Human rights lawyers call for an end to “barbaric practice”
The grim realities of UK deportations were exposed at a recent Community Question Time as human rights lawyers explained how Black families in particular are being broken up and community members are being forced back to their places of origin.
Late last year it was reported that 50 Jamaican Nationals, almost all of whom had children, were forcibly removed from the UK and sent back to Jamaica.
Many had lived in Britain for over 10 years with some having left Jamaica as small children or babies. Human rights lawyer, Hilary Brown argues that meagre crimes and administration errors are being used to deprive people of their human right to family.
Article 8 of the human rights act states that each citizen has the right to a private and family life. However, Ms Brown explained that this is considered a “qualified” right, meaning it can be denied. Only Articles 2 (The right to life) and 3 (the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment) are absolute rights.
“We have to fight for the majority of our human rights in Britain,” she explained.
Ms Brown described the practice of deportation as “barbaric” and said it was critical to raise public awareness of the impact it has on both individuals and families.
“To deport someone on the basis of a fight they’ve been involved in or paperwork their parents may not have completed when they were children back to a country they may be completely unfamiliar with is deeply unjust and unfair.”
Those who do commit crimes she argued should be considered the UK’s responsibility if they had resided in the country from an early age.
“When a person is expelled in such cases, the UK is passing them onto a country which is less equipped to deal with a problem that was created here.”
People from African and Caribbean backgrounds are twice as likely to be deported from the UK due to criminal convictions.
While Government sources have asserted Britain’s right to deport criminals – the panellists were keen to assert that not all deportees were guilty of criminal offences.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, human rights campaigner Zita Holbourne reported an incident, which saw a person deported after their British born partner died. The individual was in the process of naturalisation but as a result of the partner’s death, their application was withdrawn. As they were deported, they have lost their right to appeal or reapply for a stay in the United Kingdom.
Vendrys Henry, a lawyer specialising in deportation cases explained that the absence of legal aid makes it very difficult for targeted immigrants to get the support they need in order to challenge deportations.
“Many of us are just surviving, so the reality of spending thousands and thousands on legal representation is far beyond most people.”
With anti-immigrant sentiment rising, the panel discussed the Governments increasingly stringent attitude towards deportation.
“To get a stay in this country – you must be able to prove that you’re being deported would cause irreversible harm to your children and dependents.” he said.
Even then, Mr Henry explained the Government would expect dependents to follow the deportee out of the country. If this is not possible the home Office advises people to conduct their family relationships by telephone, email or other long distance communication methods.
Solutions to this on-going issue were also discussed with panel members and attendees alike calling for increased pressure to be placed on the Jamaican Government in particular to ensure the rights of it’s citizens are fully protected.
The importance of abiding by the law was also highlighted with panellists warning that the Government had shown a willingness to seize upon any unlawful offences.
The event was hosted by the European Regional representative of the honourable minister Louis Farrakhan and the nation of Islam, Minister Hilary Muhammad who called on the community to begin make preparations for a future beyond the UK and Europe.
“Make no mistake we are living in Babylon and the scripture does say come out of her my people and be not partakers in her sins and plagues,” he said.
“We are a special people to have survived here but we must agree on the next stage.”
“We should have the ability to go and come between here and wherever we choose in the Caribbean or Africa – we must not be stuck on this rock (the UK)”
The key to our future he explained was unity across the diaspora.
“As we begin laying down roots in different places, we will find we have much in common and can begin to build affinity between ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Africa and the Caribbean.”