13 deportees arrive from UK
Served more than 100 years combined in prison for murder, manslaughter, drugs and robberyThursday, December 03, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) yesterday ignored calls for clemency and deported 13 Jamaicans who it said had combined jail terms of more than 100 years, including three convicted of murder, another of manslaughter, while others had been sentenced for crimes including drug dealing, burglary and robbery.
The British Government also indicated that at least nine Jamaicans – including one convicted of murder and another convicted of rape – did not board the plane after interventions by their legal teams. The last-minute reprieves were said to be granted after the British Home Office admitted they may be victims of modern-day slavery.
“Obviously it is disappointing that late legal tactics stopped us removing a number of other criminals on this flight,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying. “We have been clear that we are determined to remove serious foreign criminals who have committed offences in the UK, and we obviously make no apologies for that.”
He was supported by Immigration Minister Chris Philp who expressed disappointment that “specialist immigration law firms continued to use last-minute tactics to remove a significant number of offenders from this flight”.
Initial reports had suggested that as many as 50 Jamaicans would be deported on the flight which arrived in Kingston early yesterday morning. That was then whittled down to 36 after a deal was struck between the British and Jamaican officials that nobody who arrived in the United Kingdom under the age of 12 would be deported.
The final list of 13 was arrived at Tuesday night after a number of last-minute legal challenges were launched by human rights lawyers and campaign groups.
“These individuals had every opportunity to raise the claims in the days and weeks leading up to the flight; however, a significant number of claims were not submitted until hours before the flight was due to leave — meaning murderers and rapists have been able to stay in the UK,” declared Philp who argued that the people the British Government were attempting to remove from the country had committed crimes which have had a devastating impact on victims and their families.
“We will be working through these cases as quickly as possible. I remain committed to removing foreign criminals and anyone without a legal basis to be here to keep the British public safe, which will always be my number one priority,” added Philp.
The 13 men who arrived in the island before 8:00 am yesterday were processed and tested for COVID-19. They are being held in a government facility until their test results are available.
Those who test negative will be allowed to join their families to spend 14 days in quarantine while those who return positive tests will be kept in a state facility.
Government officials yesterday told the Jamaica Observer that all 13 deportees indicated that they have family members who would accept them on their release.
In the meantime, the British Government has scoffed at claims that it was uncaring as it had deported the men with no concern as to how they would survive away from immediate family members who remain in the UK.
Responding to questions from the Observer, the British High Commission pointed to a fact sheet prepared by its Home Office in which it outlined the support available to the deportees.
“The Home Office supports two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Jamaica who provide reintegration support to those who are deported,” said the fact sheet.
“They can provide initial support to those who may not have anyone to meet them at the airport or who need transport. They are also able to help with short-term accommodation for those without a place to stay.
“In the longer term they can provide training, including recognised qualifications, to enable them to find employment and help with obtaining documentation. They can also provide emotional and well-being support to those who need it,” added the Home Office.
It further pointed out that in the year ending June 2019 there were 7,895 deportations, of which 3,498 were to European Union (EU) countries and 55 were to Jamaica. Meanwhile, for the year ending June 2020 there were 5,208 deportations, of which 2,630 were to EU countries and 33 were to Jamaica, said the Home Office.