18 November 2021: The Home Office wanted to deport a 75-year-old American woman with a Zimmer frame who has lived in the UK since 1968 after she received a 12-month prison sentence for drugs offences. Now overturned on appeal. https://bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/IAC/2021/287.html
Senior judges said deporting Polly Gordon, 75, would disproportionately interfere with her human rights
[..] Karen Doyle, of the organisation Movement For Justice, condemned the Home Office plans to deport Gordon. “There’s nothing that illustrates more starkly the inhumanity of the Home Office than their plans to put an elderly and infirm woman on a plane to a country she hasn’t lived in since the 1960s,” she said. “People like her are viewed as low-hanging fruit by the Home Office. This is exactly how the Windrush generation were viewed.”
11 November 2021: Guardian: UK deportation flight with four onboard raises questions over viability
Jamaica charter cost equivalent of £50,000 per person, as Home Office hits out at legal challenges
The Home Office’s admission that only four people were deported to Jamaica on a flight in the early hours of Wednesday morning has raised questions about the continuing viability of such flights.
The Airbus A350-900, which can take up to 350 passengers, left Birmingham airport at 1.20am on Wednesday with four of an original list of more than 50 deportees onboard, along with escorts and crew. The average cost of a Home Office deportation charter flight is £200,000, so the operation cost the equivalent of £50,000 a person. The numbers removed on the last four Jamaica charter flights have decreased steadily at 17, 13, seven and now four.
[…] Karen Doyle, of the organisation Movement For Justice, said: “These unjust flights rip families apart. Of the 34 detainees we spoke to many had no or inadequate legal representatives.”
Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, said: “All of those removed from this flight were removed because either the court or the Home Office decided their removal would be unlawful. Yet still those removed may have had inadequate legal advice as a result of the shambolic operation of the legal advice system in detention. The high court has now given permission for Detention Action’s challenge to these shortcomings to be heard next month.”
9 November 2021: Guardian: Most detainees taken off deportation flight list to Jamaica after activists block road
Stop the Plane protesters lock themselves to pipes outside detention centre near Gatwick airport
Most of the people due to board a controversial deportation flight to Jamaica on Wednesday have been removed from the flight list, as anti-deportation activists have blocked the road in front of a detention centre to try to prevent them from being put on the plane.
The activists, calling themselves Stop The Plane, have locked themselves to metal pipes outside Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport.
Originally more than 50 Jamaican nationals were due to fly, but the Guardian understands most are no longer on the passenger list.
The flight was due to depart at 1am on Wednesday morning with only two or three passengers onboard. Messages online from anti-deportation groups said the flight departed Birmingham airport with just three deportees on board a plane able to seat 350 people.
Home Office deportation flights to Jamaica are controversial because of the Windrush scandal. Although the Home Office says nobody from the Windrush generation is on the list, some have Windrush connections.
Event: URGENT DEMO! next Thursday 4 November 2021 JA govt @AndrewHolnessJM must REFUSE flight!
Updated 10 November 2021: The Guardian – Most detainees taken off deportation flight list to Jamaica after activists block road
Most of the people due to board a controversial deportation flight to Jamaica on Wednesday have been removed from the flight list, as anti-deportation activists have blocked the road in front of a detention centre to try to prevent them from being put on the plane.
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/nov/09/two-thirds-of-detainees-due-to-be-deported-to-jamaica-removed-from-list?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
Updated 30 October 2021: Movement for Justice@followMFJ 6 Jamaican detainees came UK as kids. Londoners, Mancunians & Brummies. half groomed into criminal activity as children. contact JA High Commissioner- unacceptable JA allows deportation of people, British in all but passport colour.
Updated 28 October 2021: Movement for Justice@followMFJ·first removal directions issued for #Jamaica50 charter flight – THE FLIGHT IS SCHEDULED FOR 10th NOVEMBER – most Jamaicans detained at Colnbrook where COVID is once again ripping through the centre @AndrewHolnessJM you can REFUSE! #StopThePlane#EndDeportations#KillBordersBill
Updated 7 September 2021: The Examiner: Man who came to Bradford aged nine deported and given just £40 to start new life thousands of miles away from family and friends
Bruce Mpofu has no friends or family in Zimbabwe after moving to the UK when he was nine – with fears he could end up homeless
A man who moved to the UK at the age of nine was given only £40 to help him start a new life after he was deported back to Zimbabwe.
However, at 15 he got in with the wrong crowd and committed a crime which meant he was in breach of immigration laws.
Bruce then had to attend regular meetings before he was told on July 8 that he would be deported.
He does not have any friends or family in the country due to the number of years he has lived in the UK and there are fears he could end up homeless after being handed only £40 to help him start a new life in Zimbabwe.
Updated 3 September 2021: Guardian: Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights in 2020
The Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights last year, the Guardian has learned, including more than £500,000 for planes that never left the tarmac.
At least 828 people were removed by air, more than double the 410 removed on similar charters in 2019. The department spent £8.2m on 47 charters to 24 countries in 2020, with 18 of those countries in Europe.
The Home Office no longer provides specific figures when there are fewer than 10 people on a flight. Eleven of the flights had fewer than 10 people on board, meaning the exact number is unclear.
Ministers also paid £575,748 for five flights that never took off – two to Spain, two to Pakistan and one to Somalia. Officials say that they paid less than the usual cancellation costs on these flights as some flights could be rebooked or rescheduled.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “These lavishly expensive flights make a mockery of good governance and value for money. But even worse than the economic waste, is the harm and pain they’ve funded. Semi-naked, self-harming refugees have been exported to face destitution across Europe and black British families unable to pay legal fees have been ripped apart by these flights.
“At present, our deportation and removals system is unsafe & unjust and any airline which believes in corporate social responsibility should refuse to operate it.”
Updated 26 August 2021: from SNN signatory BARAC@BARACUK: TUI Airways lines its pockets from human misery The British charter airline has been responsible for at least 21 deportation flights since January 2021. Enough is enough, says ZITA HOLBOURNE, Chair of @BARACUK https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tui-airways-lines-its-pockets-human-misery…
The 7, down from an initial 9, are now heading to Zipam quarantine centre where they will stay during the mandatory 10 days of isolation.
Sources at Gatwick Airport told ZimEye, scores of Zimbabweans were bundled up at 5pm yesterday en route for deportation to Zimbabwe.
Although there was no traceable detail on flight tracking websites, a chartered jet is expected to arrive with the group of deportees at RGM airport on Thursday morning.
The phone number of Zimbabweans deported could not be determined at the time of writing.
The deportations are part of an agreement between the British Embassy in Harare and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in which 6,000 Zimbabweans classified as foreign offenders are being sent back to their country of birth.
Read more here: BREAKING: UK Deportation Flight Arrives In Harare – ZimEye
Updated 24 August 2021: African Global Voices adds that most of the people who are being deported have long-term medical conditions, and require medicine 💊 daily which will not be available to them in Zimbabwe.
The TUC has today (Tuesday) called on the government to urgently suspend all deportation flights and to address “the miscarriages of justice that have taken place within the immigration system”.
The call comes as more flights are planned for this summer.
The full statement to the Home Office reads:
The TUC stands for the rights of all workers from all countries, regardless of immigration status.
The TUC calls on the government to suspend deportation flights until it has fully addressed the miscarriages of justice that have taken place within the immigration system, and to scrap the new Nationality and Borders Bill that would breach international human rights law and increase worker exploitation.
The TUC is concerned that the Home Office does not adequately check the circumstances of those they targeted for deportation. Many have no family, social or financial links with the countries they are due to be deported to, and would be placed at risk of persecution, isolation and poverty.
These deportations are also taking place whilst high levels of Covid-19 infections are still present in immigration detention centres. This puts both residents and staff at risk and jeopardises the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers, those involved in the deportations, and communities in the countries that asylum seekers are deported to.
We are also concerned about the utilisation of commercial airlines and the chartering of specific flights in forced deportations and the impact this has on front-line staff, including ongoing incidents of trauma suffered by those working on flights carrying deportees.
The government’s hardening attitude, indicated by the increased rate of deportations, is reflected in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which proposes that those fleeing persecution will not have the right to claim asylum in the UK. This is a clear breach of the UK’s commitments under the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. The Bill also seeks to prevent many asylum seekers from being able to claim rights at work which will increase the exploitation of workers.
TUC Congress 2015 asserted the need for the government to ensure there are safe, legal routes for people fleeing persecution to claim protection in the UK, and that the rights of asylum seekers are respected. The TUC echoes the call made by our European trade union partners for governments to uphold the UN Refugee Convention and ensure those fleeing persecution can claim asylum and rights at work.
BARAC@BARACUK·@The_TUC Statement calling for mass deportations to stop #stoptheplane#Zimbabwe150@CookieBaloo@brolezhollowayhttps://tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-calls-deportation-flights-be-suspended…@BameFor@OpBlackVote
Men who were deported to Zimbabwe on a charter flight last month are homeless and living in fear of the authorities, it has emerged, as the Home Office prepares to send another mass removal flight to the country.
The Independent has spoken to two deportees who are living on the streets of Zimbabwean cities Harare and Bulawayo and are having to “beg for food” after being forcibly removed along with 13 others on a controversial flight to the southern African nation on 21 July.
Campaigners are meanwhile calling on the Home Office to halt a second removal flight to Zimbabwe scheduled for Wednesday. Dozens of Zimbabweans are said to have been rounded up and placed in removal centres in recent weeks, including those who have been in Britain since they were young children.
This is not new information but just to highlight that when racism leads to miscarriages of justice, and that miscarriage of justice leads to deportation, we have a serious problem and people’s lives are put at risk:
The National Police Chiefs’ Council is implementing a board to scrutinise its policing of Black communities. An ex-police officer said he is ‘highly sceptical’ of efforts by senior police chiefs to tackle racism in policing.
Ali Hassan Ali, 40, claims Black men are often viewed as suspects before committing a crime by officers. Mr Hassan welcomes the fact the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race is being scrutinised by an independent oversight board chaired by high profile barrister Abimbola Johnson.
But he doubts the council’s ability to progress relations with Black communities. “Police chiefs are outdated and out of touch,” Mr Ali said. “There’s always advisory and inquiry groups. There are so many groups and boards but no change.
Updated 21 August 2021: BARAC@BARACUK·Update* we are hearing that deportations on commercial flights for those in Colnbrook have all been cancelled but no confirmation re charter flight mass deportations. Covid has spread and inadequate support, care or action for those with covid. #stoptheplane#Zimbabwe150
Updated 19 August2021: BARAC: Second Mass Deportation to Zimbabwe: Home Office Summer of Suffering for Black & Asian communities
There is a second summer deportation charter flight to Zimbabwe on 25th August, only 1 month after the last. This also follows mass deportations to Vietnam in July and Jamaica last week where of 90 people targeted only 7 were deported but still 7 people torn from their homes and families. Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones.
But the low numbers actually deported on these flights demonstrate they should never have been targeted in the first place.
Last week following the flight to Jamaica which was operated by Spanish airline Wamos Air, BARAC UK, Black and Asian Lawyers for Justice together with the organisations which co-organised the Zimbabwe petition met along with community groups also campaigning against deportations and detention and agreed some actions to campaign against this deepening hostile and racist environment faced by migrant communities in the UK and we will update you with actions to get involved in.
Please read on for some actions you can take and be involved in: https://www.change.org/p/stop-all-charter-flight-mass-deportations-to-jamaica-other-commonwealth-countries-jamaica50/u/29483945
Updated 17 August 2021: Movement for Justice@followMFJ Guess 2 much 2 ask @ukhomeoffice take COVID safety seriously & properly lock down Colnbrook – now ravaged by COVID. found out they snatched Albanians last night 4 yet another charter flight to country already struggling w/COVID #Jamaica50#StopThePlane
Home Office accused of ‘putting political agenda ahead of public health’ as new detainees moved into removal centre ahead of deportation flights despite coronavirus outbreak
People in a UK removal centre say they fear for their lives after it emerged more than a dozen have tested positive for coronavirus but are not being moved to other units because there is “no space” to do so.
The Home Office has been accused of prioritising mass deportation flights over public health as it continues to detain people in Colnbrook removal centre, near Heathrow, despite an escalating Covid outbreak in …
My organisation @DetentionAction has supported tens of Afghans in detention in recent years. The highly traumatised people we have come across in detention frequently arrived in the UK as unaccompanied children having fled the most unimaginable horrors in Taliban controlled parts of Afghanistan including their parents being killed.
The @ukhomeoffice response to this was too often to reject asylum claims and then begin removal proceedings against them when they reached 18. The UK has forcibly removed tens of thousands of Afghans back to Afghanistan in the past decade. Until 2016 there were monthly charter flights, delivering people back to grave risks and to the catastrophe we are now seeing unfold.
