British High Commissioner responds to mass deportation from UK
KINGSTON, Jamaica — British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton, is this afternoon responding to Jamaica Observer reports that an unconfirmed number of Jamaicans will reportedly return to the island next Wednesday on a deportation charter flight from the United Kingdom (UK).
The report, which was originally carried by OBSERVER ONLINE, before being printed with the headline 'Another mass deportation from UK', stated that the move has drawn harsh criticisms from an immigration and asylum support organisation operating in that country.
The organisation, The Unity Centre, in an online post last Monday, described the planned charter flight with deportees as “modern slavery”, stating that detainees are speaking out against the upcoming flight. It also described the flight as becoming a part of the regular practice of removing people en masse on privately chartered “ghost flights” by the UK Home Office.
The Unity Centre claimed that this was the second such flight to Jamaica since 2014, as in September of last year 42 people were deported from the UK, and took objection to the 'forcible' removal of people.
However, High Commissioner Fitton has said that the Observer story was misleading.
Below is his reponse in full:
I found your article of 3 March on returnees misleading (“Another mass deportation flight expected from the UK...”).
The UK government always encourages voluntary departure for those who have no legal basis to remain in the UK. If they do not wish to leave voluntarily, then we need to make other arrangements.
Every case is carefully considered on its individual merits and all decisions are taken in accordance with the law.
Of those returned, some are people who have committed crimes in the UK and served their sentences in prison. Others are immigration offenders who no longer have a valid reason to stay. All are Jamaican nationals.
We work closely with the Jamaican authorities to help them re-settle. Since 2008, the UK has invested around £5 million in resettlement projects alone in Jamaica, working with both Government and non-governmental organisations to develop support services to reintegrate and rehabilitate those who return.