On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, a charter flight with thirteen (13) Jamaican born Involuntarily Returned Migrants (IRMs) arrived at the Normal Manley International Airport from the United Kingdom. The individuals were removed pursuant to having met the criteria for removal set out in the UK Borders ACT of 2007.
The return of the IRMs is a routine process that is guided by agreements between Jamaica and our bilateral partner countries. The government is mindful of the heightened sensitivities in respect of IRMs from the UK in particular. For this reason, diplomatic engagements between the Jamaican and UK governments have always sought to ensure that the process is one that takes into account these sensitivities and in particular any remaining legal processes that could provide for exemptions for any of those persons.
The information available to the Government of Jamaica is that the IRMs were allowed to exhaust all legal remedies and recourse available to them prior to their departure. This resulted in only 13 IRMs being returned to Jamaica today, notwithstanding the larger number of persons initially proposed. We are informed that no Windrush victims or persons eligible for compensation under the Windrush Scheme were included among those removed, and that factors such as the right to family life and issues around trafficking in persons, which the Government of Jamaica also takes seriously, were taken into account.
Furthermore, from a humanitarian perspective, an agreement was also reached with the UK Government that no one who arrived in the UK before the age of 12 years would be among the persons removed on this flight.
The Government of Jamaica continues to encourage Jamaicans overseas to abide by the laws of their country of residence and to have their immigration status regularized if they wish to remain permanently in those countries.
At the same time, we also have an obligation to receive Jamaican citizens who fail to meet the criteria for remaining in those countries. It is in this context that we also receive Jamaicans who are removed from other countries. The charter flights from the United Kingdom are no different.
The Government of Jamaica remains committed to the safe and orderly reintegration and rehabilitation of Jamaican nationals deported from the UK and elsewhere, and to ensuring that strengthened mechanisms are put in place to that end. Taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic, precautionary measures were put in place to ensure that the necessary protocols were followed, at both ends, to protect both the IRMs and the Jamaican population. This includes testing and observation of the mandatory quarantine imperatives on arrival in Jamaica.