DAY 160: The judgment

January 30th, 2016 § 0 comments

That Day, the people will depart to be shown the result of their deeds. 

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

The words of Sura 99 (6-8) came to mind irresistibly as I heard the judgment of McCloskey J in the truly historic case of R (ZAT, IAJ, KAM, AAM, MAT, MAJ and LAM) v. the Secretary of State for the Home Department; more popularly known as ‘the Syrian children’. I was privileged – well, I had to make the effort of walking some distance to breamsBream’s Buildings and emptying my poskets for the security guard – to be present when the judgment was delivered. When it finally emerged that right had triumphed and the children would be freed from the jungle and reunited with their families in less than two days, the (I assume) normally calm legal teams began to embrace one another without restraint. I’ve already posted the judgment on Facebook as have my friends Leonore and Matt (who got there first), and as it’s 26 or so pages long, it would overrun my usual allotted length. And as McCloskey J meanly delivered his judgment as a pdf, so making it impossible for me to cut and paste it, I am forced to painfully copy the outstanding sections by hand. So here goes.

3. The spotlight in these proceedings is on an area just across the English Channel from Dover. It has become known colloquially as ‘the jungle’. This is a bleak and desolate place adjacent to Calais on the coast of northern France. It attracts this appellation not without good reason. Unlike other jungles, this place is inhabited by human beings, not animals.

4. ‘The jungle’ did not materialise overnight. Its development has, rather, been an organic process. The eyes of Europe, with a mixture of shock and revulsion, have been fixed firmly on this location during most of the past year. The description of the jungle in some parts of the evidence as a camp, or settlement, is misleading. It is more accurately described in the uncompromising language of the substantial number of organisations and individuals who have shown an interest and have attempted to provide some alleviation for the occupants.

5. The evidence adduced in these proceedings regarding ‘the jungle’ speaks unremittingly with a single voice. It is unnecessary to reproduce it in extenso. One example will suffice. In early January 2016 a concerned English public representative stated:

‘I have just returned from the camps in Calais and Dunkirk where thousands of migrants have temporary homes. The conditions are so bad that describing them … cannot capture the squalor. You have to smell conditions like these and feel the squelch of mud mixed with urine and much else
is-1through your boots to appreciate the horror.’

Descriptions such as ‘a living hell’ abound. The evidence includes graphic photographs which speak for themselves. Elaboration is unnecessary. It is estimated that ‘the jungle’ has some 6,000 occupants at present. In summary, the conditions prevailing in this desolate part of the earth are about as deplorable as any citizen of the developed nations could imagine.

The judgment goes on to quote, in §15, the November judgment of the Tribunal Administratif de Lille on hygiene conditions (water and toilets) which states that ‘there is a serious and manifestly unlawful breach of their right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment;’ and then states (§16) that ‘the desperate plight of human beings can bring out the best in mankind.’ Here the judge is referring to the work of the army of volunteers who do their best to make conditions in the jungle less atrocious.

I don’t want to go on to the legal arguments – I don’t have space, or the skill. My main point is that clearly the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary find nothing wrong in allowing 7000 people – ‘a bunch of migrants’ as Mr Cameron described them to live in these conditions. They express no regret, and of course they make no suggestions about how the situation could be improved. 

It is they who will face judgment, and the judgment will be terrible.

And here, to remind them, is Mozart’s ‘Dies irae’. The image of this government summoned to meet their Maker, as conjured up by the music, is irresistible.

As the gate of Hell has it:

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina potestate,
la somma sapienza e ‘l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate

(Dante’s Inferno in case you’d forgotten)



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