New briefing on mass deportation charter flights available online

New briefing on mass deportation charter flights available online

Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation have released a new briefing on deportations, focusing on the Home Office’s use of charter flights. The 48-page briefing, entitled Collective Expulsion: The Case Aginst Britain’s Mass Deportation Charter Flights can be downloaded here, or you can buy a hard copy from the Corporate Watch online shop.

You can read a review of our report on the Pluto Press blog here, as well as a photo-essay of a recent mass deportation charter flight for more information on the topic.


This report examines the British state’s most secretive and draconian immigration controls: mass deportation charter flights. The policy has existed in the shadows for over a decade, evading popular criticism and any meaningful review. Away from the public gaze, using specially chartered aircraft, the immigration authorities try to get rid of as many unwanted migrants as possible.

Indeed, these mass deportation charter flights are becoming the standard method of conducting enforced deportations to a growing list of destination countries. There is now at least one flight a week to ‘popular destinations’, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, which are often closely linked to the UK’s most controversial foreign policy adventures. Yet, the programme was, and is still being, sold to the public on the basis of unfounded myths and outright lies, which have gone unchallenged for far too long.

The UK Home Office has used specially chartered flights to deport rejected refugees and migrants en masse for 12 years now. The policy was introduced in 2001 ostensibly to save ‘taxpayers money’ and effect high ‘volume removals’ of people who refuse to ‘cooperate’ with the immigration authorities. Officials have also claimed the programme was designed to send a clear message, both to the British public and to migrant communities, that the UK is serious about enforcing its ‘tough’ immigration policy.

This report examines in detail each of these and other deceptions underpinning the programme and debunks them using previously unpublished data covering the first 10 years of the programme. The sources used range from Freedom of Information requests, statistical analysis of official figures, court cases, government reports and media articles, in addition to case studies based on testimonies from migrants deported on these flights or organisations that worked with them.

Having debunked the myths, the authors then attempt to unravel the ‘ulterior motives’ behind the UK’s deportation charter flights, bringing to light little-known statements by government officials, secretive meetings and dodgy political deals. The motives examined range from a targets culture introduced by Labour and maintained by the current, Conservative-led coalition government, to the political agendas revolving around the UK’s foreign policy and its disciplining of migrant diaspora communities.

The next section explores a number of important legal questions concerning mass deportation flights, delving into the murky depths of European and UK case law, international treaties and other legal instruments. Among other things, the authors argue that deportation charter flights constitute a de facto policy of ‘collective expulsion’ and must, therefore, be prohibited. Even without this argument, a number of procedural issues that can be used to challenge the legality of these flights are also explored in detail. This is followed by two short sections on specific issues with significant legal implications: overbooking and the use of ‘reserves’, and the more recent use of monitors and doctors on mass deportation flights.

It is important to remember that, unlike deportations on scheduled flights, there are often no commercial and procedural barriers to the exceptional, brutal policies and practices surrounding mass deportation charter flights. There are also no other passengers to witness what happens on these flights, as some passengers did in the famous case of Jimmy Mubenga, leading to shocking revelations about the use of fatal restraint techniques and racist language. On charter flights, immigration officers and private security guards can get away with virtually anything, as they often do, in order to enforce the government’s ‘tough’ immigration policy. Hence, this report not only calls for the immediate halt of the deportation charters programme on the basis of detailed factual findings and legal arguments, but also challenges different practices and procedures that have been institutionalised or taken for granted during the 12 years of this little-known-about programme.

A note on the language: throughout the report, the authors use the words ‘removal’ and ‘deportation’ interchangeably, even though the two terms have different meanings in law and official jargon. ‘Administrative removal’ is a power enjoyed by normal Home Office immigration case workers who can decide, as they often do, to remove someone from the country after their immigration or asylum claim has been refused. Deportation, on the other hand, is used for foreign national offenders who have been sentenced to a criminal sentence of 12 months or more and are then deported – whether with or without a court order – as a second punishment because they are ‘not conducive to the public good’.

The interchangeable use of the two terms, or using ‘deportation’ for both, is a conscious choice: the authors of the report believe deportation should not be an administrative power or an additional punishment (the latter issue is explored in depth in the section on foreign national prisoners). The same goes for the interchangeable use of immigration prisons, (administrative) detention centres and immigration removal centres (IRCs), as they are officially called now.

