The Deportation of Chevon Brown – A Breach of Human Rights?

It can be difficult to find easy to understand examples of the state breaching individual human rights, but the recent deportation of Chevon Brown might just be one such example.

This case study from February 2020 is relevant to the ‘state crime and human right’s topic within the A-level sociology Crime and Deviance module.

In February 2020 Chevon Brown was deported to Jamaica from the United Kingdom.

He had just been released from Prison having served 8 months of a 14 month sentence for danagerous driving and driving with no insurance.

He was 21 when he decided to take his car for a spin, despite being a learner driver with no insurance, and when he saw police, he says he panicked, and sped up, which led to a 5 minutes high speed chase, and he puts his actions down to stupidity, and he’s paid the ultimate price.

Britain has the right to deport foreign citizens who have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, under the UK Borders Act, which came into force in 2007, unless doing so would infringe their human rights, by sending them back to a country where their life would be at threat, for example.

Chevon was 14 when he moved to Britain with his father on a Jamaican Passport. Despite having ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK, he is still technically a Jamaican national, and so the UK had the right to deport him.
The problem is, he no longer has any friends or family in Jaimaica, and his father is remaining in the UK, with his other children.

Since returning to Jamaica, Chevon says he doesn’t feel safe. “I am nervous walking down the street,” he says. “Anything could happen – every day people die here.”

According to UN data, Jamaica had a murder rate of 47 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. In the UK, the rate was 1 per 100,000.

Chevon was deported along with 40 other criminals, many of whom had committed more serious offenses, such as murder, and he says the Jamaican media as labelled them all with the same brush, so it is difficult for him to make friends or find a job.

Sources – The BBC News May 2020.

Sociological Questions to consider about this case study

  1. Is deportation for ‘dangerous driving’ an appropriate punishment?
  2. Given his lack of friends and family in Jamaica, the alleged discrimination he’s facing (due to negative media labeling) and his increased chance of being murdered, did the UK government breach his human rights by deporting him?
  3. Is this deportation an example of institutional racism?
  4. Do you think the original decision to imprison him for 14 months was fair, or just another example of institutional racism?

By contrast you might want to consider this in relation to the case of Anne Sacoolas, the American Diplomat’s Wife who actually killed a British Teenager by driving on the wrong side of the road, fled back to America and is now being protected by the US Government, rather than being deported back to the UK to stand trial.

China’s Persecution of the Uighurs – A Horrible Example of a State Crime

The Chinese government is currently engaged in an ongoing act of cultural genocide against the Uighur Muslims, a minority population within North Western China.

As part of this cultural genocide, 15000 mosques have already been bulldozed and thousands of Uighur Muslims have been rounded up and forced into ‘re-education’ camps (which the Chinese government calls ‘job training’ centers.

In these camps they are forced to renounce their faith and their traditions, and to speak Mandarin Chinese.

The Chinese state has used surveillance technology including facial recognition, mandatory fingerprinting, Iris scans, and routine checks on phones, combined with AI based predictive software to flag up suspects who ‘refuse alcohol’ or who ‘discuss the Koran’.

The camps were constructed following a series of terror attacks in the region, leaked government documents have President Xi dictating his officials to show ‘no mercy’ in the battled against extremists, and that anyone ‘infected’ by extremism requires a painful ‘interventionary treatment’ where their ‘erroneous thinking’ can be eradicated.

Relevance of this to A-level sociology

Firstly, it’s a horrific example of a contemporary state crime – this is a flagrant abuse of the human rights (as ‘protected’ by the United Nations) by the Chinese State.

Secondly, it’s a good example of both the power of the Nation State (China) to abuse people, and the powerlessness other Nation States to do anything about it – pretty much every country on Earth is ignoring this, including Muslim majority countries.

Thirdly, it’s an interesting (and again horrific) example of how surveillance can be used to control people.

Source: The Week, 30 September 2019.

Find out More

This Al Jazeera news article is a useful starting point.

Britain’s recent involvement in torture – a good example of a ‘state crime’

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee It’s been 15 years since allegations first emerged of Britain’s involvement in the torture of those suspected of the 9/11 terror attacks, and earlier this month (July 2018) an official report has finally been released which reveals the ‘true’ extent of Britain’s compliance with the USA’s programme of torture.

uk torture

According to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), Britain’s involvement amounted to at least 13 occasions of British agents witnessing suspects being mistreated and having been informed (but done nothing about) of mistreatment by their foreign counterparts or detainees more than 150 times.

The report found that British agents weren’t directly involved in torture themselves, but the strategy of British intelligence was to ‘outsource’ the interrogation process to those who they knew used ‘enhanced techniques such as stress positions, sleep deprivation and beatings.

The British effectively turned a blind eye to the fact that the USA was in breach of the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. They were so ‘blind’ in fact that they ignored the fact that at one detention centre detainees were kept in containers so small that they could neither stand or lie down, getting around this particular breach of human rights by simply building interrogation portacabins which were large enough to comfortably accommodate the prisoners.

So why did this happen?

Following 9/11 the security and intelligent services were under intense pressure to find and prosecute those responsible, but also to find information which might prevent future terrorist attacks. The problem with using such techniques, however, is that they might well just serve to increase recruitment to the same terrorist networks the authorities are trying to quash.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This seems to be a good example of Britain being involved in a ‘state crime’, also a good example of the extent of barriers to researching powerful actors: it’s taken 15 years for this official report to be conducted, and even this doesn’t tell us the whole story: Theresa May refused permission for four key officers to give evidence on national security grounds, so the true extent of Britain’s complicity in state crime may not surface for many years to come!

Sources: