UK in Push to Deport Asylum Seekers
The UK is racing to deport asylum seekers as the Brexit transition period nears its end. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is racing to ramp up removal operations, with three deportation flights scheduled for this week.
Two flights will go to Germany and one to France, with possible transfers to Austria, Poland, Spain and Lithuania are planned.
Campaigners opposing the deportations say the have evidence which shows that the cases are being “rushed” through to avoid Patel’s own published policy on identifying trafficking victims.
This latest development comes after Patel labelled those calling for last week’s deportation flight to Jamaica to be halted “do-gooding celebrities”. Victims of the Windrush scandal described Patel’s comments as “deeply insulting and patronising”.
The deportation flights are operating under the EU’s Dublin convention legislation. This legislation allows states to return people to an EU country where they have already made an asylum claim (which the UK currently still has the right to do).
Potential Trafficking and Torture Victims on Flights
Opposition groups who are monitoring the situation say that the Home Office’s plans to remove potential trafficking and torture victims without proper screening is unlawful and breaches a recent interim high court order.
Last month, an interim high court ruling said that the Home Office’s failure to ask basic questions such as “why have you come to the UK” and “please outline your journey to the UK” when conducting screenings was potentially “unlawful” and could lead to a “serious risk of injustice and inevitable harm”.
The Jesuit Refugee Service UK is an international Catholic group, which operates in inside Heathrow immigration detention centres, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth said it had evidence that the Home Office was planning to deport individuals this week who hadn’t been asked such questions.
JSR UK are representing eight asylum seekers who are due to be deported by charter flight this week.
Director of JSR UK, Sarah Teather, said:
“Under cover of Covid and the rush for Brexit, the government are subjecting survivors of trafficking and torture to brutal treatment.”
“Skipping sections of your own due process to avoid listening to details of trafficking that would require a more careful approach to the person in front of you is staggeringly cynical.”
She went on to say:
“They’ve been told this practice is unacceptable by the high court, yet they continue to rush people through the process regardless, perhaps safe in the knowledge that the most vulnerable and traumatised asylum seekers are struggling to access legal advice in detention right now. It demonstrates a complete disregard for human life and it is a shameful episode.”
Speaking in regards to the deportation flight, a Home Office spokesperson said:
“We remain determined to fix the broken asylum system so that it is firm and fair and make no apology for removing those with no right to remain in the UK.
“All individuals due to be removed have or will have been through a screening interview, which includes updated questions on trafficking, prior to removal. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate.”
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