Civil liberties, justice, crime

Hungary: three months of decrees, but no food

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 10:24

The new emergency law passed in Hungary has made waves in the international press, and rightly, though much of the coverage has been inaccurate.

For example, the BBC on 30 March said: “The Hungarian Parliament has voted by 137 to 53 to accept the government’s request for the power to rule by decree during the coronavirus emergency”.

However, the 2012 Hungarian Constitution (put in place by Fidesz) already grants the power to rule by decree in a state of emergency. The new law is actually about the edicts that are issued during a state of emergency.

A state of emergency legally lasts until

Deaths in custody

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 09:18

Under the emergency powers of the Coronavirus Act, unless a medical professional deems it necessary, death certificates for people that die in custody will not have to be signed by a coroner.

Yet the law was passed with little debate and with almost no opposition to these provisions from the Labour leadership.

Inquest reported that in the financial year 2018-19, there were 276 deaths during or following police contact, 16 in or following police custody.

Of those 16 deaths, 10 people were identified as having “mental health concerns” and 13 were known to have a link to alcohol or drugs. Six

Empty the jails and detention centres!

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 07:37

Sacha Ismail

The government is planning to temporarily release something like 4,000 prisoners in order to control the spread of Covid-19 in jails.

4,000 is about 5% of the prison population of 83,000. Of those 83,000, at least 60% are in prison for crimes that do not involve “violence against the person” or a sexual offence.

The figure of 83,000 is not one necessary for public safety. Other countries get equal or better public safety with lower rates. The Netherlands and Sweden have only 61 prisoners per 100,000 population, while Britain has 139, and the USA 655.

Turkey is releasing almost a third of

Two communiques from France

Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 07:15

Ed Maltby

Photo by Fran Boloni on Unsplash

We reproduce the Ile-de-France union regions (URIF) communiqué of March 23, 2020; and the declaration issued by the national coordination of strikers of 28 March.

Document 1 (23 March)
A common position along these lines should be taken at the national level. Cross-union unity shouldn't be dissolved in the state of emergency
Communiqué of URIFS CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, UNL

The trade union regional bodies of Ile-de-France (URIF) of the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, with [student unons] UNEF and UNL, reject the law declaring a "state of health emergency

Covid-19: fight for workers' control

Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:17

1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership)
• private hospitals, as Ireland and Spain have done
• the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis
• high finance, so that the epidemic is not compounded by a snowballing economic slump resulting from an implosion of credit
• and other sectors where coordinated mobilisation is necessary.

2. Fight for workers’ control
The workers ourselves, taking expert advice, should have a decisive voice in identifying and running what is essential, and how

Empty the jails!

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:24

Gerry Bates

Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, has said that elderly prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions should “immediately” be considered for release “if they do not pose a threat to themselves or society”. The government has said (25 March) that it is “looking carefully” at releasing some prisoners.

As of March 2019 (the latest official figures), about 25% of prisoners were in jail on “violence against the person” counts, large or sometimes small, and about 15% on sex-offences counts. Theft and drug counts are the biggest other categories

Beware emergency powers!

Published on: Sun, 29/03/2020 - 19:44

Mohan Sen

The government’s Coronavirus Bill passed into law on 25 March after four days discussion in Parliament. It went through the House of Commons without a vote, since the Labour Party did not force one.

The government conceded to Labour’s demand that the powers granted by the Act would be reviewed and actively renewed every six months. That's better than the two years the Tories originally proposed, but a very long time on the scale of the epidemic. Labour should have insisted on every month or two months. And Parliament will be able to vote only on renewing or cancelling the whole Act, not

Emergency powers: who checks?

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:46

Yes, any government would need emergency powers in an epidemic like this, to shut down activities which endanger not just those taking part, but others near them, and endanger the NHS too.

That does not mean that we should trust the Tories.

The government agreed under pressure to have the emergency powers reconsidered after six months, not to run for two years as they first proposed.

In this fast-moving emergency, that should be monthly.

Parliament should go online rather than either shutting or being depleted due to self-isolation. Make the government accountable!

The legislation gives

Covid-19: public health, and workers' rights too!

Published on: Tue, 24/03/2020 - 21:27


1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership):

• private hospitals, so that all their resources are directly available to the NHS
• the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis
• manufacturing facilities which can be adapted to produce ventilators and other medical equipment
• hotels and empty houses, to use them for the NHS, for the homeless, and for domestic violence victims
• transport and logistics, so that essential deliveries and travel can be coordinated and planned
• the big

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