In a similar vein, the terms ‘migrants’ or ‘migrants and refugees’ are often used by the authors for all types of migrants, unless a legal distinction is necessitated by a specific context. Derogatory, stigmatising and often inaccurate terms, such as ‘failed asylum seekers’, ‘illegal immigrants’ and so on, are used by politicians and the media to divide migrants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ones, legitimate and illegitimate, then demonise and illegalise those who do not not fit one of these artificially constructed, politically motivated categories. The authors believe that people choose or are forced to migrate for a wide variety of reasons and should be able to travel and live wherever they want or need to.

Whilst writing this report, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was split into two separate operational units: Visas & Immigration and Immigration Enforcement. It is the latter that is responsible for most of the policies and practices covered in this report (detention, deportation, etc.). The head of the unit is David Wood, who also features in the report as the previous head of Criminality and Detention within the UKBA.

Thanks are due to Frances Webber, Juliane Heider, Bethan Bowett-Jones, Amanda Sebestyen, Sita Balani and everyone else who helped us with this report, whether by providing information or financial support, reading or commenting. Thanks are also due to the detainees and deportees who shared their tragic experiences with us. It is to them, and all the other migrants and refugees who have faced and will face similar fates, that we dedicate this report.

Frontpage news for Nigeria Charter Flight

News from UK-Nigeria Deportation Charter Flight 8th March 2012

Frontpage of Saturday Vanguard Newspaper in Nigeria
UK deports 120 Nigerians over immigration offences

Daily Times Nigeria
Nigerian gay asylum seeker ‘prefer dying’ to deportation from UK

Other coverage:
*Hundreds of leaflets were handed out in Peckham, South London, on Saturday 3rd March to raise awareness about the deportation.

*Many people phoned the Nigerian High Commission in London on Wednesday 7th March to protest against the deportation. Staff at the Nigerian High Commission are paid by the UK Border agency to interview people in detention and issue them with emergency travel documents for deportation to Nigeria…even for non-Nigerian nationals.

*The next day, the UKBA replied to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request but refused to disclose their level of collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service. The Border Agency claim that: “Disclosing this information would have a clear effect on UKBA’s ability to carry out removals to Nigeria and would directly prejudice the operation of immigration controls”. I wonder why?
An investigation in Germany last year found that the Nigerian Embassy staff were paid €500 by the German authorities for every asylum-seeker they helped to deport…
The level of secrecy between the British and Nigerian Immigration authorities suggests a similar scam is operative in the UK.

*In the 12 months ending January 2012, UKBA has operated 11 mass deportation charter flights to Nigeria and the total number of Nigerian nationals returned on these flights was 492. These flights are still code-named operation MAJESTIC. [FOI request]

VICTORIES against Operation Majestic:

*Patrice Ndjonssy, Cameroonian asylum-seeker, not put on Nigerian Charter flight (14th attempt by UKBA to deport him)

*John Abraham at Colnbrook did not fly.

*Several women at Yarl’s Wood got their tickets cancelled

*Detainees not removed have sent the following short message (from Colnbrook, via John O):

“To all who Emailed/faxed/rang, your efforts are never in Vain, knowing there are people outside fighting for us inside is solidarity that keeps us strong and willing to fight on until UKBA stop serving Removal Directions and give us leave to remain. Keep up the good work”

UK/Nigeria deportation charter flight includes man from Cameroon…

Will Nigerian Government let UK deport a Cameroonian man to Nigeria?

  • Did January 26th UK/Nigeria deportation charter flight include Tanzanians and Somalis?
  • Why is Nigerian High Commission in London giving the UKBA emergency travel documents for non-Nigerians?

7th March 2012

[Source: No Deportations ]

14th attempt to Remove Patrice Ndjonssy

Say no to his deportation – Removal set for Thursday 8th February

Patrice Ndjonssy is a 40-year-old Cameroonian national is currently detained at Brook House IRC. Patrice fled to the UK in 2008, to escape persecution in Cameroon. His safety is at severe risk, should he be removed. UKBA plans to remove Patrice on Charter flight PVT090 Thursday 8th March 22:30. This will be the 14th attempt to remove Patrice. The destination country on Patrice’s RD’s is Cameroon but he is the only detainee on Charter flight PVT 090 with the destination as Cameroon. Other potential removees with RDs on PVT 090 the country of destination is Nigeria; Patrice is extremely worried that if removed he will be dumped in Nigeria!

13th attempt to Remove Patrice Ndjonssy

“The escorts came for me at 01:30 am Monday morning and we had to drive around and around and then find somewhere to wait. I do not know why they came so early.”

