Charter Flight

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.

Detention of Afghans who cannot be deported is unlawful

Detention of Afghans who cannot be deported is unlawful, say anti-deportation campaigners

[Press Release 1/05/2012]

  • Mass deportations to Afghanistan repeatedly cancelled amid worsening security in the country
  • Detainees still being given tickets despite lack of prospect to remove them
  • Campaigners say the prolonged detention of Afghan refugees is unlawful

A car bomb exploded in Kabul on Wednesday morning (2/05/12), killing 6 people, just hours after US President Obama had visited the capital [Reuters]

Deportation charter flights to Afghanistan have been repeatedly cancelled as a result of the spiralling security situation in the country. In the latest incident, a flight due to depart on 6th May has been called off, making it the fourth failed attempt in the past two months.

Under a programme known as Operation Dickens, approximately 60 refused asylum seekers from Afghanistan were being forcibly removed on specially chartered flights approximately every two weeks. [1]

Over the last two months however, the flights have been repeatedly cancelled amid worsening security conditions in the country. [2] The previous flight, on 17th April, was called off at the last minute after Kabul saw the most violent attacks in more than a decade. [3]

Central to this controversy is the refusal by Reliance detainee escorts to fly to Kabul. Earlier this month media reports revealed that 11 Reliance employees had been suspended after refusing to go to Afghanistan saying they were concerned for their safety. [4]

Yet the Home Office claims it is ‘safe’ to return refused asylum seekers to Afghanistan and many are still being held in detention having been told they will be removed from the UK ‘soon’. According to campaigners, some detainees have been issued with tickets on seven consecutive occasions, only to have their flight cancelled at the last minute.

According to the law, immigration detainees facing removal may only be kept in detention so long as their removal is imminent. If it appears that removal cannot be effected within a reasonable time period, detention becomes unlawful and the detainees should be released. [5]

A spokesperson from campaign group Stop Deportation said: “Not only do we consider this practice unlawful, it is also a clear example of how ridiculous the deportation system is. Countries torn apart by western military adventures are declared ‘safe’ and people are forcibly deported back to the same circumstance they had fled in the first place.”

Campaigners claim that amongst those routinely deported to Afghanistan are 16 and 17-year-olds whose age is disputed by the Home Office, and refused asylum seekers who have been living in the UK for more than a decade. One of the detainees awaiting removal has reportedly attempted to commit suicide in detention twice whilst awaiting removal. [6]

Campaigners have demanded that all deportations to Afghanistan are stopped immediately and Afghan detainees released without delay. Sabrina Gosling from Stop Deportation said: “Against a backdrop of deteriorating security in the country, the government needs to reconsider its policy of deporting people to Afghanistan as a matter of urgency. We are demanding an immediate suspension of all returns to that country.”

-ends-

For further information and questions, please contact

stopdeportation@riseup.net

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Freedom of Information request

[2] Flights due to depart on 12th March, 28th March, 17th April, and 6th May were all cancelled, with only one in that period (4th April) able to go ahead.

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17720617

[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/13/staff-deporting-foreigners-loutish

[5] R (on the application of Hardial Singh) v Governor of Durham Prison [1983] EWHC 1 (QBD)

[6] This trauma is exacerbated by the current use of controversial ‘reserve’ lists. Reserves are detainees who are given tickets in the event that others have their removal cancelled through last-minute legal challenges. Reserves are not told if they are on the list, and they may only realise once they are taken to the airport and told there is no space for them on the plane. The practice was much criticised earlier this year by the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report on Rules Governing Enforced Removals from the UK, and the HM Chief Inpector of Prisons in his 2011 inspection of Tinsley House, where he described the practice as “objectionable and distressing”, and “inhumane.

[7] Charter flights are a large-scale operations, involving two escorts per deportee and contracts with both airlines and coach companies, at a cost up to £150,000 [7]. http://ncadc.org.uk/blog/2010/02/stop-deportations-to-nigeria/

Security fears stopped deportations to Afghanistan in March 2012

Security fears stopped deportations to Afghanistan in March 2012

The mass deportation from UK to Afghanistan scheduled for 12th March was CANCELLED because the deportation escorts said it wasn’t safe to go! It was rescheduled for 26th March, postponed to 28th March, and postponed again to 4th April. Normally, there is a deportation charter flight to Afghanistan about every two weeks (charters to Afghanistan are the most regular of the mass deportation flights from the UK). But events in Afghanistan seem to have frightened the private security company who provide the deportation escorts…so there was a halt to the Afghan charter flights this month.

