Last Tuesday, an unknown number of detainees were placed on a flight and deported to Jamaica. This action of the Home Office has sparked an outrage among members of the public.
Just one day before the deportations took place, on the 10th of February, a Court of Appeal judge ruled that the Home Office should halt any deportations. Despite the Home Office’s attempts to overturn the court’s ruling hours before the flight and having had their application rejected shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, the flight still took off with the detainees.
The ruling of the Court left Bella Sankey, director of Charity Detention Actions, ‘delighted’ as she believed that none of the 56 detainees could now be removed. This has evidently not been the case.
Despite the Home Office labelling these detainees ‘serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders’, this is actually not the case. The Home Office’s words are nothing but blanket statements. The explanation does not apply to all the detainees, yet it has been used to shield the department from public scrutiny and backlash.
Amongst the detainees is Reshawn Davis, 30, who has been in this country since the age of 11. He was convicted of robbery 10 years ago under a now unlawful rule of joint enterprise. Reshawn Davis only spent two months in prison. Another case is that of Tayjay, a 24-year-old who had been in the UK since he was 5. A young man who had only visited Jamaica once before.
The labelling of these citizens as violent when the true nature of all 56 detainees’ crimes has not been disclosed to the public, suggests that the Home Office is not against deception in order to carry out its unlawful plans. The additional labelling of the detainees as ‘foreign nationals’ neglects the fact that many of them are more British than they are Jamaican.
Among the detainees, one was born in this country to a Windrush generation mother. Six had Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK, and many others were eligible for British citizenship as children if they could only have afforded it. Many of these detainees are not foreign nationals but British subjects. They have a place in this country and their deportation to a country that is no longer their home is a violation of their human rights.
The general public are being misled. In a BBC Radio 5 Live, Sajid Javid claimed the detainees were all responsible for crimes that included, ‘manslaughter, rape,[and] dealing in class A drugs’. This is a terrible generalisation and certainly not the reality of many of the detainees on that flight.
The ruling against the detainees deportation on Tuesday came after it was found that there were problems with the 02 phone network. This meant that many detainees were unable to exercise their legal right and contact their lawyers.
The Home Office undeniably lacks transparency, and arguably decency. It has behaved unlawfully and contrary to the rulings of the Court of Appeal. The Conservative government has failed to take note following the Windrush Scandal — because it does not want to. This complete disregard for human life has been described as an act of protection, for the benefit of the British population. What about protecting the 41 British children whose fathers are amongst the detainees? These children will be forced to grow up without a parent.
There is also a lack of consistency in the Home Office’s words. Why do they only seem to care about protecting one set of British citizens and not the other?
It is sad to admit this, but two years following the Windrush Scandal and the Conservative government has shown that it still does not care about the lives of its Black citizens.