Thursday 18 April, 2019

Britain’s Home Secretary accused of lying about Jamaican deportees

Loop file photo of deportees from the UK being processed at the Mobile Reserve in Kingston last year.

Loop file photo of deportees from the UK being processed at the Mobile Reserve in Kingston last year.

Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has been accused of lying when he told his country’s parliament that all of the 29 Jamaicans who were deported to Jamaica on Wednesday, were guilty of “very serious crimes” such as murder and rape.

His comments have been met with condemnation from Members of Parliament, campaigners and the detainees themselves, according to an article in the Independent newspaper.

It has since emerged that one of the deportees, 23-year-old, Chevon Brown was placed on the special charter flight after serving a seven-month sentence for a driving offence. His father Vance, said that was the only crime his son has been convicted of. The elder Brown told the newspaper he felt “sick to his stomach” by the home secretary’s claims.

Vance Brown, 48, who had to arrange for his son to be picked up by a friend in Jamaica, said: “[The government] has got no morals. It is so harsh. How can they say that about someone else’s child when it’s a lie?

“Chevon was caught in the bee’s mouth – the belly of the bee – only for a driving offence. So when Javid said it was murderers and rapists on the plane, which made me sick to my stomach. It’s deplorable."

“He misled the public. It’s very hard to digest that, coming from the home secretary,” Vance Brown added.

In a heated debate on Tuesday, Javid claimed all the deportees were convicted of “very serious crimes ... like rape and murder, firearms offences and drug-trafficking”.

But the Home Office has since offered a clarification which led to a flood of criticism. On Wednesday it said that of the 29 people deported, just one had been found guilty of murder, while 14 had been convicted of drug offences and one was jailed for dangerous driving.

Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid via the Associated Press.

About eight detainees narrowly avoided deportation after they were given a last-minute reprieve and said they felt they had been “labelled” for crimes they did not commit, while relatives of deportees expressed fear that people in Jamaica would give their loved-ones a hostile reception because they had all been dubbed as serious criminals, the Independent report said.

Labour MP David Lammy urged Javid to apologise, accusing him of “deporting first and asking questions later “without considering whether the public interest in the removals was greater than the harm caused to those deported and their families.”

Lammy’s position is borne out in a statement made by Vance Brown about his son. He said: “People gravitate to what they hear from the home secretary here. They’re going to believe that,” he said. ”It creates a big risk to him. He doesn’t know what to do, who to go to. He’s saying, should I just give up on life? He was in tears.”

One of those granted a last-minute reprieve was Owen Haisely, who has lived in the UK for 41 years and has three young British children. The 45-year-old, who was convicted for a domestic abuse incident in 2015 for which he spent a year in jail, said he felt “hurt” by the home secretary’s claims.

Labour MP David Lammy

“They’re labelling us. When their only answer is to falsely claim that we are all murderers, rapists, traffickers, it says a lot about how the government operates,” said the Manchester resident.

“I know I did wrong with my domestic incident. But I’m not a repeat offender. I’ve gone to prison, done my sentence, done the rehabilitation. I’m not going to re-offend.”

The former DJ, who had been sharing a cell with Chevon Brown in Harmondsworth detention centre when guards removed him on Wednesday, said of the 23-year-old: “[Chevon] should still be here. He was labelled a murderer, a rapist, a trafficker.

“And he only committed a driving offence. He wanted to set up his own business. He’s a positive guy, and he’s only 23. He’s the next generation. He deserves a second chance.”

All of those who were flown to Jamaica had criminal convictions, but all have served their sentences in UK jails and campaigners argue that their removal – which for many means returning alone to a country they left as young children – constitutes a “brutal double punishment”.

Karen Doyle, of campaign group Movement for Justice, said Javid’s remarks were “patently untrue” and “a clear attempt to obfuscate the realities of the people affected and dampen public sympathy and support”.

“At the point when Sajid Javid said in parliament that those to be deported were all serious criminals, stressing murder and rape, it was patently untrue. This kind of ‘dog-whistle’ racist propaganda against immigrants must stop,” she said.

A HomeOffice spokesperson said: “The crimes committed by the individuals include murder, rape and serious violence. The total combined sentence of their crimes is over 150 years’ imprisonment.

“The law requires that we seek to deport foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK. This ensures we keep the public safe.”

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