As well as those refused asylum, anyone with a conviction and a sentence of over 12 months would be brutally removed, including young people who received convictions that were clearly linked to past traumatic experiences. Until the end of last week, the Home Office position was that people could safely relocate to Kabul and the Courts have frequently failed to properly challenge this claim.
There remain thousands of undocumented Afghans in the UK and people waiting on an asylum decision. We have one client currently still in detention.
Read more: http://www.equanicity.org/?p=2358
Updated 11 August 2021: This is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment by the UK Home Office and all that cause this situation to arise. Big shout out to Diane Taylor of the Guardian and May Bulman of the Independent, and the many others who keep this in the public eye :
BARAC@BARACUK·Of the 100 approx targeted by UK gov for deportation to Jamaica in early hrs of this morning we think 7 were actually on the plane thx to collective efforts. But that’s still 7 families ripped apart. Shame on @Wamosair who tweet about their pride in every flight. #jamaica50
High commissioner urges Home Office to stop flight because of Covid cases and spread of Delta variant
The hours before a controversial Home Office charter flight to Jamaica was due to take off were mired in chaos and confusion as more than a dozen people were removed from the flight after legal challenges.
The original Home Office “long list” for the flight is believed to have had 90 names on it. But the fate of the deportation flight hung in the balance on Tuesday evening as only about one tenth remained on the schedule. Tweets from a campaign group in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and flight tracker data, suggested the plane did eventually depart.
Sanjay McLean, whose lawyers argued that he has the right to British citizenship under the Windrush rules, secured a stay of execution in an out-of-hours high court hearing. But the Home Office appealed in an attempt to get him on the plane.
Two of the men due to fly attempted suicide and were taken to hospital.
The Jamaican government continued to raise concerns about whether the people due to fly were Covid-free and had had PCR tests before being taken to the plane. Discussions about whether to grant the plane landing rights in Kingston are understood to be ongoing. Concerns were also raised by lawyers and human rights campaigners about the vulnerability of some due to fly because of advanced age and mental health problems.
There have been at least two Covid cases confirmed among Jamaicans due to board the flight at Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow where most of those due to fly were being held. Some of the others were asked to isolate after close contact with those who had tested positive.
Updated 10 August 2021: Guardian: Jamaica calls for deportation flight from UK to be halted over Covid fears
High commissioner urges Home Office to stop flight after outbreak among those due to be onboard
The Jamaican government has called on the Home Office to halt a controversial deportation flight to the island nation scheduled to leave on Wednesday due to concerns over “importing” the Delta variant of Covid, the Guardian has learned.
A flight was scheduled to take off from Birmingham airport but is now due to take off from Stansted in the early hours of Wednesday morning. About 18 people are due to be deported. Many of those due to be removed have convictions for drug offences, some relatively minor ones and some more major.
It is understood many of those due to board the flight have not been deemed dangerous in assessments by Home Office officials. Many have British children and some have partners who are key workers, such as nurses for the NHS.
Updated 9 August 2021: Reported by ZHRO – deportation flight to Zimbabwe on 23rd August; and BARAC@BARACUK·In addition to the #Zimbabwe150 deportation flight 2 weeks ago #Vietnam22 flight a week ago & #jamaica50 flight this Weds, the Goverment have now arranged a 2nd mass deportation flight to Zimbabwe on 26th Aug. #stoptheplane
Home Office accused of ‘ignoring’ rules of Windrush scheme by trying to forcibly remove father-of-two
A man who has been in the UK for nearly 30 years and is believed to have the right to British citizenship under the Windrush scheme is facing deportation to Jamaica in two days. Sanjay McLean, 41, moved to Britain aged 12 in 1993 to join his father, Alpheus Thompson, a British citizen who first came to the country in the 1950s as part of the Windrush generation.
THE Home Office is pushing ahead with a widely condemned charter flight to Jamaica on Wednesday, despite claims that one deportee has tested positive for Covid-19.
Campaigners fear that there may be more cases of the virus at Colnbrook detention centre, near Heathrow, after a man tested positive on Sunday. It’s understood that he had previously been held in a shared dorm but has since been moved into isolation.
The detainee is one of dozens of men booked on the flight whose deportations have been triggered by past criminal convictions.
Many have lived in Britain since childhood and campaigners argue that removing people who have already served their sentences amounts to “double punishment.”
Several MPs have joined calls to halt the imminent flight, including former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who has branded the deportations “cruel, arbitrary and expensive.”
Karen Doyle of campaign group Movement for Justice said the detainee who has tested positive is still booked on tomorrow’s flight.