Many people know that the UK has embarked in a disastrous war in Afghanistan, alongside the US and NATO.
What most people do not know, or are not aware of, is that the people who arrive in UK fleeing the war in Afghanistan are routinely detained, denied protection and sent back to Afghanistan, on regular charter flights from London to Kabul. Usually young Afghan boys are left to stay in UK until they turn 18, then they are told they have to go back; if they don’t go they are arrested and put forcibly on a plane.

Aziz Hussini, aged just 18, is in detention, due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Afghanistan on this charter flight. Agents of the UK Border Agency arrested Aziz on his wedding day in Glasgow, snatching him at the Registry Office. His fiancée Gemma is a British citizen. Aziz arrived in the UK in 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. Perhaps the UK government thinks that no one in this country cares what happens to refugee children when they reach 18, that we are all happy to see them kicked out of care and into the refugee camps of Afghanistan. His friends and devastated fiancée have set up a campaign to stop him being deported and to have him released.
 http://www.ncadc.org.uk/campaigns/aziz_hussini/index.html

Aziz was first booked on a charter flight due to depart the UK on the 12th of March. The flight was cancelled at the last moment because Reliance had concerns about the safety of its employees, due to worsening security situation in the aftermath of the massacre of 17 innocent Afghan civilians by a US soldier. Reliance is the private security firm who took on the dirty work to carry out deportation, after G4S private security killed Jimmy Mubenga during a deportation attempt. If it is dangerous for private security guards to fly to Afghanistan, how can it be safe for Afghan refugees? How can it be safe for a 18 years old who has lost all contact with his family and has no support there? Next they booked Aziz on a charter flight the 26th of March, that has now been postponed to the 28th of March and then 4th April, for unknown reasons.

Many times the Afghans struggle before they are deported, they don’t want to be sent back, they go on hunger strike, but there is very little publicity around the issue. Many Afghans are detained and put on the ‘fast track’, which further curtails their right to obtain proper legal representation. The ‘fast track’ procedure for asylum cases was introduced supposedly to deal with claims that are straightforward or clearly unfunded: so how can people from a country at war be put on the fast track? How can exiles be deported to a country at war anyway? In fact, most European countries do NOT usually deport people to countries at war: it’s only the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands who do. Note that until quite recently people fleeing war were normally left to stay in the UK on humanitarian grounds, if they weren’t granted asylum: it is only from the eighties and Thatcher era that the UK government began to tighten the screw, build prisons for immigrants and deport people to war zones. The subsequent Labour and Tory governments have continued to curtail the rights of migrants and refugees. To obtain refugee status in the UK became increasingly difficult and nearly nobody is given humanitarian protection nowadays. Then again, the UK in the past deported Jews to Nazi Germany.

Despite, or perhaps because of their military involvement in Afghanistan, the UK authorities are very reluctant to give protection to the Afghans who arrive in the UK, and for Afghans to be recognized as refugees by the UK is extremely difficult. According to the Home Office, if somebody is not safe, say, in Helmand, he can safely relocate in Kabul, which is total bullshit: there is no part of Afghanistan that is safe, the country is destroyed by a war of 30 years and life expectancy is of 45 years only, the lowest in the world. Afghani casualty figures are higher than at any time since the invasion, and up 8% on last year. The Taliban explode car bombs and send suicide bombers everywhere, they have carried out major attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country under control of the US and Afghan army. The Taliban are held responsible by NATO for the majority of civilian casualties. However, the casualties numbers provided are angrily disputed by Afghan sources, including political figures and human rights agencies, who are accusing the UNAMA February report of grossly underestimating the civilian casualties by the US and their allies. Civilian casualties are however on the rise and amount to over 3000 in 2011. The recent massacre of 17 innocent civilians including 9 children – allegedly by one US soldier who was allegedly drunk or had gone crazy – and is now being tried in the US and ‘does not remember anything, the bodies were burned’ – may not be the work of one man only… Sgt Robert Bales killings seem to fit in a pattern of raids on civilians’ homes, random shootings and arbitrary killings that have exacerbated the Afghans. In recent months several US and coalition soldiers have been killed, not by insurgents but by Afghan soldiers. The burning of a pile of Qur’ans and other Islamic books by some US troops provoked a wave of protests and riots all over the country that left 24 Afghans and 6 American soldiers dead. Despite the planned deployment of US and coalition forces by 2014, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan John Allen said he believes American troop withdrawals should stop in 2013, keeping at least 68,000 by 2014, in contradiction of Obama administration plans to have combat troops out by that year.

