UK: Charter jets for mass deportations


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The Home Office has started to conduct forced removals in large numbers with the use of charter jets. The information, leaked when the National Coalition of Anti?deportation Campaigns (NCADC) received a call from a Kosovan asylum seeker, whose removal order (which has to specify the date, place and carrier conducting the deportation) simply read “charter flight”. After questions to the Home Office, Independent journalist Ian Burrell learned that the government had been preparing the charter flights for weeks, in an attempt to reach the Home Secretary's desired number of 30,000 deportations by the end of this year. < br >< br > The first known charter flight of forced removals took place on 20 March this year, flying 50 people to Tirana (Albania) and Pristina (Kosovo). A week later, on 27 March, an aircraft left for Kosovo, to deport a yet unknown number of people to Pristina. “This is something on which we can make considerable savings. It's cheaper to charter a plane than keep people in detention centres a month or two”, a Home Office source commented. < br >< br > But campaigners say it is not only the detention centres and legally enforced reliance on the voucher and dispersal system for asylum seekers that is expensive. A forced removal with a scheduled aircraft necessitates at least two “accompanying officers”, who are granted a return ticket. There is also the added advantage of removing forced removals (which are often characterised by violent restraint methods and the use of sedatives), from the public eye and therefore from public criticism. In the last two years, at least four people have died as a result of restraint techniques in other European countries (Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria). In the UK, five people are known to have died in the last eight years during deportation attempts. For more detailed information on deportations on a European level, see or< br >< br >< br >< br >The Independent 27.3.01, NCADC Press Release.

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