BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Violence involving asylum seekers
HITS: 1931 | 9-01-2002, 00:17 | Comments: (0) | Categories: France , Political science, Global Events

In November 1997 violent confrontations broke out between between pro- and anti-immigration groups in Dover after a summer in which several hundred Czech and Slovak gypsies had arrived in the town seeking political asylum. Since then the situation has calmed down only to re-ignite alarmingly on the evenings of 13th and 14th August when several white youths were attacked with Stanley knives by groups of migrant youths at a local funfair and outside a petrol station in Dover. Some of the injuries sustained were severe _ in one case a white youth needed 175 stitches. Women are not immune: a 13-year-old girl had 48 stitches after being caught up in the attack.
It seems that local boys had taunted the foreigners. However, many saw the incident as a dangerous scenario that had been in the making for some time. Dover is a small, impoverished port of 40,000 people. The presence of less than 1000 migrants in the town at any one time where they are housed in bed and breakfast accommodation should pass unnoticed. This is not the case: the migrants are seen as compounding the problems of blight and unemployment that disfigure this coastal town. Competition between young males from the town and abroad for the attention of girls at the town’s few entertainment centres also seems to promote tensions.

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Refugees 1999: The port of Calais in France
HITS: 2076 | 27-12-2001, 00:07 | Comments: (0) | Categories: France , Politics, War and peace

France has a variety of problems associated with migration and asylum-seekers from North Africa, but the port of Calais just 22 miles across the English Channel from Dover provides the jumping-off point for people who wish to cross into Britain. Other Channel ports, including those in Belgium and Holland, attract some would-be asylum-seekers anxious to enter Britain but Calais is the most important point of embarkation by far. The means employed usually involve stowing away in the back of one of the many trucks that pass daily into the English port. Despite the fact that truckers face a fine in England if it can be proved they knowingly transported illegal immigrants, many say that their human cargo climbs into the back of the vehicles without their knowledge. Some have alleged that immigrants have threatened them with knives in order to gain passage, but it cannot be ruled out that others knowingly collude in the trade for the substantial financial rewards it offers _ up to several thousand dollars per person carried. On the day BHHRG visited Dover 140 people had been found hidden in the back of a truck.
Many also enter Britain on the Eurostar train service from France. Once in France an immigrant can buy a ticket in Paris for the last station before the Tunnel and a second for the cross-Channel section of the route and get on the train with only perfunctory checks on documents to contend with since on showing only the first ticket the impression is given that he intends only to travel to Calais.

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