Tue | Sep 29, 2020

More deportees from UK expected soon

Published:Friday | January 31, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Asif Ahmad, United Kingdom high commissioner to Jamaica.
Asif Ahmad, United Kingdom high commissioner to Jamaica.

In about two weeks, Jamaica is to receive another batch of deported migrants (deportees) from the United Kingdom (UK).

Unlike in the past, persons who will be aboard the specially arranged charter flight are not immigration offenders.

UK High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad indicated that they are all people who have served prison sentences in the UK beyond 12 months, per the criteria for deportation under British law.

In February last year, 29 deported migrants arrived and were processed at the Harman Barracks detention centre in Kingston.

Ahmad said the number of deportees will not be dissimilar to the number that arrived in 2019.

Speaking to journalists at his Trafalgar Road offices in St Andrew yesterday, Ahmad said he was unable to provide the numbers expected to be flown to the island as the final tally could not be arrived at due to the legal recourse afforded to individuals notified that they are to be deported.

“[Deportation] is not some sort of unique punishment designed for Jamaica. [It is] also applied to other countries. But because we are unable at the moment to use commercial flights to bring these people over, that’s why we have the charter flights,” said Ahmad.

“If it was possible to put people on a flight to Jamaica and they just come back, we would be more than happy for that.”

He pointed out that as each person is given notification that they should prepare for deportation and report back to the detention centre, their lawyers are immediately on the case.

“We have always followed the process of early notification to the Jamaican Government, both in London, through the high commissioner, and over here, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also the Ministry of National Security, which are involved as the implementing agencies.”

Ahmad noted that deportation of time-served offenders was not unique to the UK and that the same actions are taken by countries including the United States and Canada, which he said send home more Jamaicans than the UK.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com