Newsfeeds

News from Ekklesia

  • Supermarket giants flood UK with 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging every year

    The full extent of UK supermarket giants’ contribution to the plastic waste problem has been exposed inthe most comprehensive analysis of the sector to date.

    The full extent of UK supermarket giants’ contribution to the plastic waste problem has been exposed in Checking out on plastics,the most comprehensive analysis of the sector to date.

    Drawing on detailed figures disclosed by firms for the first time, the survey of Britain’s largest supermarkets and grocery chains reveals ten major retailers are placing over 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic on the market every year. Seven of them are putting in circulation the equivalent of some 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging – over 2,000 items for every household in the country.

    Despite their huge plastic footprint, half of the supermarkets surveyed have no specific targets to reduce plastic packaging and most of those who do are moving at such a slow pace (just five per cent per year) that it would take them 20 years to completely rid their shelves of throwaway plastic.

    The survey by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace UK also ranks retailers based on their commitments to reduce single-use plastic, eliminate non-recyclable plastic packaging, engage with supply chains and transparent reporting. Iceland comes out ahead of the pack thanks to an ambitious plan for phasing out own-brand plastic packaging within five years, while most major retailers, including Tesco and Asda, are lagging further down the scoreboard, with Sainsbury’s at the bottom of the league.

    Following a series of announcements from retailers about their action on plastic waste, the survey aimed to establish how far supermarkets are actually going in tackling the problem. It found that:

    • On top of the plastic packaging already mentioned, the 10 leading supermarkets are also producing 1.1 billion single-use bags, almost one billion bags for life and 1.2 billion plastic produce bags for fruit and vegetables
    • Many supermarkets have not yet adopted plastic-specific reduction targets, including Aldi, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose
    • Only four supermarkets offer customers some options to use refillable containers – an effective way to reduce single-use packaging. There remains considerable scope for supermarkets to scale-up refillable and unpackaged product ranges
    • In general, retailers are focusing more on recycling than reduction, and even here, most have only committed to eliminate non-recyclable plastic packaging by 2025. Co-op tops the leaderboard for share of own-brand products that are widely recyclable (79 per cent), while most others fall behind with around a third of their plastic (by weight) not widely recyclable
    • Despite branded goods making up as much as 60 per cent of retailers’ plastic packaging, few retailers were able to provide evidence that they use their buying power to push big consumer brands to reduce their plastic footprint
    • Many supermarkets have taken action to end sales or provision of disposable items such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds, ahead of a planned Government ban, and many are also committed to phasing out the most problematic forms of plastic, such as PVC, expanded polystyrene and black plastic, within the next two years. But no supermarket has pledged to completely remove plastic that cannot be recycled from its shelves before 2022
    • Ocado was the only major grocery retailer who refused to participate in the survey, along with the convenience chains, Spar, Premier Stores, Londis, Lifestyle Express and Best-One

    Commenting on the findings, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner Elena Polisano said: Plastic pollution is now a full-blown environmental crisis and our supermarkets are right at the heart of it. Much of the throwaway plastic packaging filling up our homes comes from supermarket shelves, but high-street giants are still not taking full responsibility for it. So far most retail bosses have responded to growing concern from customers with a pick-and-mix of different plastic announcements, but have failed to come up with the coherent plastic reduction plans required to solve this problem.

    “The success of the plastic bag charge shows big retailers can crack down on plastic waste if they really mean to. Every little may well help, but if we are to protect our natural world and ourselves from pervasive plastic pollution, supermarkets need to check out on throwaway plastic fast.”

    Sarah Baulch, EIA Senior Ocean Campaigner, said: “Decisions taken by supermarkets today are resulting in thousands of plastic items flooding British homes every year. Despite public pressure for action on plastic being at an all-time high, our survey shows that UK supermarket giants are failing to keep up. With just seven supermarkets putting over 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging through their tills every year, the true scale of their footprint is now becoming apparent.  

    “It is abundantly clear that we cannot simply recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis, and yet this remains the priority area of focus for many major chains. Retailers must pioneer new ways to reduce their plastic footprint across the entire supply chain. Waste from the UK impacts wildlife and communities around the world and it’s high time that supermarkets move beyond incremental change and fundamentally rethink their relationship with single-use plastic packaging.”

