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Aberystwyth hosts migration conference

Hate crimes, hostility and the response of civil society to migration will be the focus for a one day symposium held at Aberystwyth University on Tuesday 2 July 2019.

An Unsettled status? Migration in a turbulent age, is hosted by WISERD – the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods – and takes place at the Medrus Conference Centre on the University’s Penglais Campus.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Kathy Burrell from the University of Liverpool who will present her research on ‘Unsettling Freedom of Movement? Hostile Environments, Conditionality, and the Experiences of Polish migrants on the Eve of Brexit’.

Other speakers include Dr Taulant Guma from Edinburgh Napier University, Professor Stephen Drinkwater, University of Roehampton, London and organizer Dr Rhys Dafydd Jones from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

According to Dr Rhys Dafydd Jones, the last decade can be characterised as representing a turbulent age, with thousands of migrants seeking to build new lives after fleeing war, persecution or from economic necessity.

“Austerity, populist politics, and an increasing climate of hostility and xenophobia have been observed across Europe, North America, and elsewhere”, he said.

“These politics have unsettled previously hegemonic norms and expectations in the political arena, as well as having implications for international migrants, whose lives may have become increasingly challenging and their futures more uncertain.  For example, hostile rhetoric and policies have targeted migrants, their families, international students, asylum seekers, and refugees, placing additional responsibilities and conditions on them, and limiting their rights.

“Furthermore, the repatriation of long-standing residents and the removal of citizenship demonstrates the extent that “taken-for-granted statuses” can be subject to change.  These practices question the extent to which ‘denizenship’ – the rights afforded to non-citizen residents – continues to be a meaningful concept, as well as highlighting the implications for promoting a cohesive, inclusive and diverse society.

“We are delighted to host this event at Aberystwyth University and look forward to meaningful and insightful discussions that will help us to better understand the challenges that are faced by so many.”

Amongst the many themes covered by the symposium will be austerity and precarity; negotiating uncertainty and hostility; belonging, anchoring, and identity; integration, cohesion and citizenship, hate crimes and violence; and sanctuary, refugees and asylum seekers.

International Ombudsmen gather at Aberystwyth

Public Services Ombudsmen from the UK, Ireland and Catalonia will gather at Aberystwyth University on Friday 21 June 2019 for an international seminar on how they hold public services to account.

Chaired by Dr Elin Royles from the University’s Department of International Politics and Centre for Welsh Politics and Society, the expert seminar will bring together Rosemary Agnew, Public Services Officer for Scotland; Marie Anderson, Public Services Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

They will be joined by Peter Tyndall, President of the International Ombudsman Institution; Rafael Ribo, Ombudsman for Catalonia and European President of the IOI, and Llyr Gruffydd AM, Chair of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly for Wales.

Also speaking at the event are Dr Richard Kirkham, Sheffield University and Ania Rolewska a PhD candidate at Aberystwyth University studying in this area.

It is the second seminar organised at Aberystwyth University to discuss the powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, an independent office with legal powers to investigate complaints about public services.

The seminar focuses on new powers recently granted to the Ombudsman in Wales, including ‘own initiative’ powers to start investigations where there is evidence to suggest that there is a wider public interest issue.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Elin Royles said: “This timely seminar follows the enactment in May 2019 of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019 and provides a valuable opportunity to discuss the implications of the new powers, particularly by drawing on comparative insights of good practice in other parts of the UK and Europe. In doing so, we can contribute to broader discussions on the Ombudsman’s role in holding public services to account.”

Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said: “This event is a fantastic opportunity to bring together the Ombudsman community and share best practice. We will also look at how my office’s new powers could give a greater voice to the voiceless. For example, we know that people are sometimes reluctant or scared to come forward, so the new legislation will allow people to complain anonymously, and if our criteria are satisfied, we will be able to investigate. I am looking forward to implementing this exciting change, and am confident it will contribute to better public service delivery in Wales.”

The ‘Best Practice Seminar: New Powers and Possibilities: the Ombudsman and improving public service delivery’ starts at 09:45 on Friday 21 June 2019 and attendance is by invitation only.