Interior Ministry convicted of forcing migrants on bail to wear GPS beacons | Human rights
More than 40 human rights organizations have condemned the Home Office’s introduction of 24-hour GPS monitoring of immigration bailiffs as part of an extension of surveillance powers that did not involve any consultation process.
The new policy marks a shift from using radio frequency monitors (which alert authorities if the wearer leaves an assigned area) to 24-hour GPS trackers (which can track a person’s every move), while still giving also to the Ministry of the Interior new powers to collect, store and access this data indefinitely via a private contractor.
Rudy Schulkind, Bail for Immigration Detainees, said: “This is actually an extension of immigration detention beyond the physical walls of detention centers and prisons.
“This regressive and authoritarian policy is totally inappropriate in a country that claims to defend the right to liberty.
“It’s no wonder the government hasn’t officially announced this and tried to evade scrutiny,” said Schulkind, who issued an open letter to Home Secretary Priti on Monday. Patel, with the rights group Liberty.
Those affected by GPS tagging are foreign nationals who risk deportation following criminal convictions of 12 months or more. They are currently selected on a discretionary basis, but the government is seeking a statutory instrument to make surveillance mandatory for thousands more, regardless of the seriousness of their crimes or the risk of absconding, raising concerns about their fleeing. protection.
“Victims of human trafficking sometimes commit crimes as a result of their trafficking, such as those enslaved on British cannabis farms, and are directly evicted and tracked by GPS,” Schulkind warned.
The letter says the government has given itself the power to use people’s data for reasons unrelated to bail, for example, to investigate immigration applications made under section 8 of the the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects private and family life.
“This could mean that if someone challenges their deportation because they have a child in the UK, the government can look at that person’s GPS data to see if they have visited their child enough times while being followed, ”Schulkind said.
“This effectively gives the government carte blanche to use highly personal data for a fishing exercise, looking for reasons to reject an application.”
Jun Pang, Liberty’s policy and campaign manager, said, “Defending our human rights has and should never allow the state to monitor all of our privacy. This policy is unprecedented and has worrying implications for the ability of everyone to enforce their rights.
Mo (not her real name) is one of 269 people who were fitted with the new GPS beacons, according to freedom of information data obtained by law firm Leigh Day, and faces deportation due to ‘a criminal conviction.
He told the Guardian he was detained under immigration powers for almost a year after serving his criminal sentence. A week after being released on bail, a private contractor arrived at his home and told him he had to put on a GPS tag or he could be returned to custody – a condition that was not mentioned during his bail hearing. .
“My feet were swelling and bleeding. It was too tight and it got infected, ”he said. “I have no idea when it is going to be withdrawn. I feel bad, I feel depressed, I feel anxious; I don’t know how to describe it in words. I don’t have my freedom like the others.
One woman who took part in the study said the ankle monitor physically prevented her from kneeling down to pray, while another said she stopped taking her son to the playground because it made other parents uncomfortable.
Labor MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, deputy chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on the detention of migrants, said: Extensive new surveillance powers that would extend well beyond their stated purpose.
“[It] sends a clear signal that the hostile environment is here to stay and gives us a glimpse of the new authoritarianism that is pushing this government forward.
Open Rights Group, a campaign organization for digital rights, said the introduction of GPS monitoring was part of a coordinated attack on the privacy rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Last week, the group won a case it appealed against the Home Office, when a High Court judge ruled that an immigration exemption in the data protection law was illegal.
Sahdya Darr, the group’s immigration policy officer, said: “The pervasiveness of these measures speaks volumes about the need to ensure migrants are able to exercise their data rights.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: “Foreign criminals who commit crimes should have no doubts about our determination to deport them.
“GPS tracking is widely used throughout the criminal justice system and allows us to use the latest technology to maintain contact with offenders, deter leaks and prevent further crimes from being committed. This was a clear commitment by the government and the measure promulgating it was debated in parliament and passed into law.
“We make no apologies for keeping the public safe and cracking down on those who are not allowed to be in the UK.”