    Plastic production has soared twentyfold in the past half-century and, at the current rate, is expected to quadruple by 2050. In the UK, the grocery retail sector is the largest user of plastic packaging, accounting for over half of the 1.5 million tonnes of consumer plastic packaging used in retail every year.

    In June, a Populus poll showed 91 per cent of the UK public believe supermarkets should be working to reduce the amount of overall packaging they use, while nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) think big retailers are not doing enough about plastic packaging to tackle the problem of plastic pollution.

    Over 740,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition urging supermarkets to ramp up efforts to reduce throwaway plastic.

    Greenpeace and the EIA are calling on supermarkets to:

    • Set year-on-year targets to reduce their single-use plastic footprint;
    • Urgently eliminate unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic packaging by the end of 2019;
    • Introduce transparency by publishing yearly audits of single-use plastic use.
    • * Read Checking out on plasticshere
    • * Greenpeace UK https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/
    • [Ekk/4]
  • UN human rights experts suspend Hungary visit after access denied

    UN experts have been denied access to 'transit zones' at the border with Serbia where migrants and asylum seekers are deprived of their liberty.

    UN human rights experts have taken the unprecedented step of suspending an official visit to Hungary after they were denied access to the Röszke and Tompa 'transit zones' at the border with Serbia where migrants and asylum seekers, including children, are deprived of their liberty.

    “There can be no doubt that holding migrants in these ‘transit zones’ constitutes deprivation of liberty in accordance with international law”, said Elina Steinerte and Sètondji Roland Adjovi, members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. “We have received a number of credible reports concerning the lack of safeguards against arbitrary detention in these facilities which called for a visit by the Working Group.”

    Hungary had invited the delegation to conduct the visit from 12 to 16 November 2018 in order to follow up on its 2013 recommendations.

    Under the terms of reference for visits by independent experts appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council, governments are required to guarantee freedom of inquiry  particularly as regards to “confidential and unsupervised contacts with persons deprived of their liberty”. The experts said they regretted that the Hungarian authorities have not respected those undertakings and as a result the Working Group was prevented from fulfilling its mandate.

    “Unimpeded access to all places of deprivation of liberty including these transit zones must be guaranteed to independent international, regional and national organisations”, the experts said. “This is vital for the protection of the human rights in a country governed by rule of law.”

    The Working Group said it hoped that the Government of Hungary would enter into a constructive dialogue to enable the delegates resume their visit in the near future and to work together to establish effective safeguards against the risk of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in Hungary.

    The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by the former Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In September 2016, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.

    * Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/Home.aspx

    [Ekk/6]

  • Government must rein in drugs companies over spiralling NHS medicines bill, say campaigners

    Seven of the 20 most expensive medicines were developed from publicly-funded research.

    Health campaigners have warned that the NHS drugs bill will continue to spiral unless the government takes action to tackle the exploitative behaviour of pharmaceutical companies, after NHS England statistics released on 15 Novenber 2018 showed the NHS spent a record £20.2 billion on prescription drugs last year based on list prices. The figure was a 10.9 per cent rise on the previous year, meaning the cost of medicines continues to rise far faster than the NHS budget, despite the financial boost announced by the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, last month estimated as an annual increase of 3.1 to 3.6 per cent.

    The pressure group Global Justice Now warned that the government needs to take a much stronger role in regulating the pharmaceutical industry if the drugs bill is to be got under control and patients are not to miss out on essential treatments. It follows news that the family of a girl with cystic fibrosis have launched a legal challenge after being denied access to breakthrough drug Orkambi, for which manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals is demanding over £100,000 per year and after years of negotiation has refused to offer the drug at a price the NHS can afford.

    Heidi Chow, pharmaceuticals campaigner at Global Justice Now, said: “It is outrageous that the NHS is paying such high prices for existing drugs. At the same time, patients are being denied access to effective drugs, even though they exist, because their price tag is just too high for the NHS. We treasure the principle of public healthcare for all, free at the point of use, but this is undermined by our system of privatised medicines. We have to question what is going wrong in this system and recognise that medicines are not luxury goods like handbags, but an urgent necessity. The government must take a much more pro-active role in safeguarding patient access to essential treatments.”

    The figures also revealed that for the second year running, the NHS spent over £1 billion on medicines where public funding played a substantial role in their development – seven out of the list of the top 20 medicines by spend. A total of £1.3 billion was spent on these medicines in 2017 including arthritis treatment Infliximab and adalimumab that treats a range of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.
     
