Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has defended Barbados’ right to deport convicted murderer Arleigh Hector James back to his homeland.
James received an early release from prison last week after serving 22 years of a life sentence for beheading his 35-year-old wife Debra James and slashing his 14-year-old stepdaughter Sabrina to death in a savage cutlass attack back on May 1, 1994. His son Ashley King, who was 13-years-old at the time, escaped death by hiding beneath a bed.
Since James’, release residents of Newbury, St George, where he previously lived, have made it clear they do not want him back, and there have been growing calls for the 59-year-old to be sent back to St Vincent and the Grenadines, where he was born.
Gonsalves would not discuss the issue in any detail, saying while he was aware of the case, he had not heard from the authorities here.
However, the Vincentian leader told Barbados TODAY Bridgetown had the right to deport James if authorities wished to do so.
While Gonsalves did not link the calls for James’ deportation to the vexing issue of criminal deportees from the United States and other developed countries, he said this was a perennial concern of regional leaders.
Just last week attorney-at-law and Opposition politician Edmund Hinkson made the connection in an address to prospective job trainees at the Weston Community Centre in St James.
“When Canada and America send back people who serve their time – Barbadians who served their time in jails in Canada or America – we vex with them. Now we doing the same thing,” Hinkson said at the time.
The issue of criminal deportees had come under the spotlight earlier when St Lucian prime minister Allen Chastanet voiced concerns over the impact it was having on crime in the Caribbean.
Gonsalves told Barbados TODAY he was pleased that the new St Lucian prime minister had joined other Caribbean leaders who, over the years, had complained that the practice was hurting the region.
“The problem is that when they deport them they don’t give us their full particulars, what are the antecedents, what are the details of the crime for which they were sentenced and then deported; what their record is so that we can do a better job of reincorporating them into society. And of course we get no resources in respect of having them to come back into our society in some structured, organized way,” Gonsalves stated.
The prime minister also noted that while some of the deportees were law-abiding, there were those who engaged in criminal activity, either directly or indirectly.
“When you look at it, of course there are some deportees who are recidivists when they come back to their home countries they commit crimes. Some of them do not but you can’t only measure it by those who do not. You have to look at what is their influence in that subculture of crime even though they themselves are not committing [crimes] themselves, the advice is to pass on. And police forces will tell you that.
“Some of them of course, realize the error of their ways and in a new environment try to pick up the pieces of their lives, but a lot of them don’t do that,” Gonsalves said.