorian literature, not 21st-century Europe.

On Tuesday, Mr Hyland said that Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, had told him that the figure of 10,000 is a conservative one and that the number is probably higher. Mr Hyland said that there is a “clear” link between trafficking and these crimes, and that it has become a “crime of choice”. I would be grateful if the noble and learned Lord would tell us what action is being taken by the Government about that and about the failure to refer the position of children through the national referral mechanism, especially where minors are involved, on to prosecution.

I realise that I have probably said too much in this debate and will bring my remarks to an end. I just want to press the Minister on something I raised in Committee and at Report and divided the House over, which is the central repository. The noble Lord, Lord Bates, said,

“we want to see these statements in one place so that people can monitor and evaluate them to ensure that the intended action takes place”.—[Official Report, 25/2/15; col. 1750.]

Sadly, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, contradicted that answer in answer to a question from my noble friend Lady Young when he said:

“There never was an intention to establish any central monitoring system with respect to these provisions”.—[Official Report, 13/4/16; col. 256.]

I ask the Minister today, in advance of the opportunity to table amendments in Committee, kindly to outline the Government’s current thinking on the creation of a central repository and tell us which of those two ministerial statements represents the Government’s position.

We must take the Government at their word that they wanted this to be flagship legislation, which is why my noble friend’s Bill is so welcome. I hope that it receives support from right across your Lordships’ House.

 11.20 am

modern slavery

Iran – the persecution of minorities and the use of capital punishment

July 2016: Iran – the persecution of minorities and the use of capital punishment

http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=30613

In its latest Human Rights Priority Country update report on Iran, published on July 21, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted once again that despite “the Iranian constitution only formally recognises 3 religions other than Islam: Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism”, minority religions, and even non-Shi’a Muslims, face persecution and harassment in Iran.

For many years, the plight of religious minorities in Iran, especially the Christian community, has been a priority issue for me and many of my colleagues in the Parliament. We have also highlighted the plight of hundreds of Baha’is who have been killed, executed, tortured or imprisoned, and the tens of thousands who have lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – all solely because of their religious belief.

IRAN BAHA'IS.jpg

Christians in Iran are prevented from openly exercising their belief or promoting their religion.

Any efforts to that end is interpreted by the theocratic regime as an “illegal” act aimed at undermining the security of “the Islamic Republic” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. This leads to the Christian community being systematically harassed and intimidated by the repressive security organs, including the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

So much, too, for Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 insist on freedom of religion or belief – the right to believe, not to believe, or to change your beliefs – and honoured daily in Iran, only in its breach.

Article 18article 18 an orphaned right

This reality makes Iran one of the world’s 10 most inhospitable countries for Christians and in recent years many Christian priests, pastors and believers have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and long prison sentences on trumped up bogus charges.

Two days after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued their latest human rights assessment, reports appeared about the plight of a Christian prisoner, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who has been denied unconditional release by an Iranian court at the request of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS).

Maryam Naghash Zargaran

Maryam’s case, and that of her co-worker, Saeed Abedni, illustrate what is happening to Christians in Iran while the world chooses to look away.

Maryam is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, serving a four-year prison sentence on charges of “acting against national security”.

Evin Prison

Maryam had previously been arrested in January 2013 in connection with her work on an orphanage with the Christian pastor, Saeed Abedini, who was freed from an Iranian prison in January this year as part of a U.S.-Iranian prisoner swap.

At the beginning of July Maryam began a hunger strike – and despite a short reprieve for urgent medical treatment – she is now twenty days into her hunger strike and her condition is causing great concern to her friends and family.

Staff at the prison have confirmed that Maryam’s blood pressure is very low; that she has pains and numbness in her feet – possibly early signs of Multiple Sclerosis – and that she is suffering psychologically as a consequence of her imprisonment.

Maryam had worked with Saeed Abedini, an Iranian American Christian pastor, who was detained while building an orphanage in Iran (his native country) and, in 2012, he was imprisoned on charges of setting up home churches.

In June, following Mr Abedini’s release, he joined tens of thousands of Iranians at the annual gathering of Iran’s democratic opposition movement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in support of a free and democratic Iran.

Saeed Abedini

In his remarks, Mr Abedini recounted the torture and horror that he and many other prisoners of conscience had to endure in the Iranian prisons.

He recalled how prison guards told him he would never come out of prison alive and how he was left in solitary confinement for refusing to make false confessions. Recounting the horror, he described how he saw other prisoners being taken to be hanged.

However, he also pointed out that his very presence in the gathering on that day proves that each act of resistance will be a victory for freedom.

He thanked, the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi for her constant support for the democratic rights of the Iranians, and the religious minorities, including the Christian community.

Just ahead of the gathering in Paris, nearly 80 church leaders from the UK and US, issued a joint statement setting out their “grave concern” at how Iran’s rulers are mistreating Christians.

“Repression of Christians has not only continued but intensified during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani”, the statement said, adding, “In such circumstances, we call on all Western countries to consider the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of Christians and the intensification of their oppression, in navigating their relations with Iran.”

The former Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd. John Pritchard, who also supported the statement, was among many international dignitaries and parliamentarians participating in the Iranians’ greatest gathering for a free and democratic Iran.

