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Jamaica-bound flight for deportees leaves UK tomorrow

A SPECIAL charter flight with over 60 passengers is expected to depart the UK on tomorrow morning (Sept 7) bound for Jamaica.

On board will be Jamaicans who have been deported from the UK for a range of reasons, including over stayers and even people who have lived in the UK for many years but did not regularise their immigration status.

The UK regularly arranges these special charter flights with deportees from the UK but it is the first time the flight will be a full one.

According to The Unity Centre, a pressure group based in Glasgow which monitors deportations, the Home Office regularly books secret charter flights to deport people to countries including Nigeria and Pakistan, but this is the first charter flight to Jamaica since 2014.

Many of those being deported have spent their formative years in the UK and have British families.

The mass deportation has whipped up support from other groups and a protest demonstration was organised outside the Jamaican High Commission today (Sept 6).

Luke De-Noronha, a researcher at The Unity Centre, said in most cases people are unable to properly challenge their deportation because they cannot afford to pay for legal advice.

People are notified that they will be on these planes with just days to go with no time available to contest the decision.

“The problem with the charter flight is that the Home Office will sweep up people in one go and arrest them when they sign in at their Home Office reporting centres. If they have immigration issues they will be served with deportations papers and also foreclose a lot of the forms of appeal and it is happening en mas. What the Home Office does is hire a private plane and they want to fill that plane with as much deportees as possible. If it is only 20 people onboard, it would not be cost effective.

“The concern of everyone is that those affected will not have proper access to justice and the Home office has denied that right to appeal and sweep up as many people as possible without any warning, so that is what is different about a charter as opposed to a regular deportations using schedule flights like Virgin Atlantic,” De-Noroha said.

According to a report published by the liberty group, Open Democracy UK, many people booked for deportation on Wednesday are victims of a joint initiative between the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police and involve the arbitrary deportation of foreign nationals, including people without criminal convictions. The police and Home Office officials share speculative evidence to build a case for deportation. This includes people who may have been accused of a crime and found not guilty.

The report goes on to say that those booked on Wednesday’s flight cannot appeal their deportation while they are in the UK.

If someone wants to appeal on human rights grounds, they have to do so from the country they are deported to.

An exception is made for people facing “serious irreversible harm” in their country of origin, but most people fearing serious irreversible harm claim asylum.

In doing so, in the run up to deportation is usually considered an attempt to “frustrate” removal, which the Home Office can use as a reason to remove appeal rights, meaning the asylum claim must be dealt with outside the country.

A spokesperson at the Jamaica High Commission said they heard about the planned protest but had no comment on the matter.

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