Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Open letter to Sajid Javid from BAME Lawyers for Justice; Deportation Flight to Jamaica
BAME Lawyers 4 Justice.
Open letter to:
Right Honorable Sajid Javid MP
2 Marsham Street
13th February 2019
Open Letter: Deportation flight to Jamaica.
We the undersigned are writing to express our concerns about the handling of the deportation flight to Jamaica chartered by the Home Office on 6th February 2019.
There are three points that we would like to raise: -
Firstly, the misleading information given by you whereby you mentioned that all the deportees were guilty of ‘very serious crimes’ such as murder and rape. We note that Caroline Nokes, The Minister for Immigration had been recorded in Hansard on 8th February, stating the same.
We find the government’s actions, disproportionate, discriminatory and potentially illegal. Further given the scandal of Windrush we have no confidence in the government’s reassurance that fairness, justice and respect for human rights is ensured, regardless of ethnicity.
Many of those on the flight had not been convicted of rape or murder, as Home Office officials had indicated in the days leading up to the flight. In fact, we believe that the majority of those on the flight had committed neither of these two offences. One person, we know was being deported for a driving offence.
This is an important and significant issue. We believe, that as Home Secretary, you may have, knowingly or otherwise, misled the House and would invite you to urgently clarify your comments.
The second point relates to on-going legal issues surrounding Windrush.
These have not yet been resolved. Deportations to Jamaica should not be resumed until there is more clarity around this. It is not entirely clear exactly who qualifies for British citizenship under Windrush.
Some of those forced onto the plane had made applications under the Windrush scheme, and they had not yet received a response.
If the final decision on their application is that they are entitled to British citizenship, then they will have been unlawfully deported.
The plight of commonwealth soldiers is also akin to Windrush and they should also be considered.
The third point relates to the right to family life under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and to the recommendations made by Stephen Shaw in his review of immigration detention commissioned by the Home Office and published in July 2018.
Shaw, who is an independent and highly respected individual, argued forcefully that foreign national offenders, who have been in the UK since childhood should not be removed to a country, they have barely or never set foot in.
We understand that the Home Office has not responded to this key recommendation in the Shaw report.
Government states that its hands are tied and that it has no choice but to implement the UK Borders Act 2007 brought in under a Labour government, which states that any foreign national offender who serves more than a 12 month sentence should be deported.
However, this interpretation is not correct. The government has the flexibility to place greater emphasis on the right of foreign national offenders, to family and private life but sadly, it chooses not to exercise this discretion.
At the time that Shaw’s report was published last July he said: “There is a section in my report about ex-offenders who are more British than foreign, who have been brought up in this country ... I argue that we are not talking about their return but their expulsion.”
This week he branded the charter flight to Jamaica as ‘very cruel’.
Hundreds of thousands of people, right across the country have signed, numerous individual petitions calling on the government to stop these deportations, and ensure transparency, equality and fairness are central to all decisions made in relation to determining the immigration status of these individuals.
We call upon the Home Secretary, to do the right thing, and place an immediate moratorium on all future deportations, until such time that public trust and confidence in the British immigration system can be restored.
We urgently require a response to the very significant concerns outlined in this letter.
Peter Herbert O.B.E (Chair of Society of Black Lawyers)
Marcia Willis Stewart QC (Hons) Solicitor
Cllr Anna Rothery (Mayoral Lead Equality & Race Equality, Liverpool)
Councilor Patsy Cummings (London Borough of Croydon)
Jacqueline McKenzie (Immigration & Asylum Lawyer/Windrush Action)
Euen Herbert-Small No Dogs No Black No Irish.
Zita Holbourne (Co- Founder of BARAC UK)
Patrick Vernon OBE Patron of Sante (refugee and asylum social enterprise)
Irene Nembhard solicitor Birnberg Peirce
Rev Desmond Jadoo, Windrush Movement UK Birmingham
Councillor Amanda Pinnock - Kirklees Council
David Weaver, Board member Operation Black Vote
Connie Sozi (Lawyer)
Shivani Jegarjah (Lawyer) Justilla Chambers
BAME officer Leeds NE CLP
Racial Justice Network (RJN) and Yorkshire Resist
Thaila Maragh (Barrister)
Attiq Malik (Lawyer)
Elwaldo Romeo Chair Windrush Action
Pastor Clive Foster (Nottinghamshire Windrush Support Forum)
Anthony Brown (Windrush Crusade Manchester)
Liverpool Labour Black Network