Following one of the most bruising and divisive public debates in recent memory, the British public voted to instruct the government to leave the European Union. The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, in recognition of the diversity of opinion among its members, took no official position in the debate, and we have no desire to return to the arguments that dominated the campaign.
The Haldane Society, however, notes with alarm the poisonous atmosphere in which this public debate took place, and expresses its dismay at the way that race and identity was weaponised by both Leavers and Remainers to sway public opinion. This was a campaign that saw Prime Minister David Cameron use the threat of Kent being overrun by refugees to scare voters long before Nigel Farage unveiled one of the most despicable pieces of racist propaganda seen in modern British political history.
Following the vote for Brexit, reports of race hate crimes have peaked at five times pre-referendum levels. This comes as little surprise after an ugly and hostile campaign where the public were encouraged to blame immigrants for their problems. The Haldane Society condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of xenophobia and racism. We express our solidarity with those who are facing an uncertain future and do not feel welcome in the UK (whether born in the UK or not). The Haldane Society urges its members to stand in solidarity with those who are victims of the post-referendum atmosphere.
The Haldane Society further expresses its outrage over the position of the government on the status of EU migrants currently living in the UK. Having been denied their say in the vote, many EU citizens are understandably fearful for their place in the country. Yet, rather than allay their concerns, leading figures in the government have shamefully elected to make their status a bargaining tool in future negotiations with the European Union.
The Haldane Society recognises the essential contribution that EU nationals make to public life and stands in solidarity with them. We call upon the government to give immediate effect to the expressed will of the House of Commons and guarantee that those exercising their Treaty rights will have their current status and privileges protected, regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with the EU.
The Haldane Society rejects fascism and racism both on the streets and dressed up in political discourse. We stand for the abolition of all borders and complete free movement of people. We recognise that immigration controls are racist in themselves and that much of the inequality between nations is as a result of previous and ongoing colonialism, of which western nations such as the UK have greatly benefited. The Haldane Society will continue to campaign to fight the scapegoating of migrants and to fight for true equality as well as to put an end to the UK’s unjust and racist immigration system.
 Jon Stone, “David Cameron says Calais refugee camps could move to Kent after EU exit,” The Independent, 8 February 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/migrant-refugee-camp-calais-britain-brexit-eu-exit-david-cameron-kent-a6860466.html
 Mark Chandler, “EU Referendum: Nigel Farage slammed over Brexit poster showing queue of migrants,” Evening Standard, 16 June 2016, available at http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/eu-referendum-nigel-farage-slammed-over-brexit-poster-showing-queue-of-migrants-a3273836.html
 Hayden Smith & Claire Hayhurst, “Three race hate crimes every hour since EU referendum say Met Police,” The Independent, 5 July 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-race-hate-crime-eu-referendum-met-police-a7121401.html
 Jessica Elgot, “Labour motion on EU migrants ‘right to remain’ passes Commons vote,” The Guardian, 6 July 2016, available at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/06/boris-johnson-to-back-labour-motion-on-eu-migrants
Meeting a Pressing Need
Members of the Haldane Society along with sister associations across the world are collaborating to set up a legal centre in Lesbos to provide legal information to those within the various refugees camps found on the Greek Island.
The Refugee Crisis
Europe is in the throes of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Millions have made the long, arduous and perilous journey to Europe by land or sea from the Asian and the African continents to flee from the effects of war in those regions.
According to the IOM, 206,400 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea between January and the first week of June this year. In the same period, 2,809 have died attempting to make the journey, marking an increase in fatalities of 52% compared to the first 6 months of 2015.
With the causes of this crisis continuing unmitigated, the coming months are expected to see the death toll again rise.
Once those who take the route through Turkey arrive in Lesbos, the majority are detained without access to a lawyer and unaware of their legal rights whilst on the Island. Thousands anxiously wait to see whether they will be transferred back to Turkey, a country controversially considered ‘a safe third country’ despite its arbitrary detention, refoulement and shooting of refugees.
Legal Centre Lesbos
Considering the level of the crisis in the Mediterranean generally, and Lesbos in particular, a group of volunteer lawyers and legal students have decided to set up a legal centre on the Island.
The Centre aims to provide solidarity with the inhabitants of the various camps by providing legal information regarding their rights which empowers them to make important decisions regarding their immediate future. This includes informing them of their options in relation to family reunification and their possible relocation to other parts of Europe.
