UKBA deportation to Nigeria tonight – call embassy

URGENT ACTION APPEAL

9 October, 2013

Over 60 vulnerable people face deportation to Nigeria at 8.30 TONIGHT on a specially ‘chartered flight’ [number PVT 090] organised by the Home Office and departing from an undisclosed UK airport.

In recent weeks, Nigerian authorities allegedly turned away two deportation charter flights because they could not process so many nationals returned from the UK at once. This is according to the Unity Centre in Glasgow, a refugee charity who are in contact with several asylum-seekers booked on the flight. Unity say “legal aid funding restrictions have prevented lawyers from taking on deportee’s asylum cases even when there is new evidence.”

“Many individuals on this flight have not had access to a fair trial. There has not been time to assist each individual sufficiently with their case to effectively prevent their removal on this particular flight.” The group add that one man was only booked on the flight yesterday: “he has no lawyer and less than no time to prepare”

The situation is made more difficult by the UK Border Agency who are moving detainees between different immigration detention centres in preparation for tonight’s flight. Unity say that an LGBT asylum-seeker “was moved on the day of his surgery with a lawyer which greatly delayed his access to legal help”.

Unity are calling for anyone who can to call the Nigerian High Commission and urge them to try to stop the current charter flight.

Anyone who has time please call the number below and let them know of your concern for many of the individuals on this flight and urge them that they do not have to be party to this inhumane method of mass deportation but that the merits of each immigration case should be considered fully and not rushed in order to fill mass charter flights which is what is occurring.

Nigerian High Commission

Phone: 0207 839 1244
extention 277, alternatively just press 0 during the main menu of options.

Fax: 020 7839 8746

Or online message
http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/enquiries

Syrian refugees threaten to jump off roof at Calais ferry port, demanding entry to UK

Syrian refugees threaten to jump off roof at Calais ferry port, demanding entry to UK

Syrian refugees in Calais block a walkway to passenger terminal

Syrian refugees in Calais block a walkway to passenger terminal

PRESS RELEASE 4th October 2013
Update 10:30am, Port of Calais, France:

For more information please contact:
calaisolidarity@gmail.com or call 0033 605 574 826
French police are attempting to clear a protest by 65 Syrian refugees in Calais this morning.

2 young men are on the roof of the port’s departure lounge, threatening to jump unless their demand to enter the UK is met.

20 of the group are entering their third day of hunger strike.

The protesters want a representative from the UK to come to Calais to speak to them and grant them refuge in the UK.

syrain-refugees-calais-pic-2

This morning at 7.30 am around 70 riot police and border guards arrived at the departure lounge to violently evict the 65 Syrian refugees on protest there since 2 pm yesterday.

At 8:00 am today a representative of the local Prefecture (regional official) arrived to start negotiations with those on the roof. He is trying to make contact with the UK Government for their response.

In a statement issued by the protesters on Wednesday they said;

‘We are about 65 people from Syria at the port at the moment, with our
families, old women, mothers, children the youngest being three years old and friends’.

‘We are now demonstrating in the port of Calais, we will not leave until
they let us go to England. We demand one person from the UK home office comes here to speak with us’

The message from all of the Syrian protesters is clear

‘refuge in the UK or die at the port in Calais’

The refugees are also angry with the inhumane treatment that they are receiving in France. The last month has seen an escalation in the harassment of migrants in Calais. Evictions of shelters,destruction of people’s property and arrests have been taking place on a daily basis.

Notes for journalists:

Extensive coverage in French media but not picked up yet by UK press.

FULL statement from Syrian protest camp, Calais, France 02/10/2013

‘We have been here now between one and two months. We are about 65 people from Syria at the port at the moment, with our families, old women, mothers, children the youngest being three years old and friends.

There is nowhere safe for us to shelter in Calais, we are here just for one thing and that is to have asylum in England. Many of us have family and friends  in England who we would like to see and be able to live with. There is also a strong Syrian community there, more than in France.

We are now demonstrating in the port of Calais, we will not leave until they let us go to England. We demand one person from the UK home office comes here to speak with us, and to see our situation. We have the right to claim asylum in England, but how do we get there? There is not a legal way to cross.

We are about 65 people from Syria at the port at the moment, with our families, old women, mothers, children the youngest being three years old and friends.

We have the right to live a peaceful life and we have unfortunately war in Syria. We need help quickly. We are looking for safety and shelter in Europe but we have not found it yet and we hope to find it in uk.’

For background information on repression of migrants in Calais see ‘This
Border Kills’
http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/this-border-kills-our-dossier-of-violence-2/

For updates and news see the Calais Migrant Solidarity Website
http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/this-border-kills-our-dossier-of-violence-2/

HMIP publishes deportation ‘concerns’ before Pakistan flight

Prison inspector publishes deportation ‘concerns’ ahead of Pakistan flight tonight

PRESS RELEASE from Corporate Watch, 1 October 2013

Movement for Justice protest outside Home Office today

Movement for Justice protest outside Home Office today

The Chief Inspector of Prisons published today a report raising “a number of concerns about the overseas escorts” employed by the Home Office for deportation flights. The stark warning comes as 30 detainees at Yarl’s Wood are on hunger-strike in protest at a mass deportation to Pakistan this evening. Supporters from the ‘Movement for Justice’ (MFJ) are gathered outside the Home Office this afternoon. A spokesperson from the group said that “five of the eight women facing deportation to Pakistan tonight have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment from male officers in Yarl’s Wood. The attempt to deport the witnesses is part of the Home Office’s desperate attempts to cover up the scandal”.

The Inspection took place during the summer at Brook House, an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) outside Gatwick Airport run by G4S. The overseas escorts are provided by Tascor, another private security company who will be taking the Pakistani women from Yarl’s Wood to an undisclosed airport tonight. In a statement that appears to corroborate the MFJ’s concerns, the prison inspector said “If allegations of assault were made by a detainee during removal, which were supported by medical evidence, the Home Office did not delay removal pending a police investigation”. The inspection team “also saw physical and verbal intimidation of a detainee”, describing how “an escort, taller and bigger than him, came close to him and said that if he had to be placed in handcuffs he would need to explain to the receiving authorities why he did not want to return to their country, implying that he would experience rough treatment”.

The Inspector also said “the practice of taking detainees to the airport as standbys continued and it remained inhumane and unacceptable”, a reference to the practice of ‘reserves’ which the Home Affairs Select Committee has called to be stopped.

ENDS

Prison Inspector quotes taken from para’s 4.32 and 4.34 of http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmipris/immigration-removal-centre-inspections/brook-house/brook-house-2013.pdf

Yarl’s Wood women: “We are not street dogs”

Yarl’s Wood women: “We are not street dogs”

PRESS RELEASE from Corporate Watch

Over 30 women are on hunger strike at the notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire, with half of them facing deportation to Pakistan tomorrow on a specially chartered flight. Corporate Watch takes a look at the deals between London and Islamabad on security, trade and aid, arguing that asylum-seekers are being treated as bargaining chips in these negotiations.

British Home Secretary Theresa May met her Pakistani counter-part last Tuesday and praised him for  “adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. Photo: BHC Islamabad

British Home Secretary Theresa May met her Pakistani counter-part last Tuesday and praised him for “adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. Photo: BHC Islamabad

The women on hunger strike, many of whom are seeking asylum from gender-based persecution, are detained at Yarl’s Wood – itself the scene of an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse by Serco guards. A statement issued by some of the hunger strikers challenges the legality of “mass deportations”, noting that the women “have not had access to legal aid”, and that there is a “huge waiting list” for lawyers, “due to [a] mass round up” of Pakistani asylum-seekers in preparation for a chartered deportation flight to Pakistan tomorrow, 1 October. Corporate Watch has already conducted extensive legal research into ‘charter flights’, which corroborates many of these women’s claims.

The women’s defiant resistance must be particularly sensitive for the Home Office, because the coalition government had so far got away largely unchallenged with their aggressive increase in deportations to Pakistan which began in November 2011 – it is only now that people’s pain is being heard (read Amina’s story, for example). Pakistani asylum-seekers have become the number one target for the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) secretive charter flights. Since February 2012, the UKBA has hired monthly night-time flights to Pakistan, removing between 50 and 85 people per private plane. It is standard practice for two or three times that number of private security guards to escort the deportees.

This article examines the collusion between the British and Pakistani politicians, who agreed these deportations whilst bargaining over trade, aid and security.

“Unbreakable partnership”

An ominous precursor to this deportation programme can be found in US diplomatic cables, leaked via WikiLeaks. Less than six months before New Labour lost the 2010 general election, the Conservatives’ then Shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox met the US Ambassador to Britain. The pair discussed foreign policy towards the Indian sub-continent: “Turning to India, Fox criticised the Labour government for policies which reinforce the Indian government’s long-held view that HMG’s [Her Majesty’s Government’s] foreign relations on the subcontinent are ‘skewed to Pakistan.’ Fox predicted this would not be a factor under a Conservative government, since the Conservatives are ‘less dependent’ than the Labour Party on votes from the British-Pakistani community.” Clearly then, deporting members of that community would not pose a big problem electorally.

Once in office, Home Secretary Theresa May travelled to Pakistan on 24 October 2010. She met Pakistan’s President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani to discuss “a wide range of issues of mutual concern”. These diplomatic discussions continued with then immigration minister Damian Green and cabinet minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi visiting Pakistan between 19 and 23 February 2011. They met with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who “stated his support for the return of illegal migrants by the UK.”[1]

Prime Minister David Cameron made his first official visit to Pakistan, flanked by Joint Intelligence Committee chiefs, on 5 April 2011 to launch an ‘Enhanced Strategic Dialogue’ involving annual meetings between the country’s leaders and bi-annual talks between foreign ministers. Cameron announced £650 million in “education aid” for Pakistan and set “a target of increasing bilateral trade in goods and services to £2.5 billion a year by 2015.”[2]

It was against this shift in diplomatic relations that the UK’s first deportation charter flight to Pakistan took place on 24 November 2011. The flight returned 23 men and two women. Theresa May arrived in Pakistan on the same day and held a press conference with the Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik, in which she stressed that bilateral ties were “stronger than ever”.

The Tory’s attempt to close the door on migration from Pakistan has coincided with a push for more British investment in Pakistan’s economy, which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office called an “unbreakable partnership”. A press release from February 2012 said that the “UK Trade Minister Lord Green’s recent visit had highlighted the opportunities in retail, energy and mining sectors”.

Only last week, Home Secretary Theresa May visited Pakistan again to “advocate further co-operation between the UK and Pakistan in our efforts to tackle the shared threats posed by terrorism, narcotics trafficking and illegal migration” in her meeting with the new Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. According to the Dawn newspaper, Theresa May “welcomed the commitment that Interior Minister Nisar and the government of Pakistan have shown to adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. It would seem that Pakistan’s access to British aid and investment is partly conditional on accepting deportations from the UK, as well as co-operation on counter-terrorism initiatives.

To follow UK diplomacy in Pakistan, keep an eye on www.flickr.com/photos/ukinpakistan/sets/

References

[1] British High Commission in Islamabad, Press Release, 23 February 2011.

[2] Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Release, 05 April 2011.

EDL “Empire: progress, Slavery: price of an education”

EDL “Empire: progress, Slavery: price of an education”

This video was recorded at the sidelines of a recent EDL protest, after the death of Lee Rigby. The woman blames “mass immigration” for an isolated murder, i.e. blaming every immigrant who ever came here for what happened in Woolwich. She then goes on to describe Imperialism as “progress”, and Slavery as the “price of an education”.

People of colour are expected to apologise for any crime committed by someone who looks like them in Britain. Meanwhile, white people celebrate the countless colonial genocides committed around the world by their ancestors as “progress”.

This confused white woman was not alone in her conflation of murder with migration – and the predictable call for people to be ‘stripped’ of their citizenship and deported (in whichever order). The Tory MP for Beckenham (and Northern Ireland veteran) Bob Stewart said, without any apparent sense of irony, that he “would like to see anyone who advocates violence out of our country on the first aeroplane back to wherever they came from” – despite the fact the Woolwich attackers were born in Britain, and despite the fact that his demand would surely include every MP who votes for British wars of aggression?

Almost 1000 people deported on UK charter flight in first 4 months of 2013

Use of charter flights for mass expulsions from UK, December 2012 – April 2013

Charter_Flight_Log_Dec-2012_Apr-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”).

Notes:

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.