After the invasion of the Russian Army in 1979, there were 7 million Afghan refugees around the world, most in Pakistan and Iran. After the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, almost 5 million people went back to Afghanistan. In the following years, another wave of refugees left Afghanistan due to the ongoing hostilities. Nearly one in three of the world refugees come from Afghanistan. The UNCHR and other refugee agencies have admitted failure in providing for the refugees who have returned, who mostly fail to reintegrate and live in abject poverty in slums and camps. Several, including many children, have died of cold and deprivation during the Winter months. Most Afghans refugees live in poverty in neighbouring countries but Pakistan now want to deport the Afghans in irregular position back en masse by 2013. Only a minority of Afghan refugees make it to Europe, and a small minority make it to the UK. Almost all are young men and underage boys, very few families arrive here, women and girls often do not make it this far due to the harshness and brutality of European border controls, but there are many Afghan women stuck in Athens for instance.

The Bush administration decided to invade Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. First they demanded the Taliban to hand Bin Laden over, in the wake of the 9/11 massacres of 2993 people. The Taliban asked for evidence of Bin Laden involvement; the US refused to give any. They invaded the country and ousted the Taliban, replacing it with the corrupt puppet government of Hamid Karzai.  Originally the US secret services helped set up Al Qaida, for the purpose of fighting the Russians, but there are ongoing relations between CIA and Al Qaida to this day.

With the end of the Cold War a very essential element in rallying popular support for war went missing: the enemy. It was therefore imperative for the US military-industrial complex to find another powerful enemy and provide the justification for their wars under the banner of the War on Terror. What the Bush administration did in Iraq: they went for Saddam, destroyed the country for some weapons of mass destructions that did not even exist, and made over 2.000.000 refugees. The real reason for that war was that they wanted the Iraqi oil. In Afghanistan they want to build some gas pipelines to get the gas of the region.

Refugees are hostages in the endless imperialistic war for exploitation of resources. Unwanted by the same Western governments who caused the war in the first place, they are liable to be detained in special prisons for immigrants and often are sent back to the dangers they tried to escape; asylum procedures have become more and more of a complicated farce and a façade. As the government sets targets of people to be deported, many asylum seekers are refused for the mere purpose of meeting those targets. For Afghans as I said it is very difficult to get asylum. Many Afghan refugees know that, and do not even bother to apply for asylum. some cannot apply because they have fingerprints in other countries. They live ‘illegally’ in the UK, open to exploitation and always afraid to be caught in Gestapo-style raids by UKBA officers and police on workplaces, underground stations and people’s homes.
Mass deportations from the UK to Iraq have stopped also thanks to a sustained political campaign both in UK and Iraq. Sadly mass deportations to Afghanistan continue. We need to raise the issue, build resistance and step up the fight.

No Borders! Stop Deportations!