Exclusive: Local leaders, including London mayor, pledge not to collaborate with ‘draconian’ measures
Rules that came into effect on 1 January made rough sleeping grounds to cancel or refuse a non-British national’s right to be in the UK.
In April, the Home Office published guidance stating that the new powers can only be used if “a person has refused repeated offers of suitable support and engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour”.
But campaigners said the policy could push already vulnerable people, including victims of modern slavery, further into the fringes of society, and that the limitations announced in April were “far from sufficient”.
Now it has emerged that nine local authorities and 102 charities have vowed not to refer non-UK rough sleepers to the Home Office under the policy, by signing up to a campaign called Support don’t Deport
Observation from our signatory organisation Migrants At Work, Ake observes:
“If you have a job, you earn an income. If you earn an income, you get a roof over your head. If you have a job with no labour protections, we are all likely to lose it. Instead of deporting people, the government need to act to prevent people from losing their job in a first place”
Updated 8 August 2021: See the statement from StatusNow here: https://statusnow4all.org/shoulder-to-shoulder-everywhere-until-deportations-stop-and-statusnow4all-starts/
Update 7 August 2021: LBC: Caller awaiting deportation to Jamaica shares harrowing story with David Lammy
This caller is being held in a deportation centre to be sent to Jamaica next week – despite being in the UK since age 2.
The Home Office is sending a charter flight to Jamaica on 11 August filled with people who have served time in British Prisons, some of whom haven’t ever set foot on the Caribbean island.
David Lammy spoke to Omar, who arrived in the UK aged two and has spent the remaining 22 years of his life in Britain.
“I came to England when I was two years old and they’re trying to deport me on my convictions of the past, when I was a minor, from the ages of 14 to 17,” he told David.
The caller revealed he was being detained in Colnbrook awaiting deportation in a matter of days.
Jeremy Corbyn@jeremycorbyn: This cruel and discriminatory deportation flight must be cancelled. Many MPs, including myself, who have constituents scheduled to be on this deportation flight to Jamaica on August 11 will fight it all the way.
Update 6 August 2021: from StatusNow signatory organisation BARAC: On Change.org: Sign the petition: Cruel summer of mass deportations tearing families apart Stop #Jamaica50 deportation flight
Petition Update: Dear Supporters, It is now less than a week until the government plan to deport up to 50 people to Jamaica. They include people who came to the UK as small children, as young as 2 years old. The majority have British partners and children.
The government last year, ahead of their Christmas Covid deportation to Jamaica made an agreement not to deport those who came to the UK under age 12 but are now reneging on that. Branding people who have spent all their childhood and then adult life, done all their education in the UK, who have raised their own British born children here as foreign national criminals is disgraceful. Britain is their home.
on Twitter: BARAC@BARACUK· Today is #JamaicanIndependenceDay but the legacies of enslavement & colonialism led to #windrushscandal & nearly 60 years after independence why is Jamaica gov signing up to deals with @HomeOffice_UK to accept mass deportations by charter flight in 2021? #jamaica50#stoptheplane
Claudia Webbe MP Leicester East writes: Mass deportation flights have nothing to do with protecting the public. They are a cruel, racist, and disproportionate form of punishment that is not designed to make Britain safer but instead to stoke the flames of racial hatred and division.The upcoming charter flight to Jamaica must be abandoned, along with the entire hostile environment.
A reminder from Bail for Immigration Detainees – BID: of two reports dated 6 June 2021 Reports highlight the harms faced by UK families threatened with a family member’s deportation
Reports call on the Government to recognise the impacts of the immigration system on UK families, including British children.
UK families living with a member’s insecure immigration status and threat of deportation, face extreme and wide-ranging harm. According to new research, such families are likely to be poorer, sicker and unhappier, even when they include British citizens and children.
Two separate reports are being launched on 8 June: one by the Universities of Birmingham and Bristol, the other by Bail for Immigration Detainees. The reports call on policy- and decision-makers to recognise the impacts of the immigration system on UK families, including British children, and take steps to protect their human rights and ability to navigate the system more fairly.
Update 5 August: Guardian: Outcry over plan to deport Jamaican nationals who came to UK as children
Move comes despite Home Office ‘agreement’ not to remove those who arrived in Britain under age of 12
Preparations are being made for the deportation of a number of Jamaican nationals who came to the UK as children, in an apparent reversal of an earlier agreement not to deport people who arrived in this country as minors.
