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UK Immigration Policy: Indians to feel the brunt of the new ebbing law

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By Gaurav Sharma

Immigration is a natural part of any open economy in the globalized world. Developed nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, countries in the European Union are the most favored destinations for emigrants from developing nations such as India, China etc.

The Immigration policy which grants freedom of movement to targeted individuals produces a net economic gain for the host nation.

Keeping in view the benefits that such a brain drain entail, developed nations have welcomed bright, young talent from the developing shores to oil the wheels of the economy, particularly the field of Information Technology and the Medical arena.

Lately, however, the same nations which welcomed immigrants with arms wide open, have become skeptical of allowing open access to foreign workers.

In an apparent attempt to crack down on immigration by ‘tens of thousands’, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new immigration task force.

On the back of highest net migration figures in ten years, Cameron has recently announced a blueprint for restriction of professionals from India and other non-European Union nations. Furthermore, new curbs on Inter-Company transfers(ICT) visa used by Indian companies to transfer and post employees in Britain, have also been initiated.

In order to actualize the aforementioned vision to diminish immigration, Migration Advisory Committee(MAC), an integral substratum of the Immigration Taskforce, has been established.

Justifying his move to trample down on immigration, Cameron said, “This government is on the side of working people: in the past, it has been too easy for businesses to recruit from overseas, undermining those who want to work hard and do the right thing.”

Here is what MAC is precisely set-up for:

  • Reducing work visas to highly specialized experts and genuine skill shortages

  • Skills levy on skilled work visas(Tier 2)

  • Setting a time limit for a sector to claim skill shortage

  • Raising salary threshold to prevent businesses from using foreign workers to cut wages

The measures to curtail foreign immigration do not end there. Even the spouses of Indians coming to India with a legitimate work permit may be barred from working in Britain.

Since the announcement of such a sharp strategic move, the major rise in employment- a staggering 1,000 jobs every day- has been appropriated by British nationals.

The measures, undoubtedly, mark the epoch of job usurpation by British nationals.

However, what spells gold-rush for the British nationals is detrimental to the freedom of immigrants, particularly Indian migrants.

Under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every individual irrespective of the nation he is born in, has the right to freedom of movement.

Such restrictive immigration policies can easily be contended as violating the basic human right of freedom of movement promulgated by the United Nations.

At the same time, every country has the right to frame its own border controls and policies, keeping in mind the welfare of its own citizens and, as a corollary, its own vested interests.

Though the immigration debate cannot be settled purely as a ‘for’ or ‘against’ migration policy, one thing is quite certain; the hopeful emigrants dreaming for a better life in foreign shores, have been hit rather hard.

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Concerns Rise Over China’s Stand at United Nations Human Rights Council

China has passed human rights reviews twice before this one, while more than 120 countries Beijing's human rights record during the most recent process.

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The 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council meets in Geneva on Feb. 25, 2013. RFA

Rights activists are increasingly worried that Beijing’s influence operations are having a negative impact on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which concludes its 40th session on Friday.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) China director Sophie Richardson warned in an article this week that China is seeking to undermine the mission of the U.N. Human Rights Council from within.

She also cited HRW research in 2017 which reported threats and harassment of U.N. staff involved in human rights evaluation by Chinese officials.

“As we head towards the final phase of [China’s U.N. human rights review], ask yourself: What other government threatens #humanrights treaty body experts?” Richardson tweeted on Thursday.

“As an [Human Rights Council] member #China is expected to uphold highest standards,” she wrote in another tweet, referencing a report in The New York Times. “Instead it tells people that merely attending an event is a ‘hostile act.'”

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During the recent round, the Chinese government said it accepted most of the 346 human rights recommendations put forward by the council. VOA

According to HRW’s 2017 article based on a 97-page report: “Chinese officials have at times harassed and intimidated U.N. staff, experts on treaty bodies, and independent experts focusing on specific human rights issues.”

The 2014 death in detention of activist Cao Shunli, who was detained on her way to a U.N. human rights event in Geneva, also sent a “chilling” message to Chinese activists who may want to participate in the U.N. human rights process, the article said.

HRW isn’t the only human rights organization worried about Chinese influence at the U.N.

Renee Xia, who heads the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network, reported from a side-event of the Human Rights Council conference in Geneva this week that it was “standing room only.”

“Strong show of interest despite #China urging countries not to attend,” Xia tweeted.

“The strong attendance was more remarkable esp. after #China officials went to many countries’ diplomats at the U.N., Geneva, to threaten them with “serious consequences” if they attended the side events,” she wrote in another tweet.

“#Bullying at the UN must stop!” she wrote.

‘So many restrictions’

Wang Dan, a former leader of the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square, is also in Geneva this week.

“To tell you the truth, my feelings during my two days here are that China has huge influence at the U.N.,” Wang told RFA.

“For example, at one side-event, it wasn’t just the Chinese delegation who spoke against [criticisms of Beijing’s rights record], but other countries came to speak in support of China’s position,” he said.

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“Many of the countries participating in the Human Rights Council are actually the ones that are carrying out the most violations of human rights, Pixabay

Wang said tight controls over public speech also make it less likely that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will have to face criticism of human rights violations coming from within its own borders.

“There are a lot of people online in China, but they are under so many restrictions,” he said. “You can’t mention the Tiananmen Massacre. You can’t mention [late Nobel peace laureate and political prisoner] Liu Xiaobo. You can’t say this, you can’t say that.”

“I don’t think that’s how you define freedom … but then the Chinese point to the U.N. charter, which says that all member states must be respected,” he said.

‘Autocratic rule the default’

Veteran New York-based rights activist Liu Qing said the work of the council had become “unrecognizable” to him.

“Many of the countries participating in the Human Rights Council are actually the ones that are carrying out the most violations of human rights,” Liu told RFA.

“The only purpose of these countries in insinuating themselves into the Human Rights Council is to curb the positive role of the Human Rights Council and make autocratic rule the default setting on the international stage,” he said.

Amnesty International blogger Shao Jiang wrote in December 2018 that Beijing is reinterpreting universal human rights as merely the right to survival, freedom to access food, and regards other definitions of human rights as secondary to trade and economic development.

“The Chinese government has appointed government officials as independent experts into the UN’s Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, and the U.N. treaty bodies,” Shao said.

China has passed human rights reviews twice before this one, while more than 120 countries Beijing’s human rights record during the most recent process.

During the recent round, the Chinese government said it accepted most of the 346 human rights recommendations put forward by the council.

Also Read: Myanmar Government Calls Ethnic Armed Groups To Attend Collective Peace Discussions For The First Time

The United Nations now reports annually on government reprisals against human rights defenders participating in U.N. human rights efforts, Richardson wrote in an article in The Hill last December.

“China has topped the list of offenders in every report issued,” she said. (RFA)