    Chow continued: “Once again the NHS is putting vast sums towards medicines developed out of publicly-funded research, meaning the public is paying twice. It is time to get a public return on that investment by attaching conditions to public funding so that drugs produced from public research are affordable and accessible for the he NHS as well as other countries around the world.”

    A Global Justice Now report on health innovation, released last month with the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, STOP AIDS and Just Treatment, found that the high prices of medicines are causing severe patient access problems worldwide with damaging consequences for health and wellbeing. It outlined a range of policy measures to overhaul the health innovation system, from reforms to intellectual property rules to changes to corporate governance structures.

    As an immediate policy action, the report called on governments to pursue their legal right, under World Trade Organsisation rules, to procure affordable generic versions of patented medicines, if companies refuse to drop their prices to levels affordable to national health systems such as the NHS. This could mean huge savings for the NHS. For example, evidence shows that the prices the UK pays for some cancer medicines could be reduced by between 75 per cent and 99.6 per cent if they could be procured as generics.

    * Read The People’s Prescription: Re-imagining health innovation to deliver public value here

    * Global Justice Now https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/

    [Ekk/6]

  • CND condemns Faslane safety record

    The letter reveals 505 nuclear safety incidents at the Faslane naval base in the last 12 years.

    Anti-nuclear campaigners have responded to a letter from the Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, which has revealed 505 nuclear safety incidents at the Faslane naval base in the last 12 years.

    Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, said: “When the MoD took the decision to censor annual nuclear safety reports which had previously been made public, we feared that safety at Faslane was worsening.

    “While we welcome a return to a degree of transparency, the figures in the defence minister’s letter confirm our fears, revealing a catalogue of accidents in the last three years. Many of these incidents involved the Trident submarines which carry Britain’s nuclear weapons.

    “The incidents add to the dire warnings in September’s Public Accounts Committee report which revealed serious infrastructure problems, including huge delays and overspending.

    “We hope to see a return to annual reports of the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator being made available to the public and more transparency in general. This information is a requirement in a functioning democracy.

    “It was disgraceful to discover last year that the government had covered-up a failed Trident missile test and this crucial information was held back while MPs were deciding on the future of Trident during a Parliamentary vote in 2016.”

    * Read the letter from the Minister for Defence Procurement to Deirdre Brock MP here

    * Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament https://cnduk.org/

    [Ekk/6]

  • Dungavel House IRC found to provide high-quality care but to lack investment

    Staff have an ingrained sense of repect and a committment to Scottish hospitality.

    Dungavel House immigration removal centre (IRC) in Lanarkshire was found by inspectors to have maintained high standards of care, though the centre had deteriorated physically and staff now felt under stress because of persistent shortages.

    Dungavel House, Scotland’s only IRC, has a capacity of up to 249 detainees but held only around 80, including some women, in July 2018. The IRC is an old hunting lodge run of behalf of the Home Office by GEO Group UK Ltd.

    Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said staff had been a “traditional and exceptional strength of Dungavel.” The report noted an “ingrained sense of respect from staff” and quoted staff as saying: “We like to show them Scottish hospitality.”

    “We were pleased to see that the positive, welfare-focused staff culture seen previously had been maintained,” Mr Clarke said. “This is a precious resource that custodial institutions often struggle to embed, and it was therefore concerning to find indications of a more frustrated and often tired staff group.” Their generally positive comments to inspectors were “punctuated by unhappiness at persistent staff shortages and the lack of investment in Dungavel.

    “Indeed, our principal concern was that the physical environment for detainees had been allowed to deteriorate. Many areas looked shabby and run down and some showers and toilet areas were in very poor condition. While there were plans to deal with these issues, the necessary investment was long overdue.”

    There was little violence or use of force at Dungavel House. Many detainees said they felt unsafe but told inspectors this was because of their fear of removal and the uncertainties associated with open-ended detention – not a fear of physical harm in the centre. Some women told inspectors they received unwanted male attention, which they ignored, though there were no recent reported incidents of women having significant problems with male detainees. Overall, however, Mr Clarke said: “Equality work lacked rigour and there was still not enough focus on the specific needs of women detainees.”

