(THE GUARDIAN/JAMAICA GLEANER) — The Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom has called for a suspension of deportations to Jamaica until the Home Office has published its investigation into the Windrush scandal.
At an emotional meeting of relatives of people who were deported to Jamaica earlier this month, held at the Jamaican High Commission in London, the high commissioner Seth George Ramocan said he was particularly concerned about the deportation of people who had lived in the UK since they were children and also the removal of parents who had young children living in Britain.
Listening to stories he described as “heart-rending” from families of those deported, the high commissioner said he was concerned about the “dignity and the human rights of the individuals earmarked for deportation”.
“If these are people who have lived here since they were children, they have no connection, no relatives, no one to take care of them in Jamaica, then this for me is a human rights matter,” Ramocan said.
“It is not just the people who are being deported, it is their children, it is their families. Are we acting intelligently, are we creating another set of problems when we do that?”
The high commission had called a meeting of about 45 relatives of those deported and also those who were still detained in immigration removal centres having escaped deportation, to hear their accounts of how people had been put on a charter flight earlier this month.
The high commissioner was hoping to understand the details of how the Jamaicans had been treated, as part of an investigation, to inform a discussion with the Jamaican government about how they cooperate with the Home Office on future deportations.
Initially, there was a list of 50 people scheduled to be on the February flight, which the home secretary said included murderers and rapists.
In the days and hours before the flight, about 20 people were given a last-minute reprieve and only 28 men and one woman were deported.
Half of those flown to Jamaica had drug convictions, while one had committed a dangerous driving offence.