Campaign group End Deportations created a subvertising campaign to raise awareness of mass deportations.
First published in The Canary on 25 January 2017:
End Deportations told The Canary that it regularly witnesses unjust cases. This includes people who have had no legal access or very limited access through a legal drop-in surgery in detention. Some have been placed on the flight in their wheelchairs because they were physically unfit to fly. The group said:
The Nigerian High Commission have a list of criteria detainees need to meet to be able to be removed to Nigeria, but they break the criteria all the time. People who were deported on the infamous September 2016 charter flight to Jamaica were taken to a country few actually knew anything about, having lived all or most of their lives in the UK. The majority are staying on distant family’s sofas or in homeless shelters, unemployed and far away from their families.
End Deportations says that those deported have partners, children and friends in the UK. It also says that forced and mass deportations target particular communities. They are not based on individual cases. At a cost to the public of £250,000 per flight, it seems the Home Office needs to fill the seats. MfJ noted:
That means finding people who can be deported to countries where the UK has a deportation agreement – Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Albania and Jamaica.
The group said this ultimately means that officials can deport people at any stage of the asylum process, “rather than ensuring that the appropriate legal avenues and requirements have been exhausted and adhered to”:
For example, a friend of ours called George was forcibly removed last July, in spite of having more than a week left to appeal the refusal of his EEA application to remain in the UK, with his pregnant partner.
The Unity Centre, a not-for-profit group that supports asylum seekers in Glasgow, agrees. It has been in contact with many detainees who receive tickets for the charter flights but lack legal representation. Many are told they cannot access legal advice in the detention centre until the day before the charter flight.