Use of charter flights for mass expulsions from UK, December 2012 – April 2013
(Click on the table to get a better view)
The Home Office used 18 charter flights for deportations* in the 4 months from December 2012 to April 2013, a freedom of information request has revealed.
A total of 972 people were removed from the UK on these flights, including 73 women.
An alarmingly high number of Pakistani Nationals are being issued with Removal Directions (RDs) for charter flights, although over half of these tickets are canceled before departure. For example, 198 RDs were issued for a deportation to Pakistan on 26th March 2013, of which 85 went on the flight. It would be interesting to hear more from lawyers about the pressure that this volume of case-work creates…
Charter flights went to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on a monthly basis.
There were less frequent flights to Kosovo, Albania, Ghana and Sri Lanka in this period.
A plane was chartered to remove just one man to Portugal, on 14th December 2012.
The controversial flight to Sri Lanka, on 28th February 2013, went ahead with just 13 people onboard (out of a planned 123).
The Home Office continues to name their mass deportations to Nigeria as “Operation Majestic”.
The UK took part in one mass deportation with Frontex, the joint EU border agency, in this period. (The flight was to Nigeria on 24th January 2013). There was a bilateral flight through Rome to Nigeria on 11th April 2013.
The Home Office allocated “reserve” deportees for a third of charter flights in this period, despite repeated criticism from campaigners, as well as Keith Vaz (Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee) and the Prison Inspector (who has called this practice “inhumane”).
Mass deportation “charter flights” have been used by the Home Office since 2001. These deportations are in addition to the majority of forced removals from the UK which take place on board scheduled commercial flights.
The exact data period covered by this Freedom of Information request was 12th December 2012 to 24th April 2013.
The UK Border Agency is currently being re-branded as two directorates of the Home Office: “Visas and Immigration” and “Immigration Law Enforcement”.
*I use the words ‘deportation’ and ‘removal’ interchangeably (despite their distinct legal definitions), because the Freedom of Information data captures people in both categories.