Following a series of last-minute legal appeals which forced the Home Office to postpone the deportation of 43 individuals, a chartered flight bound for Jamaica left the UK with seven people onboard this morning (August 11).
Of the seven people who were deported, three were taken from prison and four from immigration detention. According to the Guardian, among those from the latter group was one individual suffering from mental confusion, is physically frail, and had to be carried on to the plane. He is believed to have a Windrush case. Another recently lost a child and had to leave his partner, the mother of their child, to grieve alone.
Among the original 50 were several dozen people who arrived in the UK as minors. Campaigners argued that deporting people who came to the UK while under the age of 12 would be a reversal of an agreement made between the Home Office and Jamaica’s High Commissioner Seth Ramocan in November 2020.
Campaigners have protested that it is unreasonable to deport people from a country where they have lived since childhood to a country where they have no ties. A previous Freedom Of Information request shows that people from Caribbean countries such as Jamaica are disproportionately targeted for deportation following a crime.
On the day of the deportation, Director of Detention Action Bella Sankey said, “This chaotic flight is the beginning of the end for mass Home Office charter flights. Horrifying suicide attempts and an unwell Windrush man being carried on to the plane, the disasters are endless. This is not how a civilised country conducts itself and public disquiet is rightly growing.”
Others have raised issues about deportation flights taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maria Thomas, a solicitor who represented some individuals due to be on the flight, said: “We know the detention centre was not COVID secure as there were confirmed cases including one of my clients. It took us three stern letters to even get paracetamol for him. The home secretary’s removal practice by way of charter flights in this manner is brutal and inhumane, and a massive burden on the taxpayer. This is particularly so during a pandemic.”
On August 11, Home Secretary Priti Patel stood firm on her position, saying “These individuals are responsible for some of most appalling crimes – rape, assault, grievous bodily harm, drug offences, and sexual assault of children. They have violated our laws and values and have left their victims living with the scars of the crimes that took place against them. The British people should be in no doubt of my determination to remove these criminals to protect both the victims of their crimes and the public.”
While the fate of the remaining 43 individuals is yet unclear, below are some actions you can take to help protect them from deportation.
How To Help Stop Deportations
- Sign the Change.org petition to stop the deportations, and share the petition where possible.
- Tweet @UKHomeOffice and call on them to cancel any scheduled chartered flights.
- Write to your local MP to call on them to challenge the Home Secretary (Black Activists Against Cuts has a useful email template that you can use). Find contact details for your local MP here, and make sure to add your address and phone number in your correspondence so that you can be verified as a constituent.
- Publicly tweet your local MP also to ask what they are doing in the situation, and ask them to challenge the Home Secretary’s decision. Find your local MP’s Twitter details here.
- Follow @BARACUK, @DetentionAction, Movement For Justice, and the Migrants’ Rights Network on Twitter to follow and share news reports.
- If you know someone who will be impacted by the Home Office's actions, urge them to get legal advice straight away. BARAC UK, DetentionAction, and Black and Asian Lawyers For Justice have resources to help.
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