Van campaign turning back the clock


As organisations with expertise in supporting people who are seeking protection in the UK, we deplore the highly controversial advertising campaign delivered on the side of vans driven through selected London boroughs. The “illegal immigrants go home campaign” (Report, 30 July) is cynical and giving rise to a climate of fear. The heavy-handed “stop and search” activity outside London tube stations harks back to a period before the Lawrence inquiry and raises questions about racial profiling in immigration control.



Home Office press releases refer to “would-be illegal immigrants” who were, in fact, Syrian nationals fleeing the violence and conflict back home, in an attempt to seek safety in the UK. The use of the term “illegal immigrant” in this context is offensive, inaccurate and misleading and fails to distinguish between the various individuals caught within its net, including asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and survivors of torture.

The Home Office is bound by a positive duty under the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. It is also responsible for assessing and determining the protection needs of the people who come to this country fleeing persecution. This campaign will generate hostility and intolerance in our communities, risks undermining the UK’s commitment to provide sanctuary under the refugee convention and should end now.
Jan Shaw Amnesty International UK
Dave Garrett Refugee Action
Keith Best Freedom from Torture



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