A charter flight to Jamaica is scheduled for 11 August, returning several dozen people whose criminal convictions have triggered deportation orders. However, campaigners have protested that it is unreasonable to remove people who have spent a lifetime in the UK to a country where they have no ties.
Last November the Home Office made an agreement with Jamaican officials not to remove people who came to the UK under the age of 12, according to Jamaican high commissioner Seth Ramocan. “They have consented to having an age limit. It’s a request that has been granted,” he told the Guardian last year. It is not clear whether this concession was granted only for the last Jamaica deportation charter in December, amid strong public pressure against the flight, with support from Bernardine Evaristo, model Naomi Campbell and historian David Olusoga.
Update 5 August 2021: Left Foot Forward: Government urged to cancel ‘discriminatory’ mass deportation flight to Jamaica that will ‘tear people away from their families’
Human rights group Liberty has described the deportation flights as ‘cruel’.
The government is being urged by MPs and campaigners to cancel a deportation flight to Jamaica scheduled for August 11, amid concerns its passengers could be children of windrush.
A deal had previously been made between the Jamaican High Commission and the Home Office in 2020, not to deport anyone who had lived in the UK since before they were 12 years old.
Human rights group Liberty has described the deportation flights as cruel and which will ‘tear people away from their families’.
A petition which has been set up urging people to take action against the Home Office’s ‘summer of racist mass deportations’ has gained over 180,000 signatures.
It states: “The Home Office has planned a summer of mass deportations by charter flight to Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Jamaica, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria.
“They have already deported 14 people of a planned 150 to Zimbabwe on 21st of July.”
It goes on to add that the Home Office is ‘planning more than one charter flight to Jamaica this year and are disproportionately targeting people from the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica, for deportations’, adding: “Most of these will be the descendants of the Windrush Generation who are still experiencing the devastating impacts of what became known as the Windrush Scandal with the vast majority of those impacting yet to receive any compensation.
“These mass deportations are racist and an abuse of human rights.”
Update 2 August 2021: See information about demonstrations against deportations to Zimbabwe here: https://statusnow4all.org/secret-deal-to-remove-zimbabweans-from-uk/
BARAC@BARACU https://twitter.com/BARACUK There is a another mass deportation flight to Jamaica on 11th August, we need your support to #stoptheplane . If you or someone you know is detained and has no legal representation pls get in touch (with BARAC) . If you may be at risk get legal advise now.
Movement for Justice @followMFJ *EMERGENCY DEMO* Jamaican High Commission – THIS WEDS 4 Aug 2pm #Stoptheplane demand JA govt REFUSES charter flights – at very least reinstate deal to exempt those who came as children! #Jamaica50 #StopCharterFlights #EndDetention #EndDeportations REPARATIONS NOT DEPORTATIONS!
Change.org: Caribbean, African, Asian people disproportionately targeted for deportations; please take action.
Dear Supporter, The Home Office plan to deport around 50 people to Jamaica on 11th August.
29 July 2021: Novara media: A Deportation Flight Just Left for Vietnam. Why Was It So Hard to Stop?
It isn’t just because everyone who would usually care is on holiday.
In the days between discovering the Home Office deportation charter flight to Vietnam and its scheduled departure time, activists mobilised rapidly.
SOAS Detainee Support (SDS) – an organisation based out of the university, which undertakes casework and direct action in aid of immigration detainees – led two Twitter storms, calling on the government to #StopThePlane. By the time the hashtag began trending on Wednesday afternoon, however, it was too late.
At 5.30pm that day, between flights to Ibiza and Tenerife, Edinburgh and Amsterdam, a TUI Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner slipped out of Birmingham Airport headed, activists suspect, for Vietnam, only the second deportation flight the Home Office has ever chartered to the country, the first being in April.
Activists – whether grassroots campaigners or immigration lawyers – rarely stop deportation flights, particularly within the hostile environment, though they can heavily mitigate their effects. Such is the Home Office’s determination to execute deportations that in October, the department spent tens of thousands of pounds to deport a single person to France, after his 29 co-passengers were removed by legal challenges.
Though a number of the roughly 22 people initially put on Wednesday’s flight list were subsequently removed from it, this wasn’t thanks to activists, but to coronavirus – an outbreak at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, where a number of the Vietnamese deportees are currently detained, left them unsafe to fly.
