Editorial

Dealing with the issue of deportees

Sunday, December 05, 2010    

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Statistics from the US Department of Homeland Security reveal that 14,006 criminal deportees were sent to Jamaica between 1999 and 2008.

The fact that deportees are also sent from Britain and Canada means that Jamaica receives as many as 2,000 criminal deportees per year.

Making the generous assumption that half are guilty only of immigration offences, such as overstating their visa or illegal entry, then the remaining 1,000 can be classified as criminals. With 365 days in the year, this amounts to almost three new criminals returning to Jamaica per day. No wonder then, that the level of crime here is intolerable. For these criminals, once here, are free to walk the streets simply because they have not been convicted of a crime in Jamaica.

Every so often we debate the pernicious effects of criminal deportees on violent crime in Jamaica. Nearly all properly researched studies conclude that there is direct casuality between the number of criminal deportees and the level of crime here.

While we recognise the right of the US, Britain and Canada to deport non-citizens to their countries of origin, we cannot ignore the fact that it is proving very harmful to the receiving nations, especially Jamaica where the level of crime is already excessive and difficult to manage.

Our experience has been that deportees with criminal convictions introduce new techniques, skills and contacts acquired in more sophisticated jurisdictions with stringent policing. This injection of foreign expertise contributes to an upgrade of local competence in crime.

In addition, those deportees who have been sly enough to find their way back to the countries from which they were ejected, usually resume plying their criminal trade while utilising the contacts they have developed in their home countries.

The frightening upshot is an expansion and strengthening of the networks of transnational crime, evidenced by developments in narcotics trafficking.

Since we cannot prevent other states from deporting Jamaicans found guilty of criminal offences in their jurisdictions, we suggest that our law enforcement authorities formulate a more structured and, if necessary, aggressive mechanism to monitor those deportees who were convicted of violent crimes abroad.

For while we accept that there are some people who — having paid their debt to society — divest themselves of their criminal past, there are many others who are unable or are unwilling to make the kind of change that could result in them becoming productive members of the society.

At the same time, the Government needs to continue pushing the point to our overseas partners that it is unfair for them to keep deporting people who left Jamaica when they were toddlers. Because in most cases, they have no family support structure here on which to depend for rehabilitation.

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