Incredibly, legal aid for representation is currently not granted for most matters relating to asylum. In cases involving the highest levels of vulnerability, the Centre will assist in providing for their representation through Greek lawyers on the ground.
The Legal Centre also intends to bring legal challenges and create campaigns focusing on the detention of asylum seekers on the Island, their conditions of detention, delays in the asylum system and their possible return to Turkey, amongst other issues.
The Legal Centre has been endorsed by various Association from across the world, including:
- The International Association of Democratic Lawyers
- European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights
- Asociación Americana de Juristas
- Alternative Intervention of Athens Lawyers (Greece)
- Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers (Greece)
- Associazione Dei Giuristi Democratici (Italy)
- Indian Association of Lawyers (India)
- Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (UK)
- Juristes Democrates de Suisse (Switzerland)
- German Association of Democratic Lawyers (Germany)
If you would like to support the establishment of a Legal Centre in Lesbos, you can donate at https://chuffed.org/project/legalcentrelesbos
The coordinator of this project, Carlos Orjuela of the Haldane Executive, can be contacted on email@example.com.
The Haldane Society invites you to join us for a very special seminar, 'Women's Revolution in Rojava', in association with the Kurdish Student Society and Peace in Kurdistan - Women Alliance.
- Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist, and Jo Magpie, activist and writer. Both women have recently returned from a women's delegation to Rojava, the autonomous region of northern Syria which has, experienced a social revolution and the establishment of a new society based on gender equality, direct democracy and sustainability. Rahila and Jo will share their first-hand experiences of how the Kurds have put women's equality at the foundation of a successful, free society.
- Also joining us is Margaret Owen, a UK barrister and human rights activist who has also travelled to the region. She will discuss the newly evolving legal system in Rojava and approaches to violence against women.
The seminar will be held on Tuesday 7th June 2016 at 6.30pm,
SOAS Brunei Gallery Building, Room B111, Thornhaugh St, London, WC1H 0XG
The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers is one of the supporters of the PREVENT, Islamaphobia, & Civil Liberties National Conference on 4 June 2016 (London venue TBC).
Donations to support the event can be made (£5-£10 suggested) and tickets (£5 / £3 concession) can be purchased at https://challengingprevent.com/tickets/.
The Haldane Society invites you to join us for a discussion of the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, from a socialist perspective. Socialists have split on the issue, with some claiming that leaving will be a blow to austerity and neoliberalism, whilst others argue that it will simply harm those who are weakest in our society and take away hard-won rights.
We will be joined by speakers from both sides of the referendum debate and strongly encourage participation from the floor.
The event will take place on Thursday 9 June 2016 at 6pm-8.30pm at the School of Law, London Metropolitan University, 16 Gouldston Street, Aldgage, London E1 7TP. All are welcome. Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.
The Labour Party is currently undertaking the Bach Review into legal aid. The submission below was prepared by the Haldane Society in response to a request for submissions.
The submission advocates for the restoration of the areas of the funding affected by years of cuts, notes the terrible impact on individuals of the removal of legal aid, and highlights the position of those at the junior end of the profession who are no longer able to make ends meet because of the cuts.
Following the success of the Women Fighting Back: International and Legal Perspectives conference in November 2015 with its focus in part on the effect of deception on consent, and the impact of this on women, the Haldane Society is proud to announce our next human rights lecture, "Sex by deception: The case for conditional consent".
The speakers are:
- Jane Fae, a writer and journalist with a long0time focus on the law and how it interacts with issues of sexuality and gender identity.
- Julian Norman, a barrister at Dtystone Chambers with a practice in immigration, criminal and regulatory law. She is also a trustee of Feminism in London.
- Stephen Whittle, professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The lecture will take place at 6.30pm on 25 April 2016 at the Basement Lecture Theatre, School of Law, London Metropolitan University, 16 Goulston Street, London E1 7TP. Closest tubes Aldgate and Aldgate East.
There is no need to register (although you can RSVP to the Facebook event) and latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.
The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers has sent the below letter of protest to the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United Kingdom, regarding the massacre at Kipadawan City.
The recording of our 4 February 2016 lecture, Free Her! Women Political Prisoners is now available to view below.
The speakers were Dr Radha D’Souza and Shiva Mahbobi
- Radha practiced as a barrister in the High Court of Bombay and taught at the Universities of Auckland and Waikato in New Zealand before coming to University of Westminster. She is a freelance writer and social justice activist.
- Shiva is a former political prisoner in Iran, women's rights activist, broadcaster, and the spokesperson for the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI).