Socialist Worker

Asylum seekers’ charity RMJ closed by legal aid delays

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2207

Protesters at Refugee and Migrant Justice last week (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/» Guy Smallman )

Protesters at Refugee and Migrant Justice last week (Pic: » Guy Smallman)


A charity that provides legal representation to thousands of asylum seekers and refugees is being forced to close.

Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), which has over 10,000 cases on its books and employs 340 workers, has been starved of funding.

The charity survives on legal aid payments, but under the new rules these are delayed until a case reaches its verdict. But asylum cases can take years.

The change was brought in by the Labour government, but RMJ’s closure comes as the new Tory government plans to fast-track asylum claims.

It is stepping up forced deportations, particularly to Iraq and Afghanistan. On Friday of last week more than 150 workers and their supporters protested outside the Ministry of Justice in central London, demanding that the government step in to save RMJ.

The rally outside the Ministry of Justice was addressed by various trade unionists and high profile figures including ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone and feminist author Natasha Walter.

And on Monday of this week over 50 held a protest outside their main office in east London. They hung a huge “Save RMJ” banner from the building.

Rachel Maskell from the Unite union, which represents the RMJ workers said, “We’re here to save jobs lives. People will be sent back to countries facing terror and persecution.”

One worker told Socialist Worker, “This cut might be Labour’s fault, but that doesn’t mean this government couldn’t do something.

“They keep going on about the ‘big society’ – about charities doing the work of the government – but when it really comes to it, they’re not interested.”

There will be many more closures like this threatened in the future.

Workers need to organise strikes, sit-ins and occupations to stop them.


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Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:49 BST
Issue No. 2207
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