A report by Diane Taylor for The Guardian.
According to five of those on the plane who were interviewed by the Guardian, many are now living in fear. And after the killings of five peopledeported from the UK to Jamaica since March last year, they say some are in hiding because they are worried they could be next.
It has been rumoured that one man who was on the flight has been killed. Another person told the Guardian he was shot at several times but survived. He said he was ambushed in a shop days after arriving back in Jamaica by a group of armed men he knew from when he previously lived there.
He said he was shocked by how common weapons seemed to be on the streets. “People walking down the street with a gun is as common a sight as someone walking down the street in London carrying a bottle of water,” the man said.
He added that he was desperately missing his two children in the UK and would like to try to challenge his deportation, but cannot afford to pay British legal fees. Cases such as his are beyond the scope of legal aid.
“I need to get out of Jamaica,” he said. “It is never safe here. Every day I hear about someone else who is in danger. Sometimes there are nine murders a week here.”
The men say intense publicity about the charter flight and the fact that their faces appeared in Jamaican media after the flight arrived in Kingston has further increased the risks. Many have lived a large part of their lives in the UK and some have strong British accents, which they say further identifies them.
One man who was on the February charter flight and is living in hiding said: “I’m too scared to leave the house. I left Jamaica when I was 14 and lived in the UK for 25 years before I was deported. This has always been a violent country, but things have got much worse. Nowadays it affects everyone. Things are so bad here that even the police are scared.”
Another man on the charter flight has serious health problems and is distraught at the enforced separation from his wife and young children. “Right at this moment, I am scared for my life,” he said. “I don’t want people to know where I am. Does the British government want a generation of children like mine to grow up without their fathers because we will all end up shot dead in Jamaica?
“Deportation rules prevent us returning to the UK for 10 years. By that time, all of my kids’ childhood will be gone.”
A young man who was on the February charter flight and has lived most of his life in the UK said he rarely ventured further than the balcony of where he is staying for fear of being shot. He said he had deleted all social media from his phone as he feared it could make him a target for gangs. “My life is not safe here. My entire family is in the UK. It’s a breach of my human rights to deport me here,” he said.
Another deportee, who says he was pressured into returning voluntarily to Jamaica weeks before the charter flight, after being given a non-custodial sentence for personal possession of drugs, knew some of the deportees who have been murdered in the past few months and fears he might be next.
“My grandfather came to the UK on the Windrush boat; my kids are British. The way the Home Office breaks up families is unjust. I know there are guys here who would like to hurt me. I fear for my life. Even while I’m talking to you on the phone, I can hear shots being fired in the next road. I don’t know how Theresa May can sleep at night,” he said.