Guest Post by Lucy
Some of you may have heard that the charity that I work
for, Refugee and Migrant Justice, went into administration yesterday.
We have been told that we have to stop our work today and be out of our
offices around the UK by next Wednesday.
About 400 staff have
now lost their jobs but much more importantly, about 10,000 clients have
lost their legal representation. This is because of the way that legal
aid cases are run by the UK government. We have done the work and are
owed £1.8 million by the Legal Services Commission (the people that run
legal aid) which they will not give us because the cases have not been
closed. The cases may not be closed for years becase that is how long
the Home Office take to make a decision on refugee claims so in effect,
we will not be able to be paid for the work we have done for years. It
is a completely unsustainable system and I’m afraid that we may be the
first charity of many to go under.
We represent children,
torture victims, trafficked victims, people with mental health problems
and many more. We are their only lifeline, their only hope of getting
food, shelter, good legal representation and just someone to care about
I’m asking you, my friends and family, to come out and
protest against this outrageous miscarriage of justice. The protest is
being called by Unite on our behalf but it’s representative of the third
sector as a whole: people that protect and uphold the rights of the
most vulnerable. Our sector are being threatened by this new government
and we need to fight back.
I really need you. My clients really
need you. I would really appreciate your support at this time. And
please tell your friends, colleagues and families.
Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France,
London SW1H 9AJ
Thank you very much.
More details below:
Likely Closure of Refugee and Migrant Justice – Defend Legal Aid
and Migrant Justice (RMJ), the largest provider of specialist legal
advice for asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants in England and
Wales, went into administration on June 16 2010.
This is a
result of cuts in Legal Aid over recent years and changes in the way in
which Legal Aid providers are paid. RMJ used to get paid monthly, but is
now only paid after each case is closed – many cases last many months
or even years. No charity can be expected to wait that long for payment
and many law centres are finding it difficult to cope with the new
payment system. David Cameron’s claims to value the work of charities
rings very hollow indeed.
RMJ (formerly the Refugee Legal Centre)
was founded in 1992 and in the last year alone has helped over 11,000
people. Closure would mean that many thousands of vulnerable people will
be left without legal representation. Many will face being returned to
countries where they face persecution and their lives are in danger.
far the Ministry of Justice has declined to help RMJ. UNITE is calling
for RMJ to be saved and for proper Legal Aid funding to ensure that the
most vulnerable members of society have real access to justice.
in public spending are affecting the poorest people right across our
society. But these people did not cause the economic crisis and should
not be made to pay for it.
UNITE, the union that represents RMJ’s
340 staff, has called a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice
at 4pm on Friday 18th June 2010. Please join us. .
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ
James’s Park and Westminster
For further details, please contact
Rachael Maskell, Unite National Officer, Community and Non Profit
Sector: 07768 693933
PLEASE PUBLICISE WIDELY
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.