The Guardian quotes Jamaica’s High Commissioner to London, Seth Ramocan as saying that “following diplomatic overtures to the Home Office, officials agreed not to deport Jamaicans who came to Britain under the age of 12.”
“It’s not law, it’s a kind of understanding,” he said. “They have consented to having an age limit. It isn’t that the law has changed in any way. It’s a consideration, a request that has been granted. We really appreciate the level of cooperation and consideration given to the representations we made to the Home Office,” Ramocan told the Guardian.
The deal comes against the background of protests from some “ 82 black public figures – including the author Bernardine Evaristo, model Naomi Campbell and historian David Olusoga –[who] urged airlines not to carry up to 50 Jamaicans on the Home Office deportation flight scheduled for Wednesday,” the report said.
Charter flights to Jamaica are particularly controversial because of the Windrush scandal where some persons marked for deportation emigrated to their families in the UK as children, and have been returned to their birth country with which many have no family connection.
The Home Office has been using charter flights to send home persons whom it says have no right to remain in the UK due to their having run afoul of the law and have attracted serious criminal convictions. The last charter flight to Jamaica was in February.
However, the report quotes Karen Doyle of the group “group Movement For Justice” as saying that a sample those due to fly to Jamaica on Wednesday, reveals that none arrived in the UK before the age of 12.
Doyle said: “With previous flights the proportion who arrived here as children was always much higher. This is a welcome change and something that has been fought for for many years. But the secrecy around it is disturbing. A backroom deal just for this flight is not acceptable. The change must apply to all those who came as children regardless of their country of origin.”
According to the Guardian, “the Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said “it shouldn’t take the Jamaican government to force the Home Office” to act. “This sort of deal-making behind closed doors is no way to make policy on such an important issue,” he said.
Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, said: “If true, this agreement marks progress in reforming our barbaric deportation system, but why the secrecy? To be effective, this rule must be written into the law so that it can provide protection in practice and should be applied equally to all who arrive in the UK under 18, wherever they may have arrived from.”
- Countries: Jamaica
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