Panel Discussion: Immigration & Empire

This panel discussion forms part of a three-part public seminar series on the past and present of slavery, organised by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and moderated by Samantha Knights QC. The discussion will address the implications of slavery for the present day; different approaches to colonial governance; the history of immigration law; the Windrush report; the importance of training and education; and ‘decolonisation’ of the curriculum.

Wendy Williams is HM Inspector of Constabulary, and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services. She has responsibility for 13 police forces across Wales and the West of England and 11 fire and rescue services in the West of England and is the Senior Responsible Officer for the Criminal Justice and Joint Inspections portfolio. She was previously a Chief Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service and before that a solicitor and partner in private practice. Wendy Williams is also the author of the independent Lessons Learned Review into the Home Office and its handling of events leading up to the Windrush scandal. This was presented to Parliament in March 2020. More recently, she was also appointed as a non-executive director of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list of 2021.

Alex Balch is a professor of politics at the University of Liverpool with research interests in policies on immigration and modern slavery. He has experience designing and implementing programmes and providing leadership in a diverse range of national and international contexts. He currently leads the Antislavery Knowledge Network which seeks to apply innovative methods to tackle modern slavery across Sub-Saharan Africa, funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) via the national Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). He is also Director of Research at the Policy and Evidence Centre on Modern Slavery and Human Rights based at the Bingham Centre which seeks to enhance understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to overcome it.

Zimbabwean-born Fareda Banda is a Professor of Law at SOAS, University of London. She writes on women’s rights, family law and more recently gender and religion, law, literature and the intersection with human rights. Her books include Women, Law and Human Rights in Africa, Women’s Rights and Religious Law (an edited collection with Lisa Fishbayn Joffe) and the newly published African Migration, Human Rights and Literature. Fareda has been commissioned to write reports for various UN agencies including a report on Laws that Discriminate against Women for the OHCHR and, more recently, with John Eekelaar a report on International Conceptions of the Family for UN Women. Fareda is actively engaged with various human rights organisations; she is a Trustee of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA). She also sits on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch Africa and the policy committee of Human Rights Watch. She enjoys teaching and has taught in many jurisdictions.

Samantha Knights QC is a practising barrister at Matrix specialising in public law and civil liberties with a focus on modern slavery, trafficking and refugee law. She has been involved in a number of recent challenges to policy, law and practice relating to the immigration status, support and accommodation for victims of slavery and trafficking as well as numerous other strategic human rights cases before the courts in the UK and Strasbourg. She is the chair of the Advisory Board of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami where she teaches international human rights law. Her new book Law, Rights, and Religion will be published by OUP in February 2021.