KINGSTON –– The Government has made it clear that deportation is not a one-way street, saying Jamaica had deported 405 individuals since January last year — 95 between January and now, and 310 in 2015.
Robert Montague’s Ministry of National Security also revealed in a press statement that the People’s National Party (PNP) Administration had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) in April 2007, under which Jamaica is obligated to accept people being deported from that country.
The ministry’s disclosure came in the wake of last week’s uproar over Britain’s deportation of 42 Jamaicans, some said to have lived nearly all their lives in the UK and have no known relatives here.
Responding apparently to claims that some of the deportees might not be Jamaicans, the security ministry said that in the present circumstances of the 42 Jamaicans who were deported from the United Kingdom on September 7, “all the individuals were duly processed at the JCF Mobile Reserve and a case manager has been assigned to assist in the reintegration process which includes making contact with potential local support as well as overseas family members”.
“The ministry offers its heartfelt appreciation to the staff of the Jamaican High Commission in London for the high levels of professionalism and care in dealing with this matter,” the press statement read.
The ministry said it was not unusual, nor the first time, that Jamaican citizens had been deported by the UK in such large numbers. In 2014, some 40 persons were returned to Jamaica on a charter flight, and since then, persons have been returned to the island on a regular basis.
“The Ministry of National Security acknowledges the sensitive nature of the circumstances, and has always respected the individuals’ rights to be reunited with family and friends away from the glare of publicity. Our practice has always been to afford families to have the space and time to recover from the trauma of this sudden displacement. We call therefore on all Jamaicans to respect this private time because not all the returned Jamaicans wish to have their circumstances revealed,” the statement said.
But the ministry acknowledged that the return of Jamaicans living overseas in this instance “raises interesting questions on human rights and natural justice”. Consequently it would give due consideration to the “various expressions, both by the returned citizens and observers, with respect to this latest deportation, and will where applicable, incorporate views and perspectives in the improvement of its own protocols governing deported persons from Jamaica”.
“The Ministry is also watching and waiting on the outcomes of the legal challenges in the United Kingdom and will lend support where necessary.”
Further, the Government “concede and admit” that the behaviour of some Jamaicans had not always been in keeping with Jamaica’s values, and it urged all nationals at home and abroad to obey the laws of the land.
“Equally and importantly, in our finest traditions, we urge all Jamaicans to keep in touch with family, friends and communities
. . . . We also wish to thank the families and friends of the returned Jamaicans, as well as non-governmental organisations which have rallied in support of these persons as they seek to reintegrate into the Jamaican society.
“Regardless of colour, creed, circumstances or station in life, we wish to assure all Jamaicans that Jamaica will be that “abiding city” for its sons and daughters wherever they may be or whatever they would have done, because Jamaica is still the land that we love,” the ministry said.