In his remarks, Bishop John said, “[I am] overwhelmed to be part of such an extraordinary event … The maltreatment of religious minorities is what the regime is known for. In clear opposition to the Iranian regime we have Maryam Rajavi who symbolises interfaith harmony between Christians and Muslims I am absolutely with you and wish you every success”.

During speeches at the gathering, secular and religious speakers highlighted Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point democratic platform for a future Iran that not only promotes human rights, gender equality and freedom for average Iranian citizens but also envisions an end to the discrimination of the country’s religious and ethnic minorities.

Maryam Rajavi

It is truly unique for a Muslim woman to lead an organised opposition against a theocratic regime and to present such a progressive platform.

I have no doubt that it is in the best interests of anyone who cherishes the right to hold religious beliefs – but who also insists on the rights of those who do not – to support the courageous Mrs.Rajavi and her 10-point democratic platform in Iran.

A country’s greatness can be measured by the way it treats its minorities, upholds diversity and cherishes plurality. In place of a toxic theocratic ideology which spawns hatred and which murders, imprisons, tortures, and oppresses those who dissent, a free and democratic Iran can be a beacon to the rest of the world.

As Mrs Rajavi said in her recent message to Christian leaders of the world, “The Holy Bible teaches us to support and encourage the oppressed … Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed (Isaiah, 1:17).”

Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool, is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords and member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, www.iran-freedom.org. He also writes on https://davidalton.net/

Also see:

https://davidalton.net/2013/08/26/why-we-should-listen-to-the-iranian-resistance/

https://davidalton.net/2012/08/31/iran-and-capital-punishment-why-is-the-world-so-silent-in-face-of-tehrans-appalling-human-rights-record-the-fate-of-gholamreza-khosravi-savajani-facing-execution-in-iran/

https://davidalton.net/2012/11/23/obama-doesnt-have-four-more-years-to-combat-iranian-and-other-forms-of-inflammatory-extremism-in-the-middle-east/

https://davidalton.net/2012/05/24/capital-punishment-against-bahais-christians-homosexuals-and-women-in-iran/

https://davidalton.net/2011/11/30/suveilance-technology-sold-to-iran-article-for-politics-home-and-questions-in-the-house/

https://davidalton.net/2010/12/23/iran-a-study-in-tyranny/

Death Penalty Iran

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Statement by 80 Church leaders from the U.S. and UK in support of the Iranian opposition’s July 9 gathering in Paris

Expressing concern about the increase in suppression of Christians in Iran and calling for conditioning ties with the Iranian regime to an improvement in human rights

Nearly 80 Church leaders and personalities from the United Kingdom and the United States have signed a declaration expressing deep concern over the suppression of Christians in Iran and urging Western governments to condition any improvement of relations with the Iranian regime to an improvement of the human rights situation including the situation of Christians in Iran.

The Bishops, including John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford; and Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester who is the Church of England’s first diocesan bishop, and priests reiterated that the suppression of Christians in Iran has increased during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure.

They added: “Iran’s ruling theocracy is rightly a source of grave concern for human rights organizations and institutions with a particular interest in the protection of the rights of Christians. … Reports by the UN Secretary General, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and the U.S. State Department all indicate that the repression of Christians has not only continued but intensified during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.”

These Christian leaders reiterated: “In such circumstances, we call on all Western countries to consider the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of Christians and the intensification of their oppression, in navigating their relations with Iran. We call upon them to precondition improvement of those relations on the cessation of oppression of Christians and on a halt in executions.”

The bishops and priests declared their support for the major “Free Iran” gathering on July 9 and its objectives in the run-up to the anniversary of the P5+1’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime.

They added: “The time has come for us to listen to the wishes of the Iranian people for freedom, including religious freedom, and to add our voices to the grand international gathering titled ‘Free Iran’ that is to be held on July 9, 2016 in Paris to promote freedom and human rights in Iran.”

 

==========================================================================

Also see –  Amnesty International’s recent Iran report, ‘Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons.’

The report provides a grim snapshot of health care in the country’s prisons and illustrates the way that the Iranian authorities are toying with the lives of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners. It presents strong evidence that the judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison administrations deliberately prevent access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them.

Furthermore, Amnesty International continue to campaign for the release of two British-Iranian individuals interned in Iran.

Kamal Foroughi

Iran - Kamal Foroughi Arrest

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD 0161 660 8087 / 07771 957773 john@cascadenews.co.uk CASCADE NEWS FOR WATFORD OBSERVER Kamal pictured with his son Kamran A man is campaigning to free his elderly father who has been imprisoned for the last four years in an Iranian jail. Kamal Foroughi, a businessman who was working in Tehran as a consultant for the Malaysian national oil and gas company Petronas, was arrested in May 2011 when plainclothes officers picked him up from his flat. They did not show a warrant or give an explanation for his arrest, according to his family.

A 76-year-old British-Iranian Foroughi was working as a consultant for the Malaysian national oil and gas company, Petronas, when he was arrested. International fair trial standards were not followed. He was not charged until a year later, and even then, was not given information regarding the reasons for his detention or the charges against him. He had no access to a lawyer until the day before his trial in early 2013, before Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Amnesty International is campaigning for Kamal Foroughi’s immediate release as well as calling on the Iranian authorities to ensure that he receives any specialised medical care he may require and has access to his medical records.

