Civil liberties, justice, crime

Labour's martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

Workers' Liberty 3/53, published as a pull-out in Solidarity 397. The story of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, told by James P Cannon and Max Shachtman, who were leading activists in the defence campaign. Click to download as pdf

Video: Crime and policing

"Crime and policing" is the intro by a Workers' Liberty activist in the second of a five-part series of meetings "The state, crime, prisons and the police". Upcoming meetings in this series and beyond can be found here . Part one here . Video: */ See Workers' Liberty's channel for other videos and playlists. See the above video on facebook . Audio: Workers' Liberty · Crime and policing — 2/5 in The state, crime, prisons and the police Download, listen to, and subscribe to all our audio here. The Labour party went into the 2019 election calling for police increases larger than the Tories. So...

Tracing app is no cure-all

As governments and tech companies tout digital contact tracing as a way out of coronavirus lockdown, many experts and privacy campaigners are expressing scepticism. They worry these systems may do little to help contain outbreaks but could usher in unprecedented mass surveillance. So, what are the issues?

Tories keep UK's prisons full, despite Covid-19

The Ministry of Justice is treading a dangerous path in its response to Covid-19. Since early on in the pandemic prisons have received attention as potential hotbeds of contagion. They are cramped and unsanitary institutions, full of people with underlying health problems who receive inadequate healthcare whilst they’re incarcerated. Prisons also increase the rate of spread in the community due to the daily through-flow of families and service providers visiting prisoners, staff clocking in and out, and prisoners starting and finishing custodial sentences. Reported cases and deaths of...

Hungary: three months of decrees, but no food

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 the...

Deaths in custody

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 of...

Empty the jails and detention centres!

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 its...

Two communiques from France

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

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!

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...

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