Human Traffic

Photo: Ira Gelb / Flickr

Photo: Ira Gelb / Flickr

Between 100,000 to 800,000 people are still being trafficked into the European Union annually. As policy-makers are busy thinking up new ways to control immigration in the UK, Jody-Lan Castle asks whether enough is being done to tackle human trafficking.  The Metropolitan Police’s specialist Human Trafficking unit was closed down in 2010. As the exploitation of men, women and children continues, this documentary asks Baroness Kennedy QC, Paul Donohoe from Anti Slavery and Sarah Walker from the English Collective of Prostitutes, where is current trafficking legislation going wrong?

The featured image is by Ira Gelb / Flickr.

The global talent pool of the English Premiership

Arsenal were the victors of last night’s match in come-back against Aston Villa. But who was it all up to? Two goals by Robin Van Persie, and one by Theo Walcott. And the squad behind them were from the Czech Republic, Cameroon, Poland… With a team who 82% from abroad, this got us thinking how dependent are English teams on foreign talent? And what is the impact of this?

Audio recording and editing: Jody-Lan Castle and Michelle Shi

Racial relations in Folkestone, Kent

Amid all this discussion about racism in the UK, here is a look at how Folkestone in Kent is doing in terms of its racial relations.

Folkestone is a multicultural town, including large groups of Nepalese, Bangladeshi and Eastern European people.

These graphs show that the number of White British people has gradually declined over the past 10 years, and the number of ethnic minorities has risen.

The Nepalese Community is probably the most prominent ethnic group in Folkestone. In 1997, when the Gurkhas’ base was moved from Hong Kong to the UK, Folkestone became home to the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Now, over 350 Nepalese families live there. Here’s Susan Wallace, the Mayor of Folkestone, telling us about the Gurkhas.
In January 2011, an Afghan teenager was stabbed and killed by another Afghan boy. The cause was said to be a tribal feud. This incident polarised the public in Folkestone, and racial relations became tense. The newspapers at the time said that some parts of Folkestone were becoming ghettos.This is Barbara Witham, Events Organiser for Folkestone Town Centre Management and one of those responsible for Folkestone Multicultural Festival, commenting on the stabbing of an Afghan teenager in Folkestone last year.As the Economy worsens and unemployment stays high, the relations between ethnic groups in Folkestone will be strained. Hopefully, Folkestone will remain a peaceful seaside town.For a more detailed report, including public opinion and an interview with Bijay Hitan from the Nepalese Community of Folkestone, listen to this.

“HK government treats domestic workers as social benefits”


Anyone who has been to Hong Kong should be familiar with the image of crowds of Filipinas and Indonesians filling the streets every Sunday.

But if the controversial abode law is finally passed, this could all change.

Last Wednesday, a second judge ruled to uphold September’s verdict, giving Evangline Vallejos permanent resident status, after 25 years working in Hong Kong.

Domestic Workers have become a fundamental part of most families in Hong Kong, enabling both parents to work, whilst the children and elderly are cared for at home.

But they are currently the only group who do not have the right of abode, while other nationalities can gain it after 7 years.

Aaron Ceradoy from the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrant Workers tells us that it is wrong to manipulate the rights of domestic workers for the benefit of others.

He continues, “The Hong Kong government treats foreign domestic workers as social benefits for the local people.”

The Hong Kong immigration office has reported a surge in the number of applications for permanent residency status in the past month, from 1 per month to 20.

But the human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who represented the Evangeline Vallejos in the controversial abode case last month, doubts the Immigration department’s figures.

16,000 signatures were collected last week in protest of the potential abode law passing, and thousands of protesters marched from Wanchai to the Tamar government site in Central to show their outrage.

A research recently carried out by the Mission for Migrants showed that only 54% of the domestic workers in Hong Kong are eligible for permanent residency.

Assange ‘steals the show’ at Anti-War Assembly

Ten years and a day after the US/UK invasion of Afghanistan, thousands of people gather in Trafalgar square to demonstrate against the continuing occupation of Afghanistan.

Freedom for Palestine, Syria and Libya, and a reminder of those left in Guantanamo Bay, were among the other messages of the protest, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British Muslim Initiative.

A line-up of prestigious people, including John Pilger and George Galloway, shared their condemning thoughts of war. Contrary to the report by AFP, the protest in Trafalgar square today was not led by Julian Assange of Wikileaks and Jemima Khan of the Independent.

The demonstration actually began with speeches from Joe Glenton, a former soldier who had been punished for refusing to serve in Afghanistan, and Grace McCann, famous for the attempted citizen’s arrest of Tony Blair in 2010.

While Jemima repeated the messages which all prior speakers had, the crowd was distracted by Julian Assange on the sideline.

Assange, who stole the show for many in the crowd, says “wars are the result of lies” while referring to the Vietnam War, the Second World War, and the war in Somalia.

To clear up what AFP also wrongly reported, Assange actually said, “Let us ask ourselves of the complicit media, which is the majority of the mainstream press. What is the average death count attributed to each journalist? When we understand that wars come about as a result of lies peddled to the British public…, then who are the war criminals? It is not just leaders, it is not just soldiers, it is journalists. Journalists are war criminals.”
According to statistics from the Stop the War Coalition, £18,000,000,000 have been spent on the war since 2001, 380 British soldiers have died, and ISAF forces have killed 9,300 Afghan civilians, not counting those killed by other actors.
The main message of the demonstration was that the UK and Afghanistan cannot afford another 4 years of war in Afghanistan, and that troops should withdraw now.

Another resonating message from speakers was that the money spent on war could be spent on education and healthcare in the UK.

For the full speeches by Julian Assange, George Galloway and John Pilger, please return to this blog in a day or so.

Abode changes threaten status quo

The proposed changes to the abode law for domestic workers in Hong Kong have not only intensified fears amongst Chinese locals, but also non-Chinese locals. Domestic workers have become embedded in Hong Kong society, as locals who work long hours rely on them to look after children and the elderly. The predominantly Filipino and Indonesian group are not entitled to earn the minimum wage and currently have a near-impossible route to gaining citizenship.

For other ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, making up approximately 5% of the population, this change could mean a negative change in the status quo. Local Indians for example, who came to Hong Kong during British rule, traditionally worked as police. More recently they are bound to jobs in security and delivery driving. If the abode law falls through, Filipinos, with their generally higher level of education, could push other local minorities into the bar and catering sectors, generally dominated by Filipinos. Due to language and cultural differences, it is difficult for non-Chinese locals to succeed in professions other than these.