For the latest on his case click here:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/take-action-now/iran-provide-medical-treatment-to-kamal-foroughi-ua-23315

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe

Nazanin-Zaghari-Ratcliffe

 

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a charity worker, was arrested on 3 April at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport by officials believed to belong to the Revolutionary Guards. She was about to leave Iran to the UK along with her toddler daughter, Gabriella Ratcliffe, after visiting their family in Tehran. Before being taken into custody, she was allowed to leave her daughter in the care of her parents, who had accompanied her to the airport. The authorities have confiscated the passport of her daughter, who holds British nationality. Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was apparently held in a detention facility in Tehran for about a week before being taken to an undisclosed detention centre in Kerman, southern Iran.

 

Amnesty International is campaigning for Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe’s immediate release unless she is promptly charged with an internationally recognisable offence, and urging the Iranian authorities to allow her regular contact with an independent lawyer of her own choosing and visits and phone calls from her family, including her daughter.

 

For the latest on her case click here:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/4068/2016/en/

 

Pope Francis at Auschwitz and why BBC reports of silence during the Holocaust are wrong

 36B0FA7700000578-3714136-Pope_Francis_walks_through_a_gate_with_the_words_Arbeit_macht_fr-a-15_1469778278268Pope Francis at Auschwitz

Pope Francis at Auschwitz

The Cross And The Third Reich – Catholic Resistance In The Nazi Era” by Dr.John Frain

The late John Frain was a constituent of mine and I felt greatly honoured when he asked me to write an introduction to his book on the role of Catholics in opposing Hitler and Nazism.

Dr.Frain  was on my mind this evening as the BBC reported on the visit of Pope Francis to Auschwitz and said the Catholic Church had remained silent in the face of Nazism and the Holocaust.  This is a canard that is either repeated through sheer ignorance or because the facts don’t conveniently fit the story.

The BBC’s reporter clearly didn’t see the irony of stating that the Catholic Church had remained silent in the face of a genocide only to then describe how Polish Catholics were arrested and killed for sheltering Jews and how Fr.Maximilian Kolbe was executed at Auschwitz after taking the place of another prisoner. Why was he in Auscxhwitz in the first place? He had been arrested for publishing a denunciation of the Nazis in his magazine, Knight, which had a circulation of around one million people. Hardly silence, then.

Before they repeat this collective libel perhaps the BBC should read Dr.Frain’s  carefully documented account of how the Church repeated its denunciation of Anti-Semitism and Nazism from 1928 onwards. In that year the Vatican issued a “binding condemnation” of “that hate which is now called Anti-Semitism”.

Dr.Frain also details the year by year condemnations issued by the German bishops: beginning in 1929 with Bishop Johannes Gfollner of Linz warning against “the false prophets” of Nazism and telling the Catholic faithful: “Close your ears and do not join their associations, close your doors and do not let their newspapers into your homes, close your hands and do not support their endeavours in elections.”

In 1930 the Bishop of Mainz declared Nazism and Catholicism to be irreconcilable; in 1933 the bishops of Cologne, Upper Rhine and Paderborn said they would deny the sacraments to anyone involved in parties hostile to Christianity; and the bishops of Bavaria condemned Nazi racism and their eugenic ideology with its scorn for the sanctity of life of the unborn and its belief in euthanasia.

Even before the Second World War began the Reich had compulsorily sterilised 350,000 people and begun the elimination of what it called “useless eaters”, people possessing “life unworthy of life” – which the Vatican condemned in 1933 as government degenerating into cattle breeding laboratories and in 1940 as “contrary to both the natural and the divine positive law.”

In 1937 Pope Pius XI condemned events in Germany stating: “Seldom has there been a persecution so heavy, so terrifying, so grievous and lamentable in its far-reaching effects. It is a persecution that spares neither force, nor oppression, nor threats, nor even subterfuge of intrigue and the fabrication of false facts.” In 1938 he said that no Christian could be Anti-Semitic because “spiritually, we are all Semites.”

Above all others, the story of Bishop von Galen – the Lion of Munster – is one of immense courage and bravery – with Martin Bormann demanding his execution; and Dr. Frain is right to record the details of von Galen’s heroic stand.

von gallen

 

Von-Galen-flowers-and-children

Bishop von Galen described the National Socialists as “the hammer” and “we are the anvil” and “the anvil is harder than the hammer.” He resolutely lived up to his family motto: Nec laudibus nec timore (Neither men’s praise nor fear of men shall move me).

In many ways “The Third Reich and The Cross” is at its very best when it animates us with the spirit of those who gave their lives speaking for truth.

Here are the stories of Erich Klausner, the General Secretary of Germany’s Catholic Action, who was shot dead; Adelbert Prost, Director of the Catholic Youth Sports Association, also murdered; Fritz Gerlich, a Catholic journalist murdered at Dachau (known as “the priest’s camp” because 2,670 priests from around 20 countries were held there: 600 died at Dachau and another 325 died during “transport of invalids”.

We are reminded of the arrest of Catholic politicians, the suppression of Catholic political activity, the confiscation of church property and the suppression of over 200 Catholic publications.