But while deportation charter flights are generally difficult to prevent, this one was especially so – for a number of reasons.
28 July 2021: Morning Star: Lawyers fear Britain is to deport victims of human trafficking to Vietnam
IMMIGRATION lawyers and campaigners fear that potential victims of torture and trafficking were due to be deported to Vietnam on a charter flight today.
The Morning Star understands that around 20 Vietnamese nationals were scheduled for removal at around 5.30pm from Birmingham on Wednesday on the second charter flight to the country this year.
Several people due to be onboard were removed just days prior, including potential victims of trafficking and sexual abuse, as well as a mother with young children who has been in Britain for over 15 years, campaigners told the Star.
Among those taken off the flight was a young woman who had been forced to work in Britain to pay off her father’s debt to loan sharks in Vietnam, and who feared persecution on her return.
27 July 2021: Sign the petition: BARAC@BARACUK·Take Action against the Home Office Summer of Racist Mass Deportations https://change.org/p/stop-all-charter-flight-mass-deportations-to-jamaica-other-commonwealth-countries-jamaica50/u/29387013…#enddeportations #Vietnam22 #jamaica50 #Zimbabwe150 #stoptheplane #boycottTUI #boycotthifly
BARAC@BARACUK·CALL TO ACTION – PLZ RT. We believe that at 5.30pm tomorrow @homeofficeuk and @TUIUK will deport up to 22 people from Birmingham to Vietnam. Tweet @TUIUK & tell them that this flight must not depart. #StopThePlane#TUIDropDeportations#Vietnam22
Published 26 July 2021: From the Home Office: Government strikes deal to remove more Albanian prisoners
More Albanian criminals will be removed from the UK and transferred from prisons in England and Wales after Ministers signed a new agreement today (Monday 26 July).From: Ministry of Justice
- Deal agreed to remove more Albanian offenders from the UK
- There will be no early release after transfer, as prisoners will serve their full sentence in Albania
- Removed prisoners will be barred from ever returning to UK
- Albania will pay the costs of housing prisoners transferred from Britain
The deal means more offenders can be sent back to serve their full sentence in Albania, with victims assured they will still serve the full sentence imposed on them by a British judge.
Taxpayers will no longer have to pay to accommodate these offenders, and those transferred will be barred from returning to Britain, giving further peace of mind to victims.
UK and Albanian justice Ministers, Chris Philp and Etilda Gjonaj, formally approved the Prisoner Transfer Agreement in London this morning. The agreement works both ways and includes provisions for British criminals in Albanian jails to be returned to the UK.
Albanian nationals currently represent the highest percentage of foreign nationals in custody with more than 1,500 in prison in England and Wales – around 10% of overseas criminals in jail. The UK does not collect statistics on British prisoners in overseas jails, but the number imprisoned in Albania is thought to be extremely low.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and Justice, Chris Philp, said:
We are committed to removing foreign criminals who have abused our hospitality and inflicted misery on our communities.
Someone who commits a serious crime in the UK should be barred from returning so that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for them and victims can be confident justice has been done.
Since January 2019, the Government has removed 7,985 foreign national offenders from our prisons, immigration removal centres and the community.
The deal builds on an earlier agreement and means that offenders must spend at least the same amount of time in custody as they were sentenced to by a judge in the UK.
It also clarifies that prisoners can be transferred without their consent and outlines the information that receiving states need in an application – speeding up the process.
Notes to editors:
- The Agreement must be ratified by each state. The UK does not require new legislation and the Government hopes transfers will begin from the autumn.
- The cost of removing Foreign National offenders falls to the transferring state, while the remaining period of detention falls to the receiving state.
- Offenders are barred from returning to the UK through Home Office deportation orders.
25 July 2021: Guardian: Disproportionate targeting of Jamaicans for deportation from UK, data suggests
Exclusive: FoI figures from Home Office indicate that nationals of particular countries who commit crimes appear more likely to be removed
People from Caribbean countries such as Jamaica appear to be disproportionately targeted for deportation from the UK if they commit crimes, according to Home Office data obtained by the Guardian following a yearlong freedom of information battle.
One pressure group said the high percentage of Jamaican nationals deported was particularly glaring given their greater likelihood of having family ties in the UK, and warned that it could further erode the trust of people affected by the Windrush scandal.
Nationals from Ghana and Nigeria are also removed significantly more often than the overall average, the figures show. Another set of controversial Home Office chartered deportation flights to both countries are expected next month.