Show caption A protest against deportation plans in 2020. Deportation flights to Jamaica are particularly controversial because some of those due to fly are descendants of members of the Windrush generation. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Home Office Man with severe learning disabilities faces being deported to Jamaica Judge has found 34-year-old, who needs support with basic tasks, would ‘struggle to survive’ if deported Diane Taylor Sun 15 May 2022 15.22 BST Share on Facebook
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Urgent legal action has been launched to halt the deportation to Jamaica of a man with such severe learning disabiilties that a judge found he would “struggle to survive” if sent back to the country of his birth.
The 34-year-old needs support with basic tasks from his mother and his sister, and is a suspected victim of exploitation. The case has parallels with that of Osime Brown, the young autistic man who faced deportation to Jamaica but won the right to remain in the UK after legal intervention.
He is among dozens facing deportation to Jamaica on a Home Office flight on Wednesday 18 May. But lawyers lodged emergency legal action on his behalf on Friday evening, hoping to scupper his removal.
The man currently facing deportation has one custodial sentence: he was convicted of possessing a loaded handgun with intent to endanger life in August 2014 and handed a seven-year sentence. However, he gave evidence saying he was “forced to own” the gun after being told to get into a car with three other men. The sentencing judge accepted that he was not a ringleader in the crime and said he may have been “exploited by one other or others”. He has not committed any subsequent crimes.
Numerous psychological and other assessments have identified that he has significant learning disabilities, struggles with reading and writing and is unable to live independently. He also has a congenital heart defect. A prison psychiatrist found that he was “easily led and vulnerable to exploitation”.
The judge who ruled in his favour found he would “struggle to survive” in Jamaica due to his learning disabilities. “I am not satisfied he would be capable of living independently. His size and learning disabilities render him liable to bullying and abuse. He is a vulnerable person,” the judge added.
His distraught mother is trying to get his deportation halted. She says her son calls her many times each day from the detention centre in a state of panic and confusion.
“People would be shocked to know that human beings are being treated the way my son is being treated,” she said. “People with mental health problems need to be free; being in a detention centre will be very bad for him. He has always lived with me and is unable to live by himself. I feel like a fish out of water without him. Now he’s been detained, I don’t even want to go into the kitchen to do any cooking because I always cooked everything for him.”
She added that she believed he did not fully understand his predicament, and was struggling to eat regularly without her support. He was stressed and bewildered by his stay, she said, which was reminiscent of his prison sentence – throughout which he struggled enormously.
Deportation flights to Jamaica are particularly controversial because some of those due to fly are Windrush descendants. Many have been here since childhood and no longer have links with the country of their birth. Numbers on the last four Jamaica deportation flights have decreased steadily – from 17 to 13 to seven and then four.
The man is currently being held in an immigration removal centre and has said that if he was sent to Jamaica he would not be able to leave the airport because he would have nowhere to go.
In the year ending September 2021, the number of forced removals were at a record low of 2,380, a 35% yearly drop. In 2004, the Home Office deported 21,425 people. But there are indications that the Home Office is trying to boost the number now that pandemic travel restrictions have been lifted, with offshoring to Rwanda and the first deportation charter flight to Iraq for many years taking place at the end of the month.
Karen Doyle, of Movement For Justice, which is campaigning against the deportations to Jamaica, said: “A judge rightly concluded that this man could not survive in Jamaica. Anyone spending 15 minutes with him could see that.”
She added: “That the Home Office would relentlessly pursue this vulnerable man is testament to their cruelty. When Priti Patel talks about deporting ‘dangerous criminals’, we know there are people like Osime Brown, like this man and countless others just like them who go through this torture.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under the UK Borders Act 2007, the government is obligated to seek to remove non-British citizens convicted of an offence in the United Kingdom and sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment. Each case is considered on its individual merits and we will consider any evidence which suggests removal is not appropriate carefully before removal action is taken.”