    Detainees had much better access to legal aid than in England and Wales, which helped them to manage the stress associated with some complex cases. Mr Clarke added: “While some detainees had been in detention for too long, we found few examples of very long detentions.”

    Reports on cases assessed under Rule 35 – which states the Home Office must be notified if a centre doctor considers a detainee’s health to be injuriously affected by continued detention or the conditions of detention, or if a detainee may have been a victim of torture or has suicidal intentions – contained clear judgments and over a quarter led to release, more than at other recent IRC inspections. Nevertheless, Mr Clarke said, “in most of the cases we examined in detail, the Home Office replies accepted evidence of torture but did not consider this sufficient to justify release from detention.”

    Overall, Mr Clarke said: “Dungavel House continues to provide a high standard of care to detainees. We identified some slippage in outcomes and had concerns about the vulnerability of some of those detained. However, outcomes remained good in most areas and centre managers were clear about what they had to do to make further improvements. Preserving the staff culture that has allowed Dungavel to repeatedly produce the best inspection outcomes in the detention estate, and investing in the deteriorating infrastructure of the centre, are the most immediate challenges.”

    * Read the inspection report here

    * HM Inspectorate of Prisons https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/

    [Ekk/6]

  • Medical experts support call to change benefits process for terminally ill

    The call to reform rules for terminally ill patients applying for disability benefits is backed by neurologists and GPs.

    A call has been made to reform rules for terminally ill patients applying for disability benefits is backed by neurologists and GPs across the country, in a new survey commissioned by the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.

    The move would not only make benefits more easily accessible, avoiding the need for onerous application processes, it would also give people quicker access to desperately needed funds.

    The MND Association has been campaigning alongside Madeleine Moon MP for the rules to be changed  Her private member's bill is scheduled for a second reading in Parliament on Friday 23 November.

    Under the Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI) people’s application for disability benefits can be fast-tracked if their GP, consultant or specialist nurse completes a form (DS1500) confirming there is a "reasonable expectation of death within six months". MND is a complex condition and it is almost impossible to give such a precise life expectancy.

    In the medeConnect survey, only seven per cent of neurologists and five per cent of GPs agreed that a patient’s condition "always makes it clear whether they should sign the DS1500".

    The MND Association is asking MPs to back the bill which calls for the wording to be amended, scrapping the six month time limit. Seven in 10 neurologists (73 per cent) and more than half (51 per cent) of GPs questioned said they would support the reform of the criteria which would bring England and Wales into line with the recent change in Scotland.

    This would spare others from the battle which Martin Burnell went through to access Universal Credit following his MND diagnosis. The 59-year-old was twice deemed fit to work.

    He said: “I have come to terms with having MND and not being able to do the job I loved as a carer, but no one should have to go through what I did. It was so frustrating. I had assessments from people sat behind a desk who didn’t seem to know what MND was. It shouldn’t be so hard to prove you are not going to get better.”

    This independent poll of 1,001 GPs across the UK was conducted by medeConnect via their monthly GP omnibus survey. The poll was commissioned by the MND Association.

    * More information here

    * Motor Neurone DIsease Association https://www.mndassociation.org/

    [Ekk/6]

  • 'Captured democracies' in Latin America contribute to increasing poverty and inequality

    Elites accumulate power to undermine democratic processes and create public policies that favour their interests at the expense of the rest of the population. 

    Oxfam, in partnership with the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO for its Spanish acronym), published today a report of 13 cases demonstrating how political and economic elites manipulate government decision-making processes to advance their fiscal privileges over the rights and benefits of the majority in Latin America, the most unequal region in the world.

    The report Captive Democracies: Governing for the Few also analyzes 11 mechanisms by which elites exert their influence on governments. The majority of these practices are legal, yet entirely illegitimate, and include the revolving door phenomenon, fierce lobbying, party financing, the payment of bribes and kickbacks, and media campaigns that manipulate information to position the interests of a few in the public debate, even if this means compromising the well-being of the population. Some of the 13 cases illustrating undue influence mechanisms are paradigmatic, such as the Odebrecht case, which laid bare many of the practices identified in the report and are far more common than is generally believed.

    This situation, which Oxfam refers to as “State Capture”, is reflected in the constant obstruction of public policies with redistributive potential. Studies undertaken in numerous countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, demonstrate that poverty increased as a result of fiscal policy. The poorest people in these countries did not benefit from the fiscal system, but rather became its financiers.

