Urgent action needed: Home Office plan pre Christmas mass deportation to Jamaica during lockdown
Nov 18, 2020 —
Following reports from families that their loved ones have been detained and transferred to deportation centres this week , we have received confirmation from the Home Office that they are planning a deportation charter flight to Jamaica in the first week of December which we believe to be planned for the 2nd of December.
We think this is disgraceful and racist for a number of reasons and is a breach of human rights as well as being very dangerous, given the coronavirus pandemic.
During the lockdown earlier this year, signing in with the Home Office requirements were relaxed and many of those held in detention centres were released because of the pandemic.
So it is shocking that while we are in the middle of another England lockdown that the Home Office would plan a deportation flight, expected to be on the last day of the current lockdown without reviewing the impact of this and deciding what needs to happen next.
Taking people who could be carriers to detention centres now could mean they pass covid-19 to those inside the detention centre and spread the virus.
Currently no visitors are allowed and we have already heard from distraught family members who say they and their children will have no opportunity to see their loved one or in the event they were deported, to say goodbye. Those who have been detained were given no notice and many are taken when they sign in with the Home Office so would not have expected to be snatched and taken suddenly during the pandemic so did not say goodbye to their families in advance. In the lead up to the charter flight last year there were reports of immigration officers also going to the homes of family looking for people to take, causing distress, especially for children present. If this happens now, again this is putting people at risk of covid-19.
When people are deported they are cuffed to an usher and squashed up in close proximity in a vehicle to be transferred to an air field and on the plane they are chained to two guards, again not acceptable during a pandemic when people are supposed to be socially distancing and in addition when we are in a second wave with death rates rising.
Also black people are up to 4 times more likely to contract and die of coronavirus and as such they are in the high risk group, there may be other factors on top of this that put them in a high risk group, so detaining and deporting them is risking their lives, in the middle of the pandemic.
Once deported, the restrictions in Jamaica or any other Caribbean country they are subsequently transferred to, will mean that access to support will be even harder.
Even if there was not a pandemic we oppose such inhumane mass deportations. The labelling and demonising of those the Home Office target means that they are at further risk and it increases the trauma they and their families are already experiencing.
The Windrush Lessons Learned report was published this year during the pandemic and it made 30 recommendations for the Home Office to address what the report described as 'institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards race and the history of black people in the UK'. There should be no plans to deport people to the Caribbean given the failure to implement the recommendations and actually 'learn lessons'.
During this summer there have been mass protests in the UK opposing racism that exists and calling for action, the government has established a Race Commission and are currently in the middle of consultation on this. Whilst we don't need more reports to tell us that racism exists, the fact that the recommendations of several inquiries into racism in the UK have not been implemented means it is unacceptable to go ahead with deportations of black people. Just a few days ago the joint parliamentary committee on human rights published a report here : https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3376/documents/32359/default/
This report highlights the discrimination faced through immigration policy, policing and the criminal justice system and states that Lessons Learned recommendations plus all the other recommendations from other reports they list must be urgently implemented.
You can read our BAME Lawyers for Justice open response here:
Our advice to anyone who may be impacted and their families is to get urgent legal support now, if you haven't already, to alert your lawyers that there is a planned charter flight and if you need advice or legal representation you can also contact BAME Lawyers for Justice or BARAC UK.
Please can you take the following urgent action to express your concerns about the planned charter flight to Jamaica:
If you are on twitter, tweet @ukhomeoffice and call on them to stop the flight. Please use the hashtags #Jamaica50 and #enddeportations
Write to your MP and ask them to raise concerns urgently with the Home Secretary
If you don't know who your MP is or how to contact them you can do this through this link, you just need your home address postcode:
Thank you for your support.
On behalf of BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice
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