Sat | Aug 17, 2019

UK allowed to dictate terms of deportees’ return, says immigration attorney

Published:Tuesday | February 5, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Immigration lawyer Jennifer Housen.

Well-known immigration and human-rights attorney Jennifer Housen has criticised the Government for accepting a planeload of 50 Jamaicans, who are to be deported from the United Kingdom tomorrow, and for its silence on the matter.

“The Jamaican Government is too silent in matters of extraordinary human-rights violations. The Government does not have the moral authority to speak to any human-rights violations when we are actually acquiescing in these kinds of returns, which are clear human-rights violations in themselves,” she said.

Many of the people who are being deported have no family ties to Jamaica, having left the country as babies, in most instances with their parents. However, all of those set to be removed on the flight have criminal convictions and have served their sentences in UK jails, and will now have to live in a country they know little, if anything, about, a point Housen argues is a breach of their human rights.

She said that it was unfortunate the UK government has apparently restarted what is termed ‘Operation Waldrop’, a scheme for deportation of people with Jamaican ancestry back to the island at a time when the Windrush scandal is still fresh in the minds of the public both in Britain and Jamaica.

“The first thing that I think people need to grasp from this is that none of these people have actually been to Jamaica from as young as three or four years old. How then can the UK government and their Jamaican counterparts agree to send, in their case, and to accept, in our case, people who have no serious family links here anymore?” the attorney asked.

She noted that she was aware of at least two people aboard the flight who are to be appearing in an inquest next month for a death in immigration detention, where the Home Office has helped persons.

“There are various people on the flight who Jamaica to them is not home; they have made England home, and they have grown up there. Now, why are those two persons being sent here; what’s the rush.

The last charter flight to Jamaica was in March 2017. At the time, more than 100 people arrived in the country, many without family ties. British media reported that another flight was scheduled to leave the UK last April, days after the Windrush scandal broke, with a 63-year-old grandmother among the deportees, but it was cancelled for reasons the Home Office didn’t disclose.

Outspoken UK Member of Parliament Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary, said, “The Tories’ hostile environment policies continue to split up families, with the use of these brutal chartered flight deportations.

“We need full transparency. We should not deport our own citizens or deny their rights.”

The report noted the story of 23-year-old Divonte Demetri Fyffe, who has been in Britain since he was three. He committed a drug offence at the age of 18 for which he served a two-year sentence, and on his release was told he no longer had a right to remain in the UK.

“I’m in shock at the moment. I’m scared. I don’t know anyone in Jamaica. Who will I stay with? How will I get income? I made a stupid mistake when I was 18. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in the wrong crowd. I did my jail time. I stopped hanging around with those people. I haven’t reoffended. I wanted to make a change.

“But I was told I couldn’t work or study, and now this is happening. I made one mistake and I’m still paying for it,” Fyffe has said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com