LONDON, England, November 3, 2021 - Opponents of yet another British Home Office deportation flight involving Jamaicans nationals are appealing to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness to block a chartered flight destined for Jamaica next week which is expected to ferry several deportees to the country.
Morning Star newspaper, “about 20 Jamaican nationals have been rounded up and detained in recent weeks in preparation for a deportation flight on November 11.According to Britain’s
Anti-racism activist Zita Holbourne, a leading figure in the campaign to stop deportations, told the Morning Star: “They are contributing to the climate crisis in that way because the emissions of such a huge plane are being used to fly just a handful of people.”
Holbourne, who is also national chair of anti-racism campaign group BARAC UK, said: “The Jamaica prime minister is speaking this afternoon at COP26, presumably on what Jamaica will do to address climate change and the impact that this has on the country; this is hypocritical when at the same time he is allowing these planes to land with a handful of people onboard.
“Climate change impacts the global south disproportionately, including the Caribbean region, while aviation contributes to four per cent of carbon emissions.”
It comes after it emerged that the British Government plans to threaten to stop granting visas to citizens of countries that are “not cooperating” with attempted deportations from the UK, as outlined in proposals to the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill.
Protestors have urged prime minister Andrew Holness not to collaborate with Home Office removal operations pointing to the environmental as well as human cost of deportations, and urged him not to collaborate with Home Office removal operations.
The charter plane, scheduled to leave the UK on 10 November, is expected to have up to 50 people on board. Among those served removal directions is a man with learning disabilities who has been in the UK since he was three months old.
The group, Movement for Justice, said that of the 11 detainees it had spoken to, eight came to Britain as children. Among them is Akeem Finlay, 31, who arrived at the age of 10 and has been subjected to five Home Office attempts to deport him.
The most recent was in August, after he was convicted in 2011 of causing grievous bodily harm. The 31-year-old, who was interviewed by the Morning Star last summer, maintains that his life would be in danger in Jamaica, a country he fled after being stabbed by a gang at the age of nine. The same gang recently killed his cousin and threatened other family members.
Nonetheless, Mr Finlay was detained again last Friday after the Home Office refused his claim for asylum. “It’s like they want me to go back to Jamaica to prove my life was in danger,” Mr Finlay told the Morning Star by phone from Colnbrook immigration detention centre.
This month’s charter flight is the Home Office’s third attempt in the past 12 months to deport dozens of Jamaican nationals, with officials claiming that those booked on the flight have committed serious and violent crimes.
But previous flights have shown that many men earmarked for deportation have been convicted of one-off drug offences and some have been victims of trafficking.
An emergency protest against the flight will take place outside the Jamaican high commission in Kensington, central London, on Thursday.
Campaigners are urging the government to halt an upcoming deportation flight to Jamaica, describing it as “racist political theatre” and warning many of those set to be on board are “thoroughly British”. Another has four young British children and has lived in the UK since he was 10.
The group has accused ministers of trying to deport people who are “thoroughly British” and have been “failed” by the UK. One man facing removal, who cannot be named to protect his identity, has lived in the UK since he was just three months old. A psychiatric report written in August 2021 states that he has ADHD and Tourette syndrome.
The Home Office plans to deport the 23-year-old on the basis that he was found possessing a firearm in 2016, for which he served a two-year sentence. The psychiatric report states that at the time he was a “highly vulnerable teenager” who was “used as a carrier of weapons” by criminal gangs.
Speaking from immigration detention, the young man, who spent part of his adolescence in care, told The Independent: “They’re trying to remove me for a mistake I made when I was a teenager. I was around older guys who were influencing me. I was young and dumb.
“It’s been five years now since I served my sentence. I have changed. I’ve moved away from that kind of thing. But I haven’t been given a second chance in my adult life to turn things around. I don’t know anyone in Jamaica. I will probably die if I get sent there.”
Secretary Frances O’Grady said the flight should be called off, adding: “There have been far too many miscarriages of justice in the immigration system. All deportation flights should be suspended while the Home Office addresses its failures to adequately check the circumstances of those targeted for deportation.”TUC General
Some 140 Jamaicans with criminal convictions were deported across six flights between 2016 and 2021, according to Home Office statistics.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Independent that it did not comment on operational matters, but added: “The public rightly expects we remove dangerous criminals and those with no right to be here, which is why we regularly operate flights to different countries.
“All those removed will have had their cases fully reviewed to ensure there are no outstanding legal barriers, including modern slavery and trafficking claims, that would prevent their removal from the UK.”