Tonight under the cover of darkness a charter flight deporting up to 50 people to Zimbabwe will leave the UK.
In February the Government issued sanctions against the Zimbabwean government for its human rights violations, criticising what it called “the appalling deaths of Zimbabweans at the hands of government security forces” who “were killed for exercising their right to free speech and peaceful protest”.
At the end of a video announcing the sanctions Dominic Raab said: “Global Britain is a force for good in the world and we will never shy away from defending human rights”.
However, many people on the flight, including a number of BID clients, came to the UK fleeing political persecution and fear for their lives upon return. Following the well documented murder and disappearance of anti-government activists and protesters, those facing deportation this evening are rightly scared for their lives due to the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Some are on hunger strike. Currently the UK Foreign Office advises against all travel to Zimbabwe.
Less than 4 months after announcing sanctions the government met with Zimbabwean officials to agree a deal to deport long-term residents from the UK. A flight that will violate the human rights of many on board and will tear apart families, lives and communities in the UK.
We recently published a report evidencing the long term harm caused to children following the traumatic experience of a parent being detained and/or deported. Every charter flight is a tragedy that traumatises and permanently separates children from their parents.
The Home Office has a history or poor decision making highlighted by the fact people have already been taken of the flight following legal intervention.
Their decisions fail to take into consideration racial biases in the criminal justice system, “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” towards race within the Home Office and the UK’s colonial past reproducing racial trauma and injustice.
This charter flight, by seeking to deport black people who have been in the UK for many years to a former colony represents yet another failure of the British government to reckon with the legacies of empire.