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The UK's ethnic minorities have been "disproportionately" affected by the government's austerity and immigration policies, a UN inspector has said.Tendayi Achiume, the Special Rapporteur on Racism, criticised the "hostile environment" brought in by Theresa May when she was home secretary to clamp down on illegal immigrants.But she said UK racial equality laws had shown achievements in key areas.The government said it was determined to tackle "ethnic disparities".
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Ms Achiume's comments are contained in an end of mission statement following her two week fact-finding mission to the UK.
She is due to publish a full report in June 2019.
'Much to do'
The first day of her visit coincided with Amber Rudd's resignation as home secretary following the Windrush scandal. People who came to the UK from mainly Caribbean countries between the late 1940s and 1970s, had faced deportation as well as problems accessing healthcare or proving they had the legal right to be employed.Ms Achiume said the Windrush Generation faced "gross human rights violations and indignities" as a result of government policies.She recommended the government repeal the sections of the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Act which require landlords and employers to check a person's right to be in the UK.It was "no surprise that a policy that ostensibly seeks to target only irregular immigrants is destroying the lives and livelihoods of racial and ethnic minority communities more broadly", she said.Ms Achiume said that while the UK embraced a "substantive vision of racial equality, and explicitly prohibited both direct and indirect forms of racial discrimination" there was "much to do especially in the arena of addressing structural forms of racial discrimination and inequality".
'Worthy of emulation'
Ms Achiume also raised concerns over the government's anti-terrorism Prevent programme, and hate crimes following the Brexit vote.She said: "The discourses on racial equality before, during and after the 2016 referendum, as well as the policies and practices upon which the Brexit debate has conferred legitimacy, raise serious issues at the core of my mandate".
The prime minister's racial disparity audit won praise
Speaking at a press conference to mark the end of her trip, Ms Achiume said she was "shocked" to find young black men were "over-represented" in police stop and searches and in the prison system. She added: "Unsurprisingly, austerity has had especially pronounced inter-sectional consequences, making women of colour the worst affected."Her statement cites estimates from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggesting that austerity measures have been "disproportionately detrimental" to racial and ethnic minority communities.The prime minister's Racial Disparity Audit was however described by Ms Achiume as a "remarkable step in transforming racial equality into reality" that is "worthy of emulation by governments all over the world".A website set up by the government highlights the disparities in educational attainment, health, employment and treatment by police and courts between ethnicities and Mrs May has promised to confront the "uncomfortable truths" exposed by it.A government spokeswoman said: "We note that the special papporteur commended UK legislation and policy to tackle direct and indirect racial discrimination..."We have made great progress, but the prime minister is clear that if there is no rational explanation for ethnic disparities, then we - as a society - must take action to change them. That is precisely what we will do."The government added it was wrong to term Home Office immigration policy as a "hostile environment".But she said in light of the concerns raised by the Windrush scandal, rules were being reviewed to ensure that people lawfully in the UK are not disadvantaged by measures in place to tackle illegal migration.
Windrush scandal
Home Office
United Nations
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