    “Fiscal policy is the most powerful tool governments can use to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality and, consequently, reduce poverty. However, in these countries, fiscal policy led to an increase in poverty. States captured by elites are not fulfilling their obligation to guarantee equal rights for all. We must break with this inacceptable culture of privileges”, said Rosa Cañete, Regional Coordinator of Oxfam’s 'Even it up' campaign in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

    In Captive Democracies, Oxfam puts forward a series of recommendations to ensure functioning democracies in which political and economic elites cannot create or shape laws, policies or institutions that cater to interests, undermining one of the fundamental rules of a democratic system: the guarantee of equal rights for all.

    “Citizen engagement is key to ensuring a counterweight to the interests of elites in the debate and definition of public policies. Only by strengthening democracy and limiting State Capture by elites can inequality be reduced. And only by reducing inequality, ensuring that public policies don’t privilege the few, will we have a more democratic system,” adds Cañete.

    * Read the report Captive Democracies: Governing for the Few (currently only available in Spanish) here

    * Oxfam International https://www.oxfam.org/en

    [Ekk/6]

  • Police custody in Merseyside 'a mix of positive aspects and some key concerns'

    Most staff were empathetic and respectful, but the force did not comply with PACE in several areas.

    An inspection of the treatment and conditions for detainees in Merseyside Police custody found a mixture of some positive aspects and key causes of concern.

    Criminal justice inspectors noted good health services and an emphasis on de-escalation, with force used only as a last resort and, overall, a “respectful, empathetic approach” by most staff.

    The force was effective in keeping mentally ill people and children out of custody and where children were refused bail, it worked actively with local partners to find alternative accommodation.

    However, inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, in a joint inspection in June 2018, noted that the service delivered to detainees did not reflect the force’s strategic objectives. They highlighted three key areas for concern:

    • The force did not comply with PACE or its codes of practice – covering the treatment of people in custody – “in several areas, which needed to be addressed urgently.” Sixty-seven per cent of first reviews were conducted while the detainee was asleep and custody staff often failed to remind detainees at the earliest opportunity that a review of their detention had taken place, which did not comply with PACE.
    • The force did not always manage detainees’ risks effectively enough to ensure their safe detention. Some staff were unaware of the need to rouse intoxicated detainees, and cell visits were carried out by different detention officers, which limited their ability to notice any changes in a detainee’s behaviour or mood over time.
    • The force’s approach to managing the demand for custody was not effective, which meant some detainees spent longer in custody than necessary. The force depended on officers working overtime, but available resources were not always deployed in the most effective way. The force did not effectively allocate detainees, which meant the Liverpool St Anne Street suite often became too busy when spaces were available in other nearby suites.

    Inspectors found the suites to be dated but clean. The force responded promptly to concerns about potential ligature points. Detainees told inspectors they were well treated.

    Overall, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said: “This inspection of police custody facilities in Merseyside found that the provision of custody services and outcomes for detainees were mixed. The force had made some progress since our last inspection in 2012 and we found some positive elements, notably in health services and the approach to the use of force in custody. However, we identified three areas that gave us cause for concern and a number of areas requiring improvement.”

    * Read the report on Merseyside police custody suites here

    * HM Inspectorate of Prisons https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/

    [Ekk/6]

  • New translation of the Bible in Northern Sami language

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has approved a new translation of the Bible in the Northern Sami language, with the Finnish Bible Society, predicting it will strengthen the cultural identity of Europe’s only indigenous people.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) has approved a new translation of the Bible in the Northern Sami language, with the Finnish Bible Society (FBS), predicting it will strengthen the cultural identity of Europe’s only indigenous people. The translation is proceeding simultaneously also in Norway and Sweden.

    “In addition to its use in the liturgy of the church in Finland, this new Bible translation strengthens the ecclesial and spiritual development of the Sami community, especially in the area of pastoral care”, the FBS stated.

    “It also opens the message of the Bible particularly for use in confirmation classes and for school work in general, as the former translation was not any more understandable to today’s youth.”

    While strengthening the liturgical life of the Sami community, the new translation also has considerable meaning both linguistically and culturally for the indigenous people, the society noted.

    The Sami originally inhabited large parts of northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. While many today live in urban centers, a significant number occupy villages in the high Arctic and are still coping with the loss of their language and culture.

