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Hopes of a summer holiday abroad have been dashed as no new countries have been added to the UK's green travel list and Portugal has moved to amber.

No further countries are being moved from the amber to green status and travellers returning from Portugal will have to quarantine following the review of the government's travel traffic light system.

Seven countries are also being added to the red list from the amber list. They are: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Sri Lanka.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

The change will come into effect at 4am on Tuesday 8 June.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the measures are being implemented "to safeguard public health against variants of concern and protect our vaccine rollout".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was "a difficult decision" and Portugal was downgraded because the government wants to give the UK "the best possible chance of unlocking domestically" on 21 June.

He said the emerging Nepal mutation of the Indian variant was of concern and Portugal's positivity rate has "nearly doubled since the last review".

There were hopes some Greek and Spanish islands, and Malta could have been added to the green list in the first review of the system since it came into play three weeks ago.

Portugal was the only major holiday destination on the 12 country green list, meaning tourists could return to the UK without having to quarantine.

Nearly 20% of Portugal's population has been fully vaccinated and cases are relatively low but have been increasing over the past week.

Madeira and the Azores are also moving with mainland Portugal from green to amber.

People arriving in the UK from amber list countries have to take two post-arrival tests on day two and day eight after arriving and self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day five.

Those returning from green locations are not required to self-isolate but they must take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the government has "caused chaos with the mishandling of travel restrictions at the border".

Labour's Mr Symonds added: "The confusion over the 'Amber List' has led to reports of over 50,000 people travelling to the UK daily, with only a tiny percentage going into hotel quarantine and a stream of flights entering the UK from 'Amber List' countries.

"Labour has warned time and time again that this is leaving the door wide open to new strains of the virus.

"Moving Portugal onto the 'Amber List' is not the answer. The 'Amber List' itself should be scrapped.

"Ministers also now need a clear plan to manage the confusion that will result in Portugal being removed from the 'Green List' so quickly and must publish all of the data behind this decision."

Meanwhile, in a tweet, the Portuguese foreign ministry said it could not understand the "logic" behind the UK Government's decision to move Portugal to the amber list.

UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: "Increases in case rates in the UK serve as a reminder that this pandemic is not over yet and we need to take a cautious approach.

"Everyone should observe the travel guidance, continue to follow hands, face, space and fresh air, and have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine when offered."

Shares in airlines easyJet and British Airways and travel companies TUI and Jet2 fell on fears Europe would lose another peak travel season, when millions of Britons usually head to southern Europe.

The industry has already been weakened by 15 months of lockdowns and many companies - and countries - had been hoping for a summer boom as the UK has one of Europe's highest vaccination rates, with 75% of adults having one dose and 50% having two.

Lockdown restrictions are easing across the UK but the Indian variant, also called the Delta variant, has caused concern.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said: "This excessive caution could be the final nail in the coffin for the travel industry which has borne the economic brunt of the COVID-19 crisis with no help from the government."

BALPA's acting general secretary Brian Strutton said: "This decision is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses.

"We understand that safety comes first, but with vaccination programmes going well in many countries, it seems the government is ignoring the evidence and is allowing safe countries to languish in the amber and red categories for no valid reason.

"Any shred of public confidence is in tatters and the traffic light system seems stuck on red.

"Our airlines need this summer season if they are to survive. The government must look at the evidence and stop this illogical, over-cautious approach, that is killing a once-thriving industry."

Ahead of the list announcement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned: "We have got to follow the data and of course, I understand why people want to travel but we've got to make sure we keep this country safe, especially because the vaccine programme is going so well.

"We have seen hospitalisations and deaths come right down and we have to got to protect the progress we have made here at home, whilst allowing for travel where it is safe.

"You have got to follow the data."

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson said the government will have "no hesitation" in moving countries off the green list if necessary.

Each country is assessed based on a range of factors, including what proportion of a population is vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing. Yahoo News

Dutch envoy to Rwanda, Matthijs Wolters says Rwanda and the Netherlands will continue their cooperation in the Justice sector. / courtesy

 

The Kingdom of the Netherlands and Rwanda are committed to strengthening their cooperation in improving different areas of Rwanda’s justice sector.

The two countries are now celebrating 25 years of justice cooperation during which the Dutch government regularly contributed in supporting Rwanda’s justice sector in different sectors, especially in improving legal services using technology.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has had a development cooperation relationship with Rwanda for the last two decades.

Development cooperation between the two countries started long before the Genocide against the Tutsi, in the 1980s and was dispensed through Dutch organizations such as SNV (the Netherlands Development Organization) and faith-based NGOs.

Dutch envoy to Rwanda, Matthijs Wolters, said the cooperation that the two countries have achieved is worth celebrating, emphasizing it will get even better in the future as the Netherlands contributes to build a strong and efficient justice system in Rwanda.

“This is a milestone, which should be celebrated not just because of our past partnership but most importantly how far Rwanda has come in building a Justice system from scratch. Our commitment has been budget support, different projects in different facets of the Rwandan justice sector,” he said.

Theophile Mbonera, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said the Netherlands has been supporting Rwanda’s justice sector, especially the Gacaca courts.

“A lot of court employees were killed during the Genocide, some were tried and sentenced as a result of their participation in the Genocide and others were forced to exile. As a result, the justice sector had to start from scratch just like other sectors did,” Mbonera said.

As the sector was looking to start over, the government of Netherlands supported Rwanda in terms of capacity building and the construction of justice infrastructure.

“As we celebrate 25 years of cooperation in justice, we thank the Netherlands for being among the first to support our justice sector in the rebuilding process,” he said.

Bringing Genocide fugitives to justice

Netherlands is one of the countries that hosts a number of Genocide fugitives as Rwanda continue to push for their extradition or trial.

Two genocide fugitives have so far been extradited from Netherlands and, as the prosecution continues to track down more fugitives in different countries across the world, including the Netherlands, both countries are committed to working together in bringing them account.

“We have already extradited two suspects who are on trial now in Rwanda. Basically Netherlands collaborates with the Rwandan prosecution, and there are ongoing investigations but they take long and have to be meticulously managed as you can understand,” Wolters said

Mbonera said the cooperation will help both countries in the process of extraditing more fugitives.

Going forward, the Netherlands is now committed to supporting Rwanda’s justice sector in its initiative to bring justice services closer to the community as well as in the enforcement of the use of technology dubbed ‘Electronic Case Management System’ (IECMS), to ensure rapid and efficient justice which enables courts to address the issue of accumulation of case backlog. - Eddie Nsabimana, The New Times

 
 

The Queen’s courtiers banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from serving in clerical roles in the royal household until at least the late 1960s, according to newly discovered documents that will reignite the debate over the British royal family and race.

The documents also shed light on how Buckingham Palace negotiated controversial clauses – that remain in place to this day – exempting the Queen and her household from laws that prevent race and sex discrimination.

The papers were discovered at the National Archives as part of the Guardian’s ongoing investigation into the royal family’s use of an arcane parliamentary procedure, known as Queen’s consent, to secretly influence the content of British laws.

They reveal how in 1968, the Queen’s chief financial manager informed civil servants that “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles in the royal household, although they were permitted to work as domestic servants. 

It is unclear when the practice ended. Buckingham Palace refused to answer questions about the ban and when it was revoked. It said its records showed people from ethnic minority backgrounds being employed in the 1990s. It added that before that decade, it did not keep records on the racial backgrounds of employees.

Exemptions from the law

In the 1960s government ministers sought to introduce laws that would make it illegal to refuse to employ an individual on the grounds of their race or ethnicity.

The Queen has remained personally exempted from those equality laws for more than four decades. The exemption has made it impossible for women or people from ethnic minorities working for her household to complain to the courts if they believe they have been discriminated against.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace did not dispute that the Queen had been exempted from the laws, adding that it had a separate process for hearing complaints related to discrimination. The palace did not respond when asked what this process consists of.

The exemption from the law was brought into force in the 1970s, when politicians implemented a series of racial and sexual equality laws to eradicate discrimination.

Related: More than 50,000 people call for inquiry into use of Queen's consent

The official documents reveal how government officials in the 1970s coordinated with Elizabeth Windsor’s advisers on the wording of the laws.

The documents are likely to refocus attention on the royal family’s historical and current relationship with race.

Much of the family’s history is inextricably linked with the British empire, which subjugated people around the world. Some members of the royal family have also been criticised for their racist comments.

In March the Duchess of Sussex, the family’s first mixed-race member, said she had had suicidal thoughts during her time in the royal family, and alleged that a member of the family had expressed concern about her child’s skin colour.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a horse-drawn carriage after attending the Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2018.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex after attending the Queen’s birthday parade in 2018. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

The allegation compelled her brother-in-law, Prince William, to declare that the royal family was “very much not” racist.

Queen’s consent

Some of the documents uncovered by the Guardian relate to the use of Queen’s consent, an obscure parliamentary mechanism through which the monarch grants parliament permission to debate laws that affect her and her private interests.

Buckingham Palace says the process is a mere formality, despite compelling evidence that the Queen has repeatedly used the power to secretly lobby ministers to amend legislation she does not like.

The newly discovered documents reveal how the Queen’s consent procedure was used to secretly influence the formation of the draft race relations legislation.

In 1968, the then home secretary, James Callaghan, and civil servants at the Home Office appear to have believed that they should not request Queen’s consent for parliament to debate the race relations bill until her advisers were satisfied it could not be enforced against her in the courts.

At the time, Callaghan wanted to expand the UK’s racial discrimination laws, which only prohibited discrimination in public places, so that they also prevented racism in employment or services such as housing.

James Callaghan pictured with the Queen in 1977, welcoming the then French president, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, to Windsor Castle.
James Callaghan pictured with the Queen in 1977, welcoming the then French president, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, to Windsor Castle. Photograph: PA

A key proposal of the bill was the Race Relations Board, which would act as an ombudsman for discrimination complaints and could bring court proceedings against individuals or companies that maintained racist practices.

‘Not the practice to appoint coloured immigrants’

In February 1968, a Home Office civil servant, TG Weiler, summarised the progress of discussions with Lord Tryon, the keeper of the privy purse, who was responsible for managing the Queen’s finances, and other courtiers.

Tryon, he wrote, had informed them Buckingham Palace was prepared to comply with the proposed law, but only if it enjoyed similar exemptions to those provided to the diplomatic service, which could reject job applicants who had been resident in the UK for less than five years.

According to Weiler, Tryon considered staff in the Queen’s household to fall into one of three types of roles: “(a) senior posts, which were not filled by advertising or by any overt system of appointment and which would presumably be accepted as outside the scope of the bill; (b) clerical and other office posts, to which it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners; and (c) ordinary domestic posts for which coloured applicants were freely considered, but which would in any event be covered by the proposed general exemption for domestic employment.”

“They were particularly concerned,” Weiler wrote, “that if the proposed legislation applied to the Queen’s household it would for the first time make it legally possible to criticise the household. Many people do so already, but this has to be accepted and is on a different footing from a statutory provision.”

By March, Buckingham Palace was satisfied with the proposed law. A Home Office official noted that the courtiers “agreed that the way was now open for the secretary of state to seek the Queen’s consent to place her interest at the disposal of parliament for the purpose of the bill.”

The phrasing of the documents is highly significant, because it suggests that Callaghan and the Home Office officials believed it might not be possible to obtain the Queen’s consent for parliament to debate the racial equality law unless the monarch was assured of her exemption.

As a result of this exemption, the Race Relations Board that was given the task of investigating racial discrimination would send any complaints from the Queen’s staff to the home secretary rather than the courts.

In the 1970s, the government brought in three laws to counter racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. Complainants in general were empowered to take their cases directly to the courts.

But staff in the royal household were specifically prevented from doing so, although the wording of the ban was sufficiently vague that the public might not have realised the monarch’s staff had been exempted.

A civil servant noted that the exemption in the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act had been “acceptable to the palace, largely because it did not explicitly single out persons employed by Her Majesty in her personal capacity for special exception” while still removing them from its scope.

Do you have information about Buckingham Palace and its employment practices? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or (using a non-work phone) use Signal or WhatsApp to message +44 7584 640566

The exemption was extended to the present day when in 2010 the Equality Act replaced the 1976 Race Relations Act, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act and the 1970 Equal Pay Act. For many years, critics have regularly pointed out that the royal household employed few black, Asian or minority-ethnic people.

In 1990 the journalist Andrew Morton reported in the Sunday Times that “a black face has never graced the executive echelons of royal service – the household and officials” and “even among clerical and domestic staff, there is only a handful of recruits from ethnic minorities”.

The following year, the royal researcher Philip Hall published a book, Royal Fortune, in which he cited a source close to the Queen confirming that there were no non-white courtiers in the palace’s most senior ranks.

In 1997 the Palace admitted to the Independent that it was not carrying out an officially recommended policy of monitoring staff numbers to ensure equal opportunities.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The royal household and the sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act, in principle and in practice. This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the royal household.

“Any complaints that might be raised under the act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint.” The palace did not respond when asked if the monarch was subject to this act in law. By David Pegg and Rob Evans, Yahoo News

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