“Eventually we arrived at the airport, one escort went to the plane to see if they could take me. I think they were told they had to wait until the Air France pilot arrived. When the pilot did arrive, he came over to the van and asked if I was Patrice and asked if I was ready to fly with them. I said No I do not want to go back as my life will be in danger. He said okay I won’t carry you and went back to the plane. So here I am back in Colnbrook STH, no doubt waiting for RDs number 14.”

“I thank all the people who supported me and got in touch with Air France. But now UKBA say that the next thing will be a charter flight, but a charter flight to where to as I understand Cameroon will not accept such flights. I have been told by other detainees that a charter flight to Nigeria in January carried other nationalities than Nigerian. I believe they were from Tanzania and Somalia and they were dumped at Lagos airport to make their own way back to their countries”

About Patrice
In Douala, Western Cameroon, Patrice was the proprietor of a bar and he and his family (wife and two children) lived in adjoining accommodation. Although he occasionally served customers who were members of opposition parties, Patrice himself had no interest in politics and was not a member of any party. However, on 26th February 2008, two gendarmes took him into custody and questioned him on opposition membership.

The gendarmes then beat Patrice and placed in him a cell where he was tortured for two weeks. He was given electric shocks, a

strong light was shone in his eyes and cooking oil was poured over him to attract cockroaches.

Patrice escaped when one police officer took pity on him, hid him in the boot of his car and drove him out of the gendarmerie. The officer took him to his friend George’s house and told him that he needed to leave the country. A friend of George helped Patrice to travel to Nigeria and then to the UK, where he telephoned his wife, telling her to reimburse George for the flights. His wife told him that the bar had been burnt down on the 29th February, three days after his detention.

During his time in the UK, Patrice has made positive contributions to society through voluntary work. He spent two to three months on a wood recycling project and then spent six months volunteering with the Salvation Army. At the same time, Patrice has suffered greatly as a result of his treatment at the hands of the gendarmes in Cameroon. He has migraines and high blood pressure and takes medication every day. He is also in a highly stressed state.

Cameroon has a horrendous record of gross human rights violations, including torture and killings, against dissidents and members of opposition. Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa said, “Political opposition is not tolerated in Cameroon. Any dissent is suppressed through either violence or abuse of the legal system to silence critics.”

Even though Patrice has no involvement in politics, he is now assumed to be an opposition supporter and will feel the full force of this anti-opposition violence if he is returned to Cameroon.

Patrice’s appeals and Judicial reviews have been dismissed and he is now appeal rights exhausted.

What you can do to help

1. Please fax/phone/email, Secretary of State for the Home Office, Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP. Ask her to exercise her discretionary powers to stop the flight, ands release Patrice Ndjonssy from detention and to grant him protection in the UK.

Please remember to quote Patrice’s Home Office Reference number in any correspondence: N1142890/2

Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP Secretary of State for the Home Office, 2 Marsham St London SW1 4DF Fax: 020 7035 4745


Please let the campaign know of any actions:

Stop Deportation Network Events in Peckham this March against charter flights

Stop Deportation Network Events in South London – March 2012 with Portuguese translation

Mass Deportations to Nigeria and Cameroon from UK on 8th March!
Deportações em massa to Nigéria e os Camarões do UK 8 de Março!

  UK Border Agency call this: “Operation Majestic”!
Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido chamam isto de: “Operação Majestic”!


We say: “Deportations Kill! Deportation is always Violent!”
Nós dizemos: “Deportações matam. Deportação é sempre violenta!”

In October 2010 Angolan asylum-seeker Jimmy Mubenga was killed by deportation escorts on a commercial flight. Deportation is a fundamentally violent process, especially on mass deportations because there are no independent witnesses and the UK Border Agency hire 2 private security guards for each person being deported. So it’s no surprise that the violence continues even after Jimmy’s death…

Em outubro de 2010 Angolano, requerente  asilo, Jimmy Mubenga foi morto por escoltas de deportação em um vôo da British Airways. Deportação é um processo fundamentalmente violento, especialmente deportações em massa porque não há testemunhas independentes e a Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido contratam 140 agentes de segurança privada para  deportação de 70 pessoas. Por isso é nenhuma surpresa que a violência continua mesmo depois death… de Jimmy

“My brother today refused to go on a flight to Angola because he doesn’t know that country. He came here when he was 8yrs old. He’s now 29. We’ve been here over 20 years. Because he refused to go on the flight they badly beat him, stamping on his whole body, on his head. He’s now bleeding from his hands and can’t swallow. His neck’s swollen because they also strangled him. He’s badly bruised all over his body. He can barely speak now because of what they’ve done to him and this isn’t the 1st time – its happened at least 3 times before.” Friday 24th February 2012

