Jamaica Observer, KINGSTON, Jamaica — Despite the likelihood of strong family ties, data obtained from the United Kingdom’s Home Office show that people from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries appear to be disproportionately targeted for deportation from the UK if they commit crimes.

This is according to a detailed report in The Guardian newspaper which highlighted that it only obtained the information from the Home Office after a yearlong freedom of information battle.

And reports have emerged that another group of Jamaicans will be deported from the UK in August.

“One pressure group said the high percentage of Jamaican nationals deported was particularly glaring given their greater likelihood of having family ties in the UK, and warned that it could further erode the trust of people affected by the Windrush scandal,” the report said.

Of note is that nationals from Ghana and Nigeria are also removed significantly more often than the overall average, the figures show. It said another set of controversial Home Office chartered deportation flights to both countries are expected next month.

Campaigners also expressed alarm after the statistics showed particularly high levels of people deported to Albania and Vietnam, which have notable issues with human trafficking connected to organised crime.

Under the UK Borders Act 2007, foreign nationals who are jailed for a single offence for at least 12 months will normally be considered for deportation on their release, with exceptions under human rights rules – for example, having children in the UK, and for people who have been trafficked.

The reports said a comparison of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Home Office data between 2015 and 2020 showed that once people from European Economic Area countries were excluded, as they are not covered by the act, an average of 65 per cent of overseas nationals jailed for at least 12 months were deported.

For Jamaican nationals, this proportion rose to 75 per cent, however, despite the much greater likelihood of their having significant ties to the UK. For other former British colonies in the Caribbean, such as Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia, the rates were higher still.

The statistics also showed that 90 percent of Nigerian nationals were deported, and 76 percent of those from Ghana. For Albanians, the rate was 90 percent and for Vietnamese nationals 84 percent.

According to the newspaper, the Home Office initially refused to provide the data, claiming that to do so would be “likely to prejudice diplomatic relations between the UK and a foreign government”, and could hamper the operation of immigration controls.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, chair of the Windrush National Organisation, told the newspaper that he was dispirited but not surprised by the statistics. “This bears out what we’ve been saying for a very long time – that particularly Jamaicans have disproportionately fallen foul of immigration regulations”.

“I believe the British government is disregarding family lives. I understand people have committed crimes, but they are being punished twice – they have served their time in prison, many have gone back to their families and children, some have spent years out of prison, and then they’re deported.”

Jaddoo said the disproportionality risked further alienating people from Windrush communities: “We’re talking here about trust and confidence, about people being able to come forward. People are still worried.”

Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, which campaigns over deportation flights, said: “The Home Office claims its deportation system is not discriminatory, but these statistics reveal the truth. As we’ve long suspected, black-majority, former British colonies like Nigeria,  Ghana and Jamaica are targeted, along with countries where trafficking is prevalent, like Albania and Vietnam.

“How are these decisions made? Are these the easy targets for a department that cares little for black lives and trafficking survivors?”

The report noted that deportations, particularly to Jamaica, have become an increasingly contentious issue in recent months. It highlights that some of those removed have lived in the UK since they were children. Under a deal agreed last December, between the UK and Jamaica, the Home Office will no longer remove Jamaican nationals who first moved to the UK before the age of 12.