Hostile Environment

“You shall not wrong nor oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:20).

A refugees is… “a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” (Article 1, Refugee Convention 1951)

The last decade has posed enormous challenges to the human rights that establish a humane, just and dignified life for people reaching British shores. Policies in the UK have created an ever more hostile environment to migrants and refugees. A new detention centre for women opened in 2021, the Nationality and Borders Act has criminalised refugees based on how they reach the UK, and made support for modern slavery even harder to come by. Meanwhile the government continues to expand its plans to detain and deport anyone who arrives here on a small boat, regardless of their plight, to Rwanda. This same system will ban these individuals from access modern slavery support. 

Jewish bloc at Manston protest, 2022

At René Cassin we believe that the British public, and the Jewish community, have an important stake in maintaining a domestic protection system for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Throughout history, the ability to seek refuge has been essential to Jewish survival. The horrors of the Holocaust led to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention).

For this reason, René Cassin has built- and continues to build- a Jewish challenge to the hostile environment. From a network of Jews challenging immigration detention, to workshops with synagogues on how to spot the signs of modern slavery, our campaign against the hostile environment remakes the case for a compassionate approach to asylum and migration. 

Campaign priorities include:

  • To challenge indefinite immigration detention and promote alternatives to detention.
  • To expand the support for a specific safe routes policies.
  • To support national policy campaigns for improved slavery survivor support.

What people say...

“This is such a powerful submission, thank you so much for sharing. You really do such incredible work.”

Partner organisation in response to our submission to the Joint Committee for Human Rights inquiry on Illegal Migration Bill, April 2023

Anti-slavery day 2021

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