It’s been a very busy three months since I was in touch with you. Here’s a very brief run-down of what René Cassin has been doing since our last newsletter.
We have achieved a notable success in our call to end indefinite asylum detention. As a result of exerted pressure from civil society, the Government will no longer detain pregnant women indefinitely and will allow, for the first time ever, automatic judicial oversight within the system.
René Cassin’s meeting in Parliament on 20 April was perfectly timed to influence MPs and Peers as they debated final amendments to the relevant legislation. A room packed with activists and Parliamentarians was moved by the testimonies of ex-detainees and heard powerful speeches by faith leaders and politicians.
The Government’s concessions are significant and welcome – but the scandal of indefinite detention remains. Momentum is on our side, however, and René Cassin is determined to fight on.
- Read a report of the event in the Jewish Chronicle
- ‘Put a key on your Seder plate’ – read about our Pesach #key for freedom campaign
More on our work on asylum
- “Excellent. Highly informative, engaging and really helped unpack what is otherwise an incredibly (over)complex area of law” – the view of a delegate at our recent asylum workshops where we gave 20 people from the Jewish community intensive training on how the asylum system works in practice. We aim to repeat these popular sessions in November. Email [email protected] for more information.
- Seeking refuge from persecution abroad, facing hostility whipped up by the popular press, interned on the whim of a Prime Minister – familiar story, unfamiliar context – Jewish refugee, Fritz Lustig, recalls his detention on the Isle of Man in 1940.
- And, speaking of the popular press – “The public has been willing to be both incensed by foreigners seeking aid and to be moved by heart wrenching personal stories and devastating images of refugees” – René Cassin’s Catherine O’Neill looks at media coverage of the refugee crisis.
- René Cassin in the British Medical Journal? True! The BMJ’s online discussion on migrants being denied healthcare name-checks us as an organisation ‘highlighting the lack of rights in the detention system’. An example of how René Cassin’s work is reaching an increasingly diverse audience.
Working to save the Human Rights Act
In the Queen’s Speech on 18 May, the Government announced that ‘proposals will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights’. The anodyne wording hides that fact that it plans to repeal the Human Rights Act. René Cassin remains passionately committed to fighting to save the HRA.
- We recently met Dominic Raab, Minister for Human Rights, to express our concerns
- “It should be with grave unease that we as Jews should contemplate the possibility that this country might repeal the Human Rights Act” – Jonathan Wittenberg blogs after René Cassin brings together Rabbis and Shami Chakrabarti, former Director of Liberty
- “We stand firm on guaranteeing universal human rights protections for generations to come” On 18 May, we joined a wide range of 147 organisations, including Hillsborough families, Lockerbie relatives and domestic violence survivors, to sign a pledge to save the HRA.
Other campaigning work
- “Gypsies are the most underprivileged ethnic minority group in Britain. Any behaviour that pushes us down, or makes things harder for us to succeed needs to be addressed in the most forceful way.” – René Cassin volunteer, Rachel, with an insider’s view of attempts to play down racism in international rugby
- Our Campaign Groups on:
- Indefinite detention of asylum seekers
- Discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
- Modern Day Slavery
- Repeal of the Human Rights Actare up and running. We are looking for volunteers to get involved in the Slavery and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups. Interested? Please email [email protected]
René Cassin Fellowship Programme
The 2015-16 Fellowship cohort graduated on 12 April – at an event featuring an extremely informative analysis of the current refugee crisis from René Cassin advisor Dr Ruvi Ziegler, of Reading University.We welcome our graduating Fellows into our alumni programme. We hope to launch the next RCFP cohort in January 2017. For more information, please email [email protected]
A farewell to Clemens Nathan – friend of Monsieur René Cassin
“Borne out of the ashes of the Shoah, Clemens believed that the Declaration was a global attempt to proclaim the imperative ‘never again’. Never again would there be such inhumanity.” Clemens was a long-time friend and colleague of our inspirational namesake, Monsieur René Cassin, co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. René Cassin trustee, Alex Goldberg, spoke at a recent memorial seminar – read his address in full.
Please support our work
We are a small charity – but one with a great deal of important work to do. We rely on the generosity of our supporters for the funds to continue these vital campaigns. Please support that work by making a donation today, via our website –http://www.renecassin.org/donate/
If you have any comments or questions about René Cassin and our work, I would love to hear from you – please email me at [email protected].
With best wishes