The Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ is killing people with impunity

Activists holding up banners to protest against the Home Office's hostile environment policy

Another week, another piece of news that reinforces how little Black and Brown lives matter in this country. Kelemua Muat, a 39-year-old mum, died because the Home Office denied her cancer treatment. Her death barely made the headlines. A few weeks from now, no one will remember her name. And in the face of the Home Office’s ongoing racism and negligence, there’s only so much righteous anger that one can feel before it becomes exhausting.

Muat’s case highlights that the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment‘, does kill people. And, it seems, there’s little action as a result.

Red tape and racism

From reading what happened to Kelemua Muat, two things are clear.

Firstly, the sheer amount of bureaucracy in the Home Office caused not one but multiple delays in the decision for her case. Delays which led to her being denied medical treatment, and, ultimately, her death. Second, the ‘hostile environment’ policy has led to a callousness which is simply racism by another name. As Global Justice Now noted:

whistleblower has claimed that the introduction of the hostile environment meant that the mentality of civil servants working in the Home Office became one of “I’m going to say no, unless you can prove me wrong”.

It’s no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of refugees and asylum seekers are People of Colour. And the ongoing dehumanisation of People of Colour has made our deaths inconsequential. They elicit little empathy and result in negligible action by those in power. Even the latest report by the NGO Freedom From Torture makes no mention of deaths caused by Home Office callousness (read racism) or red tape.

Because the victims of the Home Office’s racism are non-citizens, there is little political will to address their suffering. Given the circumstances of Muat’s death, the Home Office’s response seems dismissive and insincere. People have died as a result of the government’s ‘hostile environment’, and yet there’s little effort to hold the Home Office accountable for it.

Read on...

What can we do?

Muat’s friends have launched a fundraising campaign to cover her funeral costs, which is still live. The NGO Global Justice Now has launched a petition for the Home Office to end its ‘hostile environment’ policy which can be signed here. Freedom from Torture also has an open letter to the home secretary Priti Patel, urging her to implement the recommendations in their new report, to which people can add their names.

Beyond this, though, we need to address the systemic racism at the heart of policies like the ‘hostile environment’. We need to recognise and consistently call out the dehumanisation of People of Colour in the media. And we must dismantle policies that enforce hard borders and strict immigration rules if we are truly committed to human rights, equality, and dignity for all people.

Featured image via Flickr/ Global Justice Now

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us