Some stories – those of Blessed Titus Brandsma, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St.Edith Stein are quite well known. Others, such as Fr.Jacques Bunel, Blessed Marcel Callo, Fr.Alfred Delp S.J., Blessed Nikolaus Gross (a miner and Catholic trades unionist), Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian farmer beheaded by the Nazis, Blessed Restituta Kafka, guillotined on Bormann’s orders, Blessed Karl Leisner, Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg (declared “Righteous Among The Nations” at Yad Vashem), Blessed Rupert Mayer S.J., Fr.Max Metzger, Fr.Franz Reinisch, are less well known.

In 1931 there were around 21,000 Catholic priests in Germany and over 8,000 of them, one third, clashed with the Reich and several hundred were eliminated by the Reich.

As Dr.Frain once said to me: “how can any of these facts ever be made to sound like complicity?”

Page after page of his book refutes the libel that German bishops were docile or indifferent when confronted with Nazism.

Perhaps the greatest calumny of all concerns the role of Pope Pius XII. Dr.Frain describes “the cottage industry” of detractors and their failure to objectively examine the facts. He cites Rabbi David Dalin who describes such books as “Best sellers made out of bad history”.

Rabbi Dalin says that “The truth about Pius XII must be restored. This hijacking of the Holocaust must be repudiated.”

Dalin cites Pinchas Lapide, an historian and Israeli consul, who said that Pius XII “was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.” In the context of the 6 million who perished he contrasts this record with the abject failure of others to save the Jews.

In his forensic analysis of the facts Dr.Frain details what the Nazis themselves said about Pius – “he has always been hostile to National Socialism”; “Pacelli was the live spirit which stood behind all the anti-German activities of Rome’s policy.” The Nazis described Pius XII as “Jew loving.”

Most telling of all are the recorded comments of the Jews who were contemporaries of Pius XII.

After the War he was thanked by survivors of the Holocaust and tributes included one from Israel’s first President, Chaim Weizmann and Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel. Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Israel Zolli, became a Catholic and took the Pope’s name as a tribute to him.

At the time of his death, in 1958, Golda Meir said “When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims.” The Jewish Chronicle recorded: “Confronted by the monstrous cruelties of Nazism, Fascism and Communism, he repeatedly proclaimed the virtues of humanity and compassion…many hundreds of fugitive Jews found sanctuary in the Vatican by the Nazis. Such actions will always be remembered.”

There is no doubt that the recent attempts to rewrite this history has placed a barrier between closer Catholic-Jewish relations. This is something which has motivated a New York Jew, Gary Krupp, to found the Pave The Way organisation. He says that a proper understanding of the history of this period, and the role of Pius XII is crucial because “Pius XII, in just one day, hid 7,000 Jews, from the Nazis”. Krupp says he “grew up hating Pius.” Having carefully researched the facts Krupp has come to the conclusion that “he was the greatest hero of World War Two. We can prove it. We have something on our side – documented proof – where the revisionists haven’t a scrap of paper to support their theories.”

One of the most telling refutations of Vatican indifference to the rise of Nazism and the appalling events of the Holocaust came from Albert Einstein who had escaped from Nazi Germany. In 1940 he said: “only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth…I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.”

Those who read this excellent book may not be able to bring themselves to Einstein’s conclusion –  but let us at least examine the whole story rather than endlessly repeat the one we wish to be true.

St.Maximilian Kolbe was taken to Auschwitz for writing “No one in the world can change truth, and beyond the hecatombs of the extermination camps, of what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are defeated in our innermost personal selves”.

Even the BBC can’t change truth – and in a week when we have seen the execution of another Catholic priest perhaps they should think more carefully before casually repeating these canards..

 

See

https://davidalton.net/2011/06/17/the-cross-and-the-third-reich-by-dr-john-frain/

st-maximilian-kolbe-truth-231x300

http://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/the-bbc-lazily-recycles-hoary-canards-about-the-indifference-to-the-holocau/18468

 

Debates on the E.U. Referendum and Modern Day Slavery

EU Referendum

Referendum Debate House of Lords: July 5th 2016.

5.14 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB):

My Lords, the first political meeting that I attended was as a teenager in 1968 to hear an erudite but rather dry speaker extol the virtues of the Common Market. His arguments, but even more so the wartime experiences of my father and grandfather, clinched my support for entering the Common Market. My father had seen action at Monte Cassino and in the north African desert, his brother was killed in the RAF, and their father had been in the Flanders trenches and later in Mesopotamia and the Holy Land. Siegfried Sassoon’s Great War poetry, read in Picardy last week under leaden skies, 100 years after 20,000 British and Empire soldiers lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, vividly recalls those catastrophic events. Sadly, another generation later, such powerful and shocking patriotic experiences seem to have lost much of their resonance.

My support for what became the European Community was also inspired by Europe’s founding fathers: Adenauer, Schuman, Monnet and de Gasperi, who were shaped by their own harrowing wartime experiences at the hands of Nazism and fascism. They were Christian humanists who believed in subsidiarity, solidarity, the promotion of the common good, social justice and reconciliation. It was for those reasons that in 1975, as a young local politician in Liverpool, I campaigned for Britain to stay in the Community, and 67% of the British people agreed.

In the intervening years, what went wrong and what has changed? By 2007, the Community had morphed into a Union and that year I spoke against the Lisbon treaty, because I do not believe in a centralised European superstate, replete with a common currency—so disastrous for countries such as Greece—a European army, or its other trappings. One size does not fit all and is contrary to subsidiarity.

Although I, along with my family, voted to remain in the European Union, it was clear to me that there would be a win for the leave campaign. This was confirmed when I chaired a public debate in Lancashire a week before the vote. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, reminded us about the problems of binary choices; I could not help thinking that if a third option had been available on the ballot paper I would have voted to remain and reform. Binary choices are by definition narrow, when most things in life are invariably more complicated and subtle. Similarly, in Scotland a third option of devo-max—rather than independence or status quo—would have united rather than divided. If we are to have more referenda we should think far more carefully about the questions we ask.

Just before the vote, someone close to me said she did not know anyone who was voting leave. That comment graphically illustrates how dangerously separated and divided our country has become—it is not only on the London Underground that we need to mind the gap. But the spectre of inequality referred to by the most reverend Primate reminds us that not just gaps but chasms are opening up in society. We need to understand that many people feel powerless, disaffected and angry. Many of them are from northern towns and live in poorer communities, dangerously disconnected from the political classes. It would be disingenuous beyond belief to caricature or dismiss all those who voted for Brexit as xenophobes or racists. I say that as someone whose mother was an immigrant whose first language was Irish, and who greatly prizes this nation’s diversity. But let me also be clear that the scapegoating and hate-mongering, and the deployment of poisonous xenophobic arguments not seen since the days of Peter Griffiths, will have long-term consequences for community cohesion. It is much easier to summon up the tempest than to quell it, and to call up the furies than dismiss them. In this respect I echo the remarks made throughout your Lordships’ House. The Government need to act immediately to make it clear that people settled here will not be weaponised in the coming negotiations. Failure to do so will further poison our wells.

Many of the votes cast were angry votes. That anger, fuelled by a scepticism about Europe’s failure to deal with a mass migration of terrified people, was hardly assuaged by Jean-Claude Juncker’s arrogance in telling us just days before this tumultuous referendum that however we voted it would not make any difference. The Junckerism seems to be catching. The noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, said unwisely last week that, “There has to be a way to resist public opinion”. It is bad enough that millions of our poorer citizens believe that the establishment has become impervious to their fate, but it would be unbelievably dangerous to tell 17.5 million people that they will be resisted and not listened to. The key to the future is surely to be found in Article 50, which specifically requires the European Union to listen to an exiting member and, in the words of the article, to take,

“account of the framework for its future relationship”.

This crisis must now be used to create a range of new relationships at every level, perhaps modelled for instance on the EU framework programmes such as Horizon 2020, which is so important to UK science. Switzerland, Israel and Norway are all part of Horizon 2020, but of course are not part of the European Union. It is imperative that political paralysis does not delay work in forging such relationships. These are urgent questions and the Government simply cannot go into hibernation. Skilful negotiators will need wise heads, steely nerves and steady hands to see whether within the framework of subsidiarity, solidarity and the common good we can create new opportunities to live together amicably. We owe it to those who bought our own and Europe’s freedoms with their blood and their lives. We also owe it to all those who now feel marginalised or fearful for their own futures.

5.21 pm

Lord Cormack (Con):

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Alton, has made a thoughtful and wise speech, and I am sure that every Member of your Lordships’ House will endorse completely what he said, and what has been said by so many, about European Union nationals in this country and our nationals in the European Union never becoming a bargaining counter, and how essential it is that that matter is put clearly, firmly and unequivocally as early as possible.

————————————————————————–

Debate on Modern Day Slavery: Friday July 8th 2016 

modern day slavery

11.05 am

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to support the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill, which is being promoted by my noble friend Lady Young of Hornsey. She is a formidable and effective parliamentarian with a long track record in contesting modern-day forms of slavery. Her eloquent speech today was an impressive extension of that record.

I support the requirements in her Bill which would be placed on commercial organisations and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual reports and accounts, and the requirement for contracting authorities to exclude from procurement procedures economic operators which have not provided such a statement. With the United Kingdom Government awarding £45 billion of contracts annually, it is self-evident what leverage this policy could provide in forcing businesses to strengthen their slavery and trafficking statements. I was particularly pleased to see that, following the publication of the BMA’s report in March on the 150 billion medical gloves used globally, not least here in the National Health Service, the BMA is strongly supporting my noble friend’s Bill because there are significant concerns, as we have heard—the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, referred to this—about labour abuses in many of the factories which produce disposable gloves.

This is a very modest Bill and a first step to addressing the concern of the Transparency in Supply Chains Coalition that early indications are that the majority of initial,

“company statements on modern slavery in supply chains appear not to meet the Act’s requirements”.

I am also glad that the Bill is before your Lordships as it enables us to have a broader and wider debate today. It could be used, as others have suggested, to meet the real expectations which we all had of the 2015 Act. Thanks to my noble friend Lady Young, we have the opportunity now to plug some of the gaps left in the legislation. Although the Government opposed my own amendment in 2015 proposing post-legislative scrutiny, my noble friend’s Bill gives us an opportunity to do some of that. We have already heard the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, refer to the extension of the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. We have also heard some concerns raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby, my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss and others about other issues in the Bill: everything from domestic visas to the national referral mechanism and the central repository, which was alluded to by the right reverend Prelate and which I will return to in due course.

Seven years ago, in 2009, I accompanied my noble friend Lady Young to see the then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bach, to support her amendments in Committee to the Coroners and Justice Bill, which sought to make it a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment to hold someone in servitude; and to make it an offence for a person to subject another to forced or compulsory labour where the victim had been threatened with harm if they did not perform the work. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, could not been more receptive or helpful, and I hope that that will set the tone for the response given by the noble and learned Lord to my noble friend’s Bill today.

These abhorrent practices were the issues to which we all returned during the passage of the flagship Modern Slavery Bill. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, I pay particular tribute to the right honourable Theresa May, the Home Secretary—I hope that that tribute does not do her too much damage—and to our own Home Office Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for their diligence and effectiveness in promoting flagship legislation which commanded support across both Houses and all sides of your Lordships’ House.

I might say in parenthesis that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, is due to return to the United Kingdom around 8 August having walked a staggering 2,460 kilometres so far, from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, while raising money for UNICEF and awareness of the 2016 Olympic Truce. Although his sons tease him that he is more “Beer and Grills” than Bear Grylls, he and his wife have, through their earlier walks, already given more than £200,000 to charity.

Through the noble Lord’s work in government, a different gift will be the enduring legacy of the modern slavery legislation, not least the provision which requires businesses with a commercial presence in the UK and a worldwide turnover in excess of £36 million to report annually on steps that the business has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in its supply chains or any part of its own business. However, it was the noble Lord, Lord Bates, himself who admitted that, admirable though the Act was, it would never be the last word on the subject. The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, published only this week, refers to our legislation in the United Kingdom and notes:

“Media and NGOs report compliance so far has been incomplete, in part due to misunderstandings among businesses about what the law requires. Critics noted the lack of monetary or criminal penalties for companies that did not comply with the reporting requirement”.

It is obvious that there is a need for us to go further than we have done even in that admirable 2015 legislation. That need was underlined at a meeting held here, on Tuesday, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association room. Mr Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, said at that meeting that the Act had been judged the world’s third-strongest response to this cancer of modern-day slavery, surpassed only by legislation in the Netherlands and the United States. Nevertheless, it is not perfect and is not a panacea.

During consideration of that legislation, at Second Reading, in Committee and on Report, I argued that modern slavery is, by its very nature, a global phenomenon. It cannot be tackled by one Government alone, but requires a global solution and a concerted and coherent global strategy. We heard again from Kevin Hyland that, for every person trafficked in the UK, there are dozens of children in forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton mills, men and women enslaved in Mauritania, and Syrian children used as child labour in Lebanon. In addition, 90% of North Korean escapees are trafficked in China, women and children are exploited in bonded labour in India and Pakistan, and all over the world women and girls are trafficked into brothels. Your Lordships could recall, too, the fatal consequences of the collapsed garment factory in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and ask themselves whether we are doing enough to deter suppliers that display such a fundamental disrespect for human rights.

On Monday, I met with representatives of India’s Dalit community—so-called “untouchables”—who form a significant proportion of the 21 million people the International Labour Organization says are in forced labour around the world, who in total produce an estimated $150 billion in illicit profits. Then there are the 45 million people estimated to be living in modern slavery by the Global Slavery Index. India and China are among the top five countries on that index. It was of course good that earlier this year Her Majesty’s Government ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, but perhaps the Minister will tell us when that protocol will come into effect and what penalties will accompany it.

Consider the abuses and exploitation of workers in such places as the cotton mills of Tamil Nadu in India. The mills in that region have supplied high-street retailers such as C&A, Mothercare and Primark. The Flawed Fabrics report, published by the SOMO Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and the India Committee of the Netherlands, details many examples of forced labour abuses. Verité, an organisation promoting fair labour, estimates that 85% of migrant workers in Malaysia alone are in some form of forced labour. Modern slavery is so common in the fashion industry that each of us is probably wearing at least one garment that has been made with some element of forced labour. Modern supply chains are complex, many steps removed from the company, and operate across multiple countries with different approaches to workers’ rights. This year both H&M, the Swedish multinational retail clothing company, and Next found modern slavery during an audit of their supply chain, specifically in the form of Syrian refugee children working in Turkish factories.

On Tuesday, at our meeting, the commissioner reminded us of how Nigerian boys have been lured to England with promises of riches from playing football in the Premier League, but forced into slavery once they arrive. Many people, often immigrants and migrants, are forced into economic servitude, often wholly unremunerated or on paltry wages. It is thought that in industrialised nations, some 360,000 people work in such exploitative conditions.

This is to say nothing of the barbarity which often accompanies enslavement—and outright genocide— of Yazidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State. Their plight was highlighted again this week through the harrowing story of an 18 year-old Yazidi woman, Lamiya Aji Bashar, who was enslaved, raped, tortured and left partially blind and permanently scarred. She was given wonderful help by our colleague, my noble friend Lady Nicholson, who played a central role in Lamiya’s escape. Two of the other enslaved girls who attempted to escape with her were killed. Her 9 year-old sister, Mayada, remains a captive.

On Wednesday this week, along with my noble friend Lady Cox, who has done so much on these issues, I raised the genocide being perpetrated by Khartoum in Sudan’s Nuba mountains and South Kordofan, where enslavement of Africans has been systematic and routine. Just last month, Sudan bombed the St Vincent school in El Obeid. This town in Kordofan is also where, in 1877, a girl aged 7 who had been kidnapped in Darfur was forced to walk for some 600 miles, and was sold and bought by slave traders twice before she even arrived there. She was forced to convert and even her name was taken from her. To ensure permanent scarring, a total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly and right arm. Subsequently, she was bought by Italians and ultimately freed. She then gave her life to the service of others, and in 2000, Josephine Bakhita was declared the patron saint of Sudan. The outcome of this 19th-century story may suggest the triumph of hope over cruelty, but her story, as a trafficked child, is one being repeated even while we meet.

On Wednesday, Mende Nazer, a former slave from the Nuba mountains, was in Parliament. She has described how she was abducted from her home in the Nuba mountains aged 12, and suffered rape and other forms of abuse while working for a family in Khartoum. In 2000, Mende was sent by her host father with false documents to work in the UK. She lived as a house slave for four months at the home of the Sudanese diplomat Abdel Al Koronky in Willesden Green, where she was not allowed to stray further than the front door. She managed to escape and applied for asylum. Her first application was denied two years after it was submitted, but that decision was reversed in November 2002. Understandably, Mende was traumatised by the events of her childhood and adolescence, and struggled to adjust to being free. Her story has been told in the book Slave by Damien Lewis, the TV show “I Am Slave” and the play “Slave—A Question of Freedom”. Some Members of your Lordships’ House may be familiar with that play, as extracts were performed here. Mende founded the Mende Nazer Foundation, which works with Nuba communities to build schools, wells and water purification systems, and she continues to be a fierce advocate of peace and human rights for the Nuba community.

Our Modern Slavery Act is exemplary, but we must not get into too much of a self-congratulatory mode until we have persuaded every country and every sector of society to play their part. Yesterday, the Home Office Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, wrote to me following up my Oral Question on 13 June, when I asked about the plight of 10,000 unaccompanied children who Europol say have gone missing in Europe. I am grateful for the letter, but it does not answer my question of what has happened to those children and whether that number is being added to. I will ask again, and repeat a question asked my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss on an earlier occasion. How many of the unaccompanied children whom we said we would take have actually arrived in the UK?

This is important because the anti-slavery commissioner told us this week that there is a direct connection between this vast exodus of refugees and vulnerable children, and modern-day slavery and trafficking. Indeed, this week the Dutch media reported that hundreds of children are living in what they described as a modern Oliver Twist story, some held against their will and others in thrall to their handlers, as they are forced to beg and steal their way around European cities. Some are just eight years of age. Fagin, the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist should be the characters of Victorian literature, not 21st-century Europe.

On Tuesday, Mr Hyland said that Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, had told him that the figure of 10,000 is a conservative one and that the number is probably higher. Mr Hyland said that there is a “clear” link between trafficking and these crimes, and that it has become a “crime of choice”. I would be grateful if the noble and learned Lord would tell us what action is being taken by the Government about that and about the failure to refer the position of children through the national referral mechanism, especially where minors are involved, on to prosecution.

I realise that I have probably said too much in this debate and will bring my remarks to an end. I just want to press the Minister on something I raised in Committee and at Report and divided the House over, which is the central repository. The noble Lord, Lord Bates, said,

“we want to see these statements in one place so that people can monitor and evaluate them to ensure that the intended action takes place”.—[Official Report, 25/2/15; col. 1750.]

Sadly, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, contradicted that answer in answer to a question from my noble friend Lady Young when he said:

“There never was an intention to establish any central monitoring system with respect to these provisions”.—[Official Report, 13/4/16; col. 256.]

I ask the Minister today, in advance of the opportunity to table amendments in Committee, kindly to outline the Government’s current thinking on the creation of a central repository and tell us which of those two ministerial statements represents the Government’s position.

We must take the Government at their word that they wanted this to be flagship legislation, which is why my noble friend’s Bill is so welcome. I hope that it receives support from right across your Lordships’ House.

11.20 am

Mende-Nazer-whose-story-i-007

Mende Nazer

St.Josephine Bakhita

Josephine Bakhita – the slave who became the patron saint of Sudan


 

 

  • I turn to the observations from the noble Lord, Lord Alton. Again, he referred to early indications of how the Act is being complied with. I underline that point: these are only early indications. We have to look further and consider how the Act is going to bed in. In my submission, it is too early to suggest that we should be tinkering with the legislation before we know how it is actually going to work in practice. He also alluded to the alleged lack of any monetary penalty for those who simply ignore the provisions of the Act. I remind noble Lords that the provisions are civil. The Secretary of State has the right to bring injunctive proceedings against a company that persistently fails to obtemper its Section 54 obligations, and if it still fails thereafter to obtemper those obligations it will be in contempt of court and liable to an unlimited fine.
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool

Before the Minister leaves that point, he will recall that in fact the quotation was not mine; it was from the US State Department’s observation about the working of our Act. I believe it is important to get the question of penalties on the record so I am grateful to him for doing that, but will he return to the question of post-legislative scrutiny? He will recall that, when I moved amendments in 2015 on that subject, the Government opposed them. Is there not a strong case for at least saying that there will come a point where, just as there was pre-legislative scrutiny of this legislation, which was incredibly effective, there will be post-legislative scrutiny so that we can decide what is working and what is not? Then it will not be a question of “tinkering”, as he put it.