Links:
Known as Operation Ravel, the charter flights to Afghanistan are the most regular of the mass deportations from the UK, taking place roughly once a fortnight and usually involving two coaches of deportees. Detainees are given Removal Directions (RDs) with a standard flight number ‘PVT008′. Companies known to have participated in these flights over the years include Hamburg International Airlines and more recently, Lufthansa-owned BMI. Notorious coach company, WH Tours, based in Crawley, provide transport to the airport.
 https://stopdeportations.wordpress.com/afghani/

 http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/23/headlines#0

 http://iwpr.net/report-news/afghans-dispute-nato-casualty-figures

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/aug/10/afghanistan-civilian-casualties-statistics

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is predicting the United States needs to prepare for heavy fighting during the upcoming year. General John Allen made the comment under questioning from Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.
 http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/23/headlines#8

UNHCR says it has realized in recent months that for the past decade, it has followed a misguided strategy in dealing with the nearly five million refugees – almost a quarter of the population – it has helped return to Afghanistan since 2002.
 http://www.irinnews.org/Report/94965/AFGHANISTAN-Towards-more-sustainable-solutions-for-returnees

 http://www.irinnews.org/Report/94959/AFGHANISTAN-Bracing-for-mass-evictions-from-Pakistan

The ‘reasons’ for the war in Afghanistan –by Noam Chomsky
 http://stopwarblog.blogspot.fr/2009/02/chomsky-on-afghanistan.html

FCUKBA: a month of immigration repression and resistance

FCUKBA: a month of immigration repression and resistance

A random UKBA raid on a workplace

Feb 25th-March 24th 2012: A months’ work for those lovely people of the UK Border Agency, safeguarding our nation from the invading hordes of furriners

February 25th: Massive raid on Reggaeton gig in Elephant & Castle; up to 90 arrests.
Police & UKBA turned up at a gig in the Coronet which was due to be attended by Don Omar (Puerto Rican reggaeton star with a large Latin@ following). They started harassing the queue of predominantly Latin American people outside the gig. It is reported that once people showed their tickets to security at the door, they were in turn passed to UKBA. Witnesses say up to 90 people were arrested through these immigration checks. Some people were deported within days of the raid.
Just like that; one minute you’re enjoying a Saturday night out with friends, the next you find yourself being forcibly removed on a flight to Bolivia.
There is talk of other raids having taken place that day but we have no concrete information as yet. None of this was reported in the mainstream press, although just one site ran the story of the gig:  http://www.theprisma.co.uk/2012/03/12/immigration-raid-a-concert-with-a-very-bad-taste/

February 28th: Charter to Sri Lanka
UK deported up to 100 refugees to Sri Lanka, despite evidence of ongoing torture.

8th March: Charter to Nigeria, 120 people deported.
A number of detainees did, however, get their flight cancelled, and sent this message to supporters; “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”

12th March: Charter to Afghanistan – cancelled due to ‘security reasons’ – likely due to the effects of the Koran burnings, subsequent killing of dozens of protestors, and the massacre in Kandahar. Apparently its safe enough to deport Afghan teenagers but not to touch down in Kabul if you are a British citizen working as a hired thug “escort” for Reliance

One of the many due to go on that flight was Aziz Hussini, who was detained after the UKBA raided registry office on the day of his wedding, and dragged him away from his British partner, alleging it was a sham marriage. Obviously it’s inconceivable that migrants and British nationals could have a genuinely loving relationship.
Aziz and dozens of others are still in detention, awaiting deportation. More info on Aziz’s case here:  http://unitycentreglasgow.org/?page_id=470 and here  http://ncadc.cmph.org/o/IsXN-QeWXqFnP4bxUg7jBg

19th March: Charter flight to Pakistan. It looks like the government is intending to make Pakistan another regular destination for mass deportations, to add to the list (Afghanistan, Nigeria, Jamaica – and in the past year Sri Lanka and Ghana).

28th March: Planned charter to Afghanistan.
This is the flight that had originally been scheduled for 12th, was then rescheduled for 26th, and the latest news is it has been put off again to wednesday 28th.

Our info comes from contact with members of particular communities and from detainees, so it is possible that there are other charters which go under the radar. Charters to Afghanistan are currently the most frequent, taking place at a rate of one every two weeks.

But where there is power, there is resistance.

Daniel Ngonga Nsevel, a Congolese detainee has recently embarked on a hunger strike in Colnbrook immigration prison after guards beat him up during a deportation attempt last month:  https://stopdeportations.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/detainee-starts-hunger-strike-after-deportation-lynching/

Over the past month or so some activists from No Borders and the Stop Deportation network have been busy in the Peckham area, where many migrants from countries currently targeted for deportation flights live and work. We have held a public meeting on resisting deportation; distributed hundreds of leaflets in the streets and to people shopping and working in the grocers, barbers, butchers and mobile phone shops; and today, ran a skillshare on how to challenge immigration checks. Among the the things we learnt during the workshop was the fact that immigration checks take place regularly on buses and at bus stops in the very early hours of the morning, as UKBA know that many migrants have low-paid jobs as cleaners or work night shifts; and that in dawn raids on those housed in NASS accommodation (government housing for eligible asylum seekers), NASS now give UKBA keys to the premises to allow immigration officers to reach them before they have a chance to resist. This means that refused asylum seekers wake up to find immigration officers standing by their beds ready to drag them off to detention centres.

These outreach events have led to members of different groups and communities meeting and starting to build a more concerted grassroots resistance to the UK’s oppressive immigration policies.

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
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/03/uk-deports-120-nigerians-over-immigration-offences/

Daily Times Nigeria
Nigerian gay asylum seeker ‘prefer dying’ to deportation from UK
http://dailytimes.com.ng/article/nigerian-gay-asylum-seeker-%E2%80%98prefer-dying%E2%80%99-deportation-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”

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]riseup.net  (replace the [AT] with @ )

www.stopdeportations.wordpress.com

Tel: 07511399591

Twitter: @BorderlessLDN

Protestors confront Border Agency staff over mass deportation to Afghanistan, as resistance spreads across the UK!

Protestors confront Border Agency staff over mass deportation to Afghanistan, as resistance spreads across the UK!

On Monday 19 December, the UK Border Agency carried out a mass deportation of Afghan asylum seekers to Kabul.

No Borders North East organized a demonstration on the 19th of December 2011 at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) Northumbria Building, in North Shields, Tyne & Wear, UK.

They raised awareness towards a Charter flight, which was later due to depart that day. After demonstrating outside, activists then attempted to directly contact UKBA staff that had the authorization to determine the flights departure.

This follows a wave of autonomous action in the UK against charter flights. On Thursday 15th December, activists in West London had organised a protest against a UK charter flight to Sri Lanka and struck at the heart of the Government’s “unjust deportation machine”, when they blocked the road outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth immigration prisons with ‘lock-on’ devices and a tripod. On Thursday 8th December, protestors ambushed the Nigerian High Commissioner in Central London over his support for a mass deportation to Nigeria scheduled for later that evening.

Charter flights are a numbers driven exercise to remove as many people as possible. They are conducted under a veil of secrecy which denies deportees access to justice. With the secrecy surrounding charter flights it is impossible to know how many other deportees on this, and other flights have been similarly denied access to justice and equality.

The  UK asylum determination system is structured towards denying as many applications as possible. Because of this, people who are in need of sanctuary are refused status, made destitute and subjected to violent enforcement procedures. Charter flights such as this one and forced removals in general must be stopped.

Afghanistan is not safe

With regard to Afghanistan, just 2 weeks ago, Human Rights Watch reported:

Conflict-related violence remains a daily reality in many parts of the country.’

[Human Rights Watch – Afghanistan: A decade of Missed Opportunities 4 Dec 2011 http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/03/afghanistan-decade-missed-opportunities ]

The United Nations also has also raised concerns about conditions for people returned to Afghanistan:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that a significant number of all returnees (potentially 40 per cent) are still in need of reintegration support and that many (potentially 28 per cent) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.’ 

UN, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 09/03/2011. http://www.ecoi.net/file_upload/1226_1300285687_n1125034.pdf
Yet the UK Border Agency ignore these reports in favour of out of date country evidence which supports their claim that Afghanistan is a safe place.

Stop Deportations

Forced removals such as this are an illustration of the violence and indifference that are essential components of the UK’s dehumanising migration regime. The vast majority of deportations have been to countries devastated by wars and armed conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, DR Congo, Nigeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka. After being forcibly deported, many have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Others have had to change their identities or move again to avoid persecution. Forcible deportations tear apart people’s lives as they are split from their families and communities and their right to freedom of movement is denied.

Stop Deportations! Freedom of Movement for all!

