Activists, Black celebrities call on UK to halt deportation plane | Jamaica

London, United Kingdom – The British government is under increasing pressure to stop a planned deportation flight to Jamaica with up to 50 people, which would separate 31 children from their fathers.

While activists and activists appeal to the Home Office to stop the plane on December 2nd, 82 black British personalities, including model Naomi Campbell, historian David Olusoga, actresses Thandie Newton and Naomie Harris, and writer Bernardine Evaristo, urge the airlines to call on the airlines who previously allowed such charter flights to refuse any assistance.

The problem has also been announced regularly on Twitter since the flight was announced earlier this week under the hashtag #stoptheplane.

The flight to Kingston will be the second deportation operation to Jamaica this year.

According to the Interior Ministry, the flight will deport “convicted murderers and rapists”.

Under UK law, an alien convicted of a crime and given a prison sentence of 12 months or more may be eligible for deportation.

However, Jacqueline Mckenzie, human rights attorney and director of the Center for Migration Advice and Research, said the 12-month deadline was wrongly targeted at those responsible for less serious crimes, such as a young man she represented and the im February 2019 deported to Jamaica was 14 months imprisonment for driving offenses.

“The majority of the people on the list are on the list of drug offenses,” she told Al Jazeera.

“If you were in the UK as a child, no matter what your crime is, you shouldn’t be deported.

“Whether or not you have the right documentation, you are culturally British, you are part of this society. You have insulted here, you are punished here, and your punishment will go to jail. People shouldn’t be punished twice. “

Meanwhile, there have been growing concerns about the effects of family separation.

According to the civil rights and migrant rights group Movement for Justice, eight of the men about to be deported have 31 children, ages three to 18.

Although the Home Office has declared that none of the deportees are eligible for the Windrush program, Zita Holbourne, co-founder of the anti-racist organization Black Activists Against Rising Cuts, said that many inmates had a direct link to the Windrush generation through their parents or through their parents Grandparents.

“It’s like an extension of the Windrush scandal. They are now punishing their children and grandchildren, ”she said.

The Windrush Program enables Commonwealth citizens who settled in the UK prior to January 1, 1973 and who do not have any supporting documentation to obtain proof of their UK citizenship free of charge.

The last charter flight to Jamaica in February of this year was a cause of concern among lawyers after it was discovered that cell phone failures had prevented deportees from seeking legal advice.

In this case, a last-minute court ruling granted 25 people a stay while 17 more were removed.

Holbourne claimed that inmates at the Colnbrook Detention Center in Middlesex, who are expected to fly on December 2nd, face similar challenges.

“The computer room is closed as a COVID-19 measure. But in the computer room you can email, print, prepare your case, find a lawyer, and contact your lawyer, ”she said.

“That actually prevents access to justice. And families are not allowed to visit detention centers, which means they cannot say goodbye, which adds to this trauma and hardship. “

As the UK grapples with a second wave of coronavirus disease, the Home Office says it is taking “sensible precautions regarding COVID-19 and immigrant detention” to protect employees and detainees.

However, Mckenzie and Holbourne raised concerns about the implementation of social distancing measures in detention centers, on the way to the airport and on the flight itself.

“When you get to the plane you will be handcuffed from the waist down and handcuffed to two guards on either side,” said Holbourne. “[The Home Office] says they aim for up to 50 [deportees]. Up to 50 [people] with two extra guards is 150 which is a full plane so it doesn’t become socially distant. “

The announcement follows a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) earlier this week criticizing the Interior Ministry for violating gender equality legislation with its hostile environmental policies.

EHRC said the Windrush scandal, which unjustly deported British citizens invited to Britain from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971, was a “shameful stain in British history,” adding “a negative impact on equality. .. were repeatedly ignored, rejected or theirs. ” Severity not considered ”.

According to the government, more than 6,400 “foreign offenders” have been removed since January 2019.

Since April, more than 30 charter flights have been carried out to countries such as Albania, France, Germany, Ghana, Lithuania, Nigeria, Poland and Spain.

In response to criticism of the planned deportation, the Ministry of the Interior replied: “We do not apologize for trying to remove dangerous foreign criminals in order to protect the public.”

Halima Begum, director of the Runnymede Trust think tank on racial equality, said the proposed operation was a “fundamental violation of human rights” based on then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s “hostile environmental policy” in 2012.

Back when she launched politics, May said, “The aim is to create a really hostile environment here in Britain for illegal immigrants.”

“If this situation tells us one thing,” added Begum, “then the British government has not learned from its negligence on Windrush and hostile environmental policies.”