The government is under pressure over its deportation policy after it was revealed that at least five people have been killed in Jamaica in the past year after being expelled from the UK by the Home Office.
The men had been sent back to Jamaica despite strict rules prohibiting deportations to countries in which an individual’s life may be in danger. Other returnees have stated that they fear for their lives.
The Guardian says the news will “put pressure on Home Office to justify resumption of deportation charter flights” which were suspended following the Windrush scandal.
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Owen Clarke, 62, was shot and killed by armed men on 23 February. Dewayne Robinson, 37, was murdered on 4 March 2018. Alphonso Harriott, 56, was killed on 29 March. Paul Mitchell, 50, was fatally stabbed on 31 December at the grocery store at which he worked. Hugh Bennett, 48, was stabbed to death on 31 December.
Although some of the men had convictions for violent and drug-related offences, a lawyer insisted that the government’s human rights obligations were not dependent on past behaviour.
Naga Kandiah, of MTC & Co, said: “The Home Office’s own guidance recognises the high level of crime there due to organised gangs. Nobody is saying that these men had not committed crimes, but it is a clear breach of human rights legislation to send them back to a country where their life could be in serious danger.”
Gracie Bradley, policy and campaigns manager at the human rights group Liberty, said it is “incredibly disturbing” that the government “continues to pursue deportations at the expense of its human rights obligations, which stipulate that people must not be deported to situations where they face threats to their life, torture or ill-treatment”.
Jamaica has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world: last year, there were 1,287 murders, about 47 per 100,000 population. In the UK, there were 726 homicides in 2017-18 – 12 per million of the population.
One man who was on a flight chartered by the Home Office from the UK to Jamaica said the situation is so violent there that “even the police are scared”.
A spokesman at the Home Office said: “We only return those with no legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders. Individuals are only returned to their country of origin when the Home Office and courts deem it is safe to do so.
“Should the Home Office receive any specific allegations that a returnee has experienced ill-treatment on return to their country of origin, these would be investigated in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
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