More on Afghanistan:

UK Government, on the Foreign and Commonwealth office’s website, states that Kabul is not a safe place:

‘No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.’

‘The kidnap threat throughout the country remains high, particularly against local nationals.’

‘We advise against all but essential travel to Kabul. There are regular, indiscriminate rocket and bomb attacks in the city.’[1]

UKBA’s own Country of Origin Information Report on Afghanistan in 2008 stated ‘It is not difficult to track people down in Afghanistan…

TAG files legal challenge to UK deportation policy

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 December 2011, 03:27 GMT]

Tamils Against Genocide (TAG-UK), an activist group that assists in obtaining legal redress to war-affected Tamil civilians, filed a legal action in the British High Court Tuesday claiming that UK government’s policy to proceed with the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka was a breach of legitimate expectation of policy review following serious concerns of returnee safety revealed in the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) report and the submissions by independent NGOs including Freedom From Torture (FfT) and Amnesty International to UNCAT, legal sources in London said. The British Government has reportedly organized a chartered flight to return nearly fifty failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka on 15th December.

Repost. Read full article here – http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=34700

Embassy Boss Ambushed Over Mass Deportation Of Nigerians

Embassy Boss Ambushed Over Mass Deportation Of Nigerians

Nigerian High Commissioner in London turned his back on deportees today (8/12/2011).

High Commissioner Dr Tafida ignored calls from protesters to stop a mass deportation of up to 70 Nigerians from London to Lagos, scheduled for the evening.

Angry demonstrators ambushed Dr Tafida when he walked outside to bid farewell to guests. They demanded he stop tonight’s flight as aides rushed him back inside.

Britain needs Nigeria’s consent to deport its citizens. Eight members of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) work at the luxurious High Commission building in Central London. NIS staff confirm the nationality of detainees who the UK Border Agency (UKBA) want to deport to Nigeria by conducting interviews inside immigration prisons where they assess their accent and facial features.

Nigerians who work without permission can be arrested. The UKBA raids work places and (unlawfully) spot-checks people in the street who it suspects as ‘illegal immigrants‘. A six-month prison sentence is standard, followed by an indefinite period of detention in an ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ while the UKBA organises their deportation.

A Zimbabwean woman was detained for almost 2 years and regularly interviewed by NIS staff. Eventually, they accepted she was not Nigerian and the UKBA released her.

The High Commission claims “to protect the national interests of Nigeria within the United Kingdom”. However, migrant groups say their dignity is disrespected by the Embassy because it collaborates in their deportation. Some have built up considerable lives in the UK and are forced to leave it all behind.

Mass deportation ‘charter flights’ are particularly controversial. In August 2010 the UK expelled 124 Nigerians, including 10 children, on a single flight.

Six Nigerians have died during deportations from Europe – the highest number of fatalities from any one nationality. Last year Nigerian man Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa died on a mass deportation from Switzerland. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has code-named its charter flights ‘Operation Majestic’ and used coaches branded ‘Just Go’ to drive deportees to the airport. On average each flight costs £150,000 of public money.

Campaigners say the UKBA has stopped using commercial flights to deport Nigerians. Instead private aircraft are chartered every 42 days for a collective expulsion. This comes after Immigration Authorities were embarrassed by the death of an Angolan deportee at the back of a British Airways flight in full sight of other passengers, some of whom spoke out to the media.

Protesters have started to target the Nigerian High Commission because they see it as a weak link in the deportation regime: “British politicians brag to the tabloid press about how many people they deport. But Embassy staff here are embarrassed to help these deportations and want to keep their involvement quiet. Nigerian consent is crucial for deportations to happen. The Iraqi Parliament ended deportations from Europe overnight in October when it refused to accept any more deportees”.

A refugee rights group in Germany claim Nigerian Embassy Staff there take a €500 bribe for every Nigerian they help deport. The ‘Voice Baden Württemberg’ said: “For each candidate interviewed the Nigerian embassy gets €250 and another €250 for issued travelling certificate”.

The UKBA is planning a mass deportation to Sri Lanka on Thursday 15th December. ‘Freedom From Torture’ has published new evidence of ongoing torture of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.