I am grateful to the noble Lord. I understood that he had quoted the US source because he agreed with it, not because he simply wanted to put it into play. Be that as it may, I also observe that there is provision for review under the terms of the Act, albeit a five-year period. I am not suggesting that we wait that long

 

Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I raised with him the position of minors and those who have been referred through the national referral mechanism when it has not led to any kind of criminal action being taken on their behalf. Will he agree to write to me on that subject?

The noble Lord also reminds me that he raised the question of children coming from Europe under the immigration scheme. He may appreciate that I do not have figures on these matters for the purposes of this debate, but I will be content to write to him on the point he has just raised.

12.12 pm

modern-day-slavery-GOOGLE

Also see:

https://davidalton.net/2015/02/26/modern-day-slavery-and-human-trafficking-update-on-the-latest-amendments-and-debates-on-the-modern-day-slavery-bill/

 

Khartoum bombs a primary school and tortures students as Waging Peace Organise Demonstration. Darfur and South Kordofan- the killing continues. Government Minister says Countries Should Not Permit Sudan’s Wanted President To Travel With Impunity

 

 

Sudan – Questions in Parliament

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the government of Rwanda about the visit to that country by Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.   HL1256

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth about recent visits to Rwanda and Uganda by Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.   HL1257

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the imposition of sanctions and penalties on countries that host visits by those indicted for genocide or crimes against humanity such as Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan; and what discussions they have had with other signatories to the creation of the International Criminal Court about that issue.   HL1258

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to table a resolution for discussion at the UN Security Council drawing attention to the failure of member states to assist the International Criminal Court in bringing to justice those indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.   HL1259

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)  – July 6th 2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nuba-reports-kauda-school_us_5749c06ce4b055bb11725974

My Lords, does the Minister recall that as long ago as 17 May 2012, my noble friend Lady Cox and I cited the view of Dr Mukesh Kapila, the former high representative of this country in Sudan, that the second genocide of the 21st century was unfolding in South Kordofan, Darfur being the first? In February of this year we raised the Human Rights Watch report detailing how civilians, including children, were,

“burned alive or blown to pieces after bombs or shells landed on their homes”.

One month ago, on 27 May, two days after the bombing of St Vincent’s school on 25 May, the noble Baroness told me that they had told Khartoum that they must,

“distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and uphold International Humanitarian Law”.

What response have the Government had? When will President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for genocide, be brought to justice?

BBaroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, first, the noble Lord will understand that I was extremely disappointed—using House of Lords language—that President Bashir was able to travel to Djibouti on 8 May and Uganda on 12 May without being arrested by those countries, which are signatories to the ICC. I hope they will reconsider if he ever travels to those countries again. We welcome the Government of Sudan’s more recent announcement on 17 June of a unilateral cessation of hostilities in the two areas. As we say, we would like to see it extended to Darfur, and we are working to make that a reality.

Primary School Bombed in Latest String of Civilian Attacks

sudan school bombed_

‘The Sudan government continues to target children in the ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains. On Wednesday afternoon, a government warplane bombed a leading primary school in Kauda, Sudan, wounding a Kenyan teacher. The Sudan Sukhoi jet dropped two parachute bombs into the compound of the St. Vincent Primary School at the Diocese of El Obeid, damaging classrooms and library.’ Read more. Nuba Reports, 27/05/2016.

HRW: Students and activists at risk of torture in Sudan

‘Sudanese national security officials have detained dozens of students and activists without charge since mid-April 2016 during protests on university campuses Human Rights Watch said in a statement yesterday.’ Read more. Radio Tamazuj, 26/05/2016.

 

 

DavidAlton.net

 Darfur

News From Waging Peace

5th ANNIVERSARY OF CONFLICT IN NUBA MOUNTAINS AND BLUE NILE

Waging Peace

Since 2011 civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Niles states in Sudan have endured regular aerial bombardment by the Sudanese armed forces – the latest and most shocking example of which included the well-publicised murder of six children in Heiban. As a result of the systematic bombing of farms and markets, those who have survived are facing starvation. In addition, and in direct contradiction of long-established international humanitarian norms, schools and hospitals have been deliberately targeted by the Khartoum regime.  We invite you to join us to demonstrate against these atrocities.  Please see details below:

5th ANNIVERSARY OF CONFLICT IN NUBA MOUNTAINS AND BLUE NILE

Demonstration to mark the 5th anniversary of conflict in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, Sudan.

Saturday, 4th June

  • 1pm Sudanese Embassy, 3 Cleveland Row, St. James, London SW1A 1DD

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