Sunday, 9 December 2012

Justice for Raul Ally! Shame on ITV! We demand fair and accurate reporting NOW!

On Wednesday 21st November TCAR held a demonstration outside Tyne Tees Studios in Gateshead against ITV News censorship. 

This was in response to ITV’s refusal to report on the demonstration TCAR organised on 24th October in solidarity with Raul Ally, a young Somali man facing deportation to Tanzania (see full report of that protest below: ITV sent a reporter who filmed the protest on 24th October and interviewed Raul extensively. Raul has recently been released from Morton Hall immigration detention centre, where he witnessed mistreatment of asylum seekers. Raul and his supporters in TCAR were happy that ITV wanted to report on this matter. We expected to see the report on the evening news but it wasn’t aired. ITV didn't explain why they didn't show the report until we contacted them. We found out that ITV would no longer report the story because the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) had told them that Raul was ‘not who he says he is’.  Effectively they called Raul a liar, just like they do to thousands of refugees. ITV made no attempt to investigate the story further, simply following the government line. Britain is supposed to have free press: ITV, do you really expect a government agency, who is attempting to deport a young man to country he’s never even been to, to tell the truth?

As well as claiming Raul is not who he says he is and is not Somali UKBA continue to assert that Raul and his brother are not even related, despite blood tests proving that they are in fact brothers. Whether it is outright lies or incompetency it allows UKBA to undermine Raul’s case and attempt to deport him more easily. This is not an isolated case. UKBA incompetency has been highlighted very clearly recently with a report published on 22nd November 2012 by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine. The report found that UKBA staff dealt with a backlog of immigration cases so inefficiently that at one point 100,000 items of post were unopened. More than 150 boxes of post, including letters from applicants, MPs and lawyers, lay unopened. This means that accurate information and supporting evidence is not used when deciding an individual’s asylum claim which will cause severe delays and stress (and the illnesses associated with this), it plays havoc with people’s lives and results in people being deported.

When Raul and TCAR supporters got to the entrance of Tyne Tees Studios we were met by two police officers who claimed they were there to facilitate our right to protest. We asked to see an official to explain our demands, the security guard present initially said there was no one available and that he would pass on the demands. However, we persisted and were able to speak to the Programme Editor Julie Harinson. When asked why ITV made no efforts to investigate UKBA’s claims she said that the reporter had tried to contact Raul, but when Raul challenged her saying that he had not been contacted she said the reporter ‘must have had a bad signal at the time’. Some investigation! After discussing Raul’s case Julie Harinson made a commitment to investigate the story with a view to airing it in the near future and has since been back in touch with Raul, TCAR and Raul’s solicitor. Without the protest it is clear ITV would have remained silent on the issue. It is important that we keep up the pressure to ensure Raul’s story is broadcast.

End the media blackout on immigration detention and deportations!

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