A quiet deal has reportedly been struck between the Home Office and Jamaica not to remove nationals who came to the United Kingdom as children, as the time draws close for up to 50 Jamaicans to be deported on a charter flight on Wednesday (December 2).
Even though there has been no official confirmation from the Home Office, Jamaican High Commissioner to the UK, Seth Ramocan told The Guardian that both Jamaica and the Home Office have agreed not to deport Jamaicans, who came to the UK under the age of 12.
When contacted, the Home Office declined to comment and there has been no public announcement about the quiet deal being struck.
However, the new deportation protocol follows diplomatic overtures to the Home Office and mounting public pressure by many groups in Britain not to deport the Jamaicans.
High Commissioner Ramocan stated that his office had made representations ahead of this Wednesday‘s charter flight to deport the Jamaicans pointing out that an agreement had been reached not to deport those who arrived as young children.
‘New deal not law but an understanding‘
According to the Jamaican High Commissioner to the UK, the deal is not law but a kind of understanding between Jamaica and the Home Office.
He added, “They (Home Office) have consented to having an age limit. It isn’t that the law has changed in any way. It’s a consideration, a request that has been granted. We really appreciate the level of cooperation and consideration given to the representations we made to the Home Office.”
An analysis done on the background of the charter flight deportees showed that most of them came to the UK as children and have lived there for many years.
Karen Doyle from the campaign group, Movement For Justice carried out a sample of 20 of the individuals slated for deportation, pointing out that none arrived in the UK before the age of 12.
Referring to the deal, Doyle remarked that it is a welcome change and something that her group has been fighting for many years. According to her, the secrecy around it is disturbing contending that a backroom deal just for this flight is not acceptable.”
The change must apply to all those who came as children regardless of their country of origin, “Doyle contended.
Questions about secrecy of the deal
Bella Sankey, Director of the lobby group, Detention Action also weighed in on the news of the quiet deed. She stated, “If true, this agreement marks progress in reforming our barbaric deportation system, but why the secrecy?”
She argued that if the deal is to be effective, “this rule must be written into the law so that it can provide protection in practice and should be applied equally to all who arrive in the UK under 18, wherever they may have arrived from.”
News of the deal preceded much public pressure with the latest coming from 82 black public figures including author, Bernardine Evaristo, international model, Naomi Campbell and historian, David Olusoga urging airlines not to transport the Jamaicans being deported by the Home Office on a charter flight this Wednesday.
Home Office charter flights are a common way to deport people from the UK, who are classed as having no right to remain in the country, due to certain serious criminal convictions.
The Kingston-bound flight will be the second deportation operation to Jamaica this year. The last chartered flight to leave for Jamaica in February this year drew concerns from English lawyers after it was revealed that mobile phone outages had prevented deportees from accessing legal advice.
Deportation charter flights to Jamaica are particularly controversial because of the Windrush scandal and the fact that some of those earmarked for deportation came to the UK as children and had families there.
In 2018, a Home Office-commissioned report called for a new approach to the policy of detaining and removing people who had committed crimes but lived most of their lives in the UK.
The Home Office has not implemented the recommendation contained in the report carried out by former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Stephen Shaw.