We are aware that there is a charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana scheduled for TUESDAY 22nd March at 22.30pm (PVT 090) organised by the Home Office and accepted by the Nigerian government, departing from an undisclosed airport in the UK.
Herding individuals from these hand picked countries onto huge planes for mass deportations every month needs to stop. Many individuals have ongoing immigration cases, many cannot afford to pay the huge legal fees to regularise their stay and most have families, children, partners and strong ties to the UK. For this current flight there have been reports of individuals who are being forcibly removed with severe health conditions who are awaiting treatment in the UK. Charter flights enable individuals with extremely convincing reasons for being in the UK to be removed en mass with very few questions being asked.
Each flight cost the UK at least £250,000 as recently reported in the media, and they intend to get as many people on the flight as possible, by any means possible. That means separating families if need be, picking on vulnerable people and taking advantage of the sick. When charter flights are used there is a list of ‘reserve’ detainees who will be put on the flight if others manage to take legal action to be removed from the charter or are too unwell to fly. This practice means that individuals may be on the flight unlawfully due to having ongoing claims and/or legal avenues to pursue.
We are also aware of a charter flight leaving Belgium for Nigeria too: http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/new-collective-deportation-to-nigeria/
CALL FOR ACTION
Based on previous charter flights we have good reason to believe that the airline of the charter flight is Titan Airways.
Details for contact (for how to phone an airline: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/fighting-deportation/)
Tel: 01279 680616 (24 hour)
THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT
Campaign groups such as Movement For Justice have been putting pressure on the Nigerian government, who are able to refuse to accept these flights. Detainees in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre wrote a statement calling out the UK and Nigerian governments and demanding action:
Nigeria has given the UK government the authorisation and access to land their chartered flights at the naval base in Lagos near Murtala airport where deportees are dumped off like cargo. They are dropped off and made to go through the frightening, degrading and humiliating process where the Nigerian immigration officers demand bribes to let them go more easily. This is after the officers have pocketed the money Home Office give them to pass onto deportees for transport to their final destination in Nigeria. £150 per head is a nice earner for the immigration officers in Nigeria. So why would they stop colluding with the British government? Why would they check that the British government has acted lawfully in deporting people that are medically unfit to travel? Why would they want to stop these chartered flights?
Like Corporate Watch, we call this charter flight collective expulsion, as there has not been time to assist each individual sufficiently with their case to effectively prevent their removal on this particular flight. The Home Office prioritise filling up the spaces on the flight over an individual’s case, writing to detainees facing forced removal: “As you are to removed on a specially chartered flight to Nigeria, the Home Office may decide not to defer removal in the face of a last minute threat or application to seek permission for a judicial review.” This statement demonstrates that the Home Office do not prioritise an individual’s right to seek asylum, or their right to a life in the UK – rather they prioritise filling up seats on a charter flight – which we say is collective expulsion.
The Unity Centre