    “The language used in the translation fits naturally into the Sami worldview, which enables the reader to more easily grasp the meaning of the text. The Old Testament is especially important to the community,” the FBS noted.

    Theologian Helga West, who was part of the group giving feedback on the translation, talked about the emotional impact of reading the Creation narratives in her mother tongue.

    “It touched me deeply. Previously, as a young theologian and Christian, I have read the Bible in Finnish and English - languages that represent cultures that are not my own”, she said. "Now I understand many Bible passages in a new way as they rose from my own cultural context. Only now does the Bible speak also to me.”

    Northern Sami is the most widely spoken of the Sami languages. The 15,000-25,000 people who speak the language make up 75 percent of all Sami speakers in the three Nordic countries.

    The FBS will launch the digital version of the new translation on 6 February 2019, the Sami National Day. The new translation will be read publicly for the first time on 11 November during the installation of the new bishop of Oulu.

    The Northern Sami New Testament was completed in 1998 and translating the Old Testament began in 1999 led by the Norwegian Bible Society, with cooperation from FBS and the Swedish Bible Society. The joint Nordic launch of the new Sami Bible translation will be held, 23-25 August in Kautokeino, Norway, and 1 September 2019 in Utsjoki, Finland.

     * The Evangelical Lutheran Church of FInland https://www.lutheranworld.org/country/finland#evangelical-lutheran-churc...

    * Lutheran World Federation https://www.lutheranworld.org/

    [Ekk/4]

  • Open letter on the UK's 'Prevent' counter-terrorism strategy

    Prevent has been widely criticised for fostering discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background, and chilling legitimate expression.

    Eight human rights groups have signed an open letter on the UK government's counter-terrorism programme, Prevent. The letter reads:

    The government's Prevent strategy – which forms one strand of the government's overarching counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST  seeks to pre-empt acts of terrorism by identifying those at risk of committing such attacks, including by "intervening to stop people moving … from extremism into terrorist-related activity".
     
    Developed without a firm evidence base and rooted in a vague and expansive definition of "extremism", Prevent has been widely criticised for fostering discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background, and chilling legitimate expression.
     
    There have been repeated calls to establish an independent review of the Prevent strategy and three UN independent experts have called on the United Kingdom to launch an independent review of Prevent that incorporates a comprehensive assessment of its impact on human rights. 
     
    The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill is currently passing through the House of Lords, and amendments 57 and 57A would require an independent review of Prevent.
     
    We urge members of the House of Lords to support these amendments and take this opportunity to ensure Prevent is at last subject to independent review.
     
    Signatories:

    Amnesty International
    ARTICLE 19
    Committee on the Administration of Justice
    Human Rights Watch
    Index on Censorship
    Liberty
    Medact 
    Rights Watch (UK)

    Rachel Logan, Amnesty International UK's legal expert, said: "Prevent is a highly dubious scheme built on shaky, almost evidence-free, foundations it's sorely in need of a proper review. Peers need to ensure that Prevent is rigorously and independently assessed, with all the human rights impacts of the scheme fully investigated."

    Adriana Edmeades Jones, Rights Watch (UK)'s Legal and Policy Director, said: "In the face of mounting evidence that Prevent is undermining relationships of trust and chilling expression in classrooms and consultation rooms across the country, it is clear that Prevent is simply not fit for purpose. It is in everyone’s interests the communities who are targeted, the teachers, doctors and social workers tasked with implementing it, and the Government itself that Prevent is subject to an independent review."

    Joy Hyvarinen, Index on Censorship's Head of Advocacy, said: "An independent review of the Prevent strategy is overdue and essential if the government wants to tackle the widespread doubts about Prevent. The House of Lords should ensure that the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill includes a review of Prevent."

    Brian Gormally, Committee on the Administration of Justice's Director, said: "If the categories, criteria and methods of Prevent were applied in Northern Ireland there would be an explosion of resentment in both Loyalist and Republican communities. Why then is it alright to use them in communities in Britain?"

    Letta Tayler, Human Rights Watch's senior researcher on terrorism and counter-terrorism, said: "This amendment to the UK counter-terrorism bill provides a good opportunity to ensure long overdue scrutiny of Prevent, a key part of the country's counter-extremism programme. Intrusive security powers should have independent oversight."

    * Read the Amendments to the Bill here

    * Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

    [Ekk/6]