THE DEPORTATION INDUSTRY
TEXT FROM FLYER PREPARED IN 2003
ARE YOU SUPPORTING THE DEPORTATION BUSINESS?
Today we are trying to inform as many people as possible who are involved with air travel -- tourists and passengers, employees, and others -- about the sordid and tragic reality of the deportation industry.
According to the United Nations, at least 150 million people move across national borders every year. This worldwide reality of migration is due to a variety of interrelated factors war, militarization, unemployment, poverty, famine and violence. The right to asylum from persecution is an international human right, recognized in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust. Instead of humane and just responses to this reality, various states, including Canada, have implemented policies that aim to scapegoat and marginalize migrants and refugees, and that render other human beings vulnerable, exploitable and illegal.
In Canada, statistics show a decrease in the percentage of refugee claimants accepted every year, a result of state policies of criminalization of immigrant communities and mass deportations. In the current political climate, Canada is attempting to harmonize border policies with the US; yet the US has one of the worst refugee-determinant systems in the world, falling short of international law standards (according to UN reports), making gender-based persecution such as domestic violence, forced prostitution, honour crimes inadmissible.
The airline industry has been complicit in this process, making profits through their involvement in the deportation business. Every day, many major airline companies -- including Air Canada, KLM, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Swissair, Royal Air Moroc and others -- are involved in making money by deporting human beings, many of whom are refugees fleeing violent situations. The deportation industry is highly privatized and very expensive. The high cost of deporting refugees has made governments look for cheap' solutions by relying on deportation deals with aviation companies.
Often, deported individuals and families are handcuffed, and at times they are drugged. Many individuals have died due to their treatment during deportations from Europe. On 16 January 2003, Mariame Getu Hagos, a 25-year-old Somalian national, died after being taken ill on board an aircraft from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Before take-off he reportedly made efforts to resist departure and, according to the Interior Ministry, was restrained by the "customary techniques". It is not, however, what these techniques involved. Shortly afterwards he collapsed and was taken to a hospital, where he died two days later.
Past campaigning experience has shown that aviation companies can be forced to back down on the issue of deportation. In the past there are some examples from Belgium, Sabena, France Air Afrique and Switzerland Swiss Air, but all these companies have started anew with deportations.
There is a worldwide movement of resistance to deportations, and unjust immigration and refugee policies; these movements are led by immigrants and refugees themselves. We ask for your solidarity with the courageous actions of migrants worldwide, who are struggling for better lives.
Actions you can take to help stop deportations:
* If you are an employee at an airline that engages in deportations, pressure your company through your union to stop the practice of deportations. Various union efforts in Europe have been successful.
* Ask your airline if your flight involves a deportation; tell them you object.
* If you witness a deportation, or know of airlines that are routinely engaging in deportations, please let us know.
* Usually, deported individuals or families are kept at the back of commercial flights. If you suspect a deportation is happening on your flight, you can stand up before take off, and ask that the deportation not occur. This procedure has successfully stopped deportations in the past, since pilots will not take off if a passenger is standing, and many passengers and airline employees do not wish to be complicit in the unjust practices of governments. (Airline companies are directly responsible for the ill treatment of deportees by their own security personnel. This is the outcome of the 1963 Tokyo Agreement which regulates responsibilities on board of aircraft: as soon as the planes doors shut, the captains of the aircraft are responsible for forceful measures taken on board. The consequences are manifold. In case of the injury or even killing of a passenger at the hands of accompanying police officers, the legal responsibility under civil law depends on the pilot and the employer of the pilot. This is because the legal norms that guide the responsibility of the State for damage caused during sovereign actions do not apply anymore as there is no national jurisdiction. )