“Meu irmão hoje recusou ir no voo para Angola porque ele não conhecia esse país. Ele veio aqui quando tinha 8 anos de idade. Ele agora é 29. Nós moramos  aqui mais de 20 anos. Porque ele se recusou a ir no aviao, eles fortemente,  bateram nele,  estamparam  em todo o seu corpo e tambem na cabeça. Ele agora está sangrando nas  mãos e não podendo engolir. Tem o pescoço  inchado porque eles também estrangularam ele. Ele esta gravemente ferido  com manchas  em  todo  corpo. Ele  nao pode falar  por causa do que eles fizeram a ele e  não é a 1 ª vez – já aconteceu pelo menos 3 vezes antes” Sexta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2012


On Wednesday 7th March at 2pm, let’s all call the Nigerian High Commission in London! 

Phone Blockade – Jam their Phone Lines! 
Call 020 7839 1244

Why? They collaborate with the UK Border Agency to make travel documents so people get deported. They even issue travel documents for non-Nigerians! The only African country to do this… And mass deportations to Nigeria are happening every 6 weeks.

Quarta-feira 7 de março às 2 pm

Vamos todos chamar  de Nigerian Alto Comissariado em Londres!

Telefone bloqueio – diske 020 7839 1244

Bloqueio  suas linhas de telefone!

Por quê?  Nigerian Alto Comissariado em Londres  em colaboracao com a Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido que produzem documentacao de viajem  para deportacao  das pessoas. Eles,  tambem, emitem  documentos de viagem para  não Nigerianos! Eles são o único país Africano a fazerem isso… e deportações em massa para a Nigéria estão acontecendo a cada 6 semanas.


Next Meeting: Saturday 24th March 2012,

2-5pm Bussey Building (in the theatre)
133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST
Peckham Rye Train Station/Buses 12, 37, 63, 78, 343, 197

Topic: How to protect ourselves from immigration checks in the street, at work and on demonstrations.

Creche and food available


Many people in Peckham live in fear of deportation. Members of the Stop Deportation Network who live locally want to help organise events where people can feel safe and confident to challenge deportation in whatever way they decide.

Tell your friends and family, any groups you belong to, and if you’re already involved in anti-deportation campaigns then let’s work together!

Próxima reunião

 Sábado a tarde, 24 de Março de 2012

2-5 pm Bussey edifício (dentro do teatro)

133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST

Peckham Rye Train Station/ônibus 12, 37, 63, 78, 343, 197

Creche and food available.

Tópico: Como proteger-nos da imigração: verificacao na rua, no trabalho e em manifestações.

Muitas pessoas em Peckham vivem com medo de deportação. Membros da Stop Deportation Network (Rede de Deportação) vivendo  localmente querem ajudar a organizar eventos onde as pessoas possam se sentirem seguro e confiante para desafiar a deportação de qualquer forma que eles decidem.

Mencione  aos seus amigos e familiares, todos os grupos que  você pertence e se você ja estiver  envolvidos em campanhas de anti-deportation, vamos trabalha juntos!

Nossa rede inclui pessoas com uma vasta gama de experiências: ex-detidos e requerentes de asilo, os visitantes aos centros de detenção de imigração, ativistas sem fronteiras, imigrantes, fiança fianças, médicos independentes, contatos legais, grupos de advocacia, grupos religiosos, grupos comunitários.


stopdeportation[AT]  (replace the [AT] with @ )

Tel: 07511399591

Twitter: @BorderlessLDN

Vigil held for Jimmy Mubenga one year after his death

A well-attended vigil was held at midday to commemorate the death of Jimmy Mubenga one year ago. He was an Angolan asylum-seeker who died from asphyxiation at the hands of deportation escorts on British Airways flight 77, 12th October 2010.

Family and anti-deportation campaigners gathered outside the Crown Prosecution Service in London to demand Justice for Jimmy. The deportation escorts at the time of Jimmy’s death were working for the private security contractor G4S.

This article on the Nigerian Village Square blog discusses the tragedy in a wider context of Western Imperial involvement in Africa: “on that same flight, there were British, American and Canadian engineers going to make money for themselves and families from Angola’s lucrative oil fields, diamonds, gold and copper mines. Jimmy Mubenga is the only citizen going back to his own country in chains, seated by the back toilets”.

Read full article here: