Dozens of Jamaicans are set to be deported back to the island on the first charter flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal erupted in 2018.
Around 50 people are set to board a charter flight and fly back to the island within the week, in what campaigners are calling “a slap in the face” for the Jamaican diaspora living in the United Kingdom. What is now known as the “Windrush scandal” saw British-Caribbean nationals (many of whom are connected to the Windrush Generation and have lived in the UK since they were children), being wrongfully detained and deported in April 2018.
A number of men currently detained at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Britain told The Independent Newspaper in London that they had been told by the staff at the Centre that they will be placed on a flight to Jamaica on February 6. A Home Office spokesperson confirmed that a charter flight would be departing “in the coming weeks.”
All of whom are set to be deported are said to have criminal convictions, but have served their sentences in UK prisons. Campaigners argue that their removal constitutes a “brutal double punishment”.
Public Outrage and Planned Protest
The news of the removal of British-Caribbean nationals has been met with public outrage. Citizens have voiced that it is unfair to for these Jamaicans to be wrongfully detained and deported as many of them have lived in the UK for decades, and have British families. The detainees complained that they were also given very little time to prepare legal defenses.
Campaigners and family members of those being deported are set to protest outside of the Jamaica High Commission on Monday, February 4, because they say that the Jamaican government can refuse to comply in the plans to remove up to 50 people on the deportation flight this week.
Campaigner Karen Doyle, National Organiser of the Movement for Justice which has been in touch with two dozen people set to be deported this week said: “trying to restart mass deportations to Jamaica whilst the Windrush generation have yet to receive a penny, and many are still waiting months later for decisions, is a slap in the face for the Jamaican diaspora community in the UK.”
“These people are being subject to brutal double punishment, many for crimes that the British public would not consider ‘serious’, drunken fights and driving offenses. The punishment is a death sentence for those with no family connections in Jamaica and no money… Most of the people due to be on this charter flight have no one to support them and nowhere to go.”
Who is the Windrush Generation?
These are people who went to Britain after World War II on the ship “Empire Windrush”, that carried hundreds of Caribbean immigrants to Britain in 1948. However, despite living and working in the UK for decades, thousands of people who arrived in the country as children during that time are being threatened with deportation.
Jamaica’s Response to the Windrush Scandal
Following the scandal last year, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness met with British Prime Minister Theresa May in April to address the Windrush issue. He stressed the importance of protecting the rights of the Caribbean migrants as well as compensation to the affected persons.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said that her ministry was also working tirelessly with the Jamaican High Commission in London to guide nationals on how to pursue their claims to British citizenship and compensation.
The Jamaican government has yet to respond to the charter flights that are scheduled for this week.