Academic journal article Social Justice

Rights and Reintegrating Deported Migrants for National Development: The Jamaican Model

Academic journal article Social Justice

Rights and Reintegrating Deported Migrants for National Development: The Jamaican Model

Article excerpt

In May 2014, 32 international scholars in law, human rights, philosophy, and the social sciences met in conference at Boston College to fine tune a 33-article Convention, drafted by the College's Law School Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, on the rights of forcibly expelled and/or deported persons. The Convention's purpose was to reaffirm that all persons, including deported persons, and persons undergoing deportation proceedings, "are entitled to due process of law, equal treatment, freedom from discrimination, and the protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms under the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other widely accepted regional and international human rights instruments." Once finalized, the Convention is to be submitted to state governments that deport large numbers of persons, as well as to governments that receive such persons. The expectation is that the Convention will become part of state policy. The emphasis here is on affirming the rights of deported persons to full reintegration in receiving "home" countries. The article discusses in considerable detail the work of a deported migrants' organization in Jamaica.

Keywords: deportee, deported migrants, human rights, reintegration, development, Jamaica

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EACH YEAR, THE UNITED STATES, THE UNITED KINGDOM (UK), AND Canada together deport hundreds of thousands of people. Under President Barak Obama, US deportations were on track to hit a record two million by the end of 2014--nearly the same number of persons deported between 1892 and 1997 (New York Times 2013). In 2013, 50,741 persons were deported from the UK, or they departed voluntarily after initiation of removal proceedings against them, for an increase of 15 percent over the number for 2012, and doubling the number reported for 2011. (1) And Canada has deported more than 10,000 persons every year since 2004. (2)

Although a sizeable minority of the deported may have committed in their host country a violent crime, or crimes, upward of three-quarters of them were deported for nonviolent offenses, like jumping subway turnstiles in New York City, or trying to stay one step ahead of immigration enforcers (Human Rights Watch 2009; Headley et al. 2005; Welch 2002, 2006). Among the felons targeted for deportation have been persons whose crime was forging documents to indicate that they were in the designated host country legally; others were targeted for reentering after having been deported once already.

The countries of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana annually receive proportionately the largest numbers of Caribbean nationals deported from the UK, the United States, and Canada. Between 1990 and 2005, report Barnes and Seepersad (2008), Jamaica received a total of 19,418 of its migrant citizens who were deported because they had incurred a "criminal" infraction in the United States; another 3,490 came from Canada and 8,906 came from the UK. In that same period, Trinidad OcTobago received 2,040 Trinigonians from the United States; 218 from Canada; and 72 from the UK. And Guyana received 672 of its nationals from the United States, 22 from Canada, and an unrecorded number from the UK (Great Britain being the erstwhile "mother country" for the three Caribbean nation-states).

Few topics in Caribbean criminal justice and matters dealing with "security" are more contentious than criminal deportation. As the international community recognizes, "it is the right of every nation State to decide who can enter and stay in its territory and under what conditions" (United Nations 2004, cited in World Bank 2007, 81). Yet the belief is widespread that the region's ongoing crime troubles can be tied directly to the activities of "deportees" schooled in crime in the developed North. An extensive study conducted by the World Bank on the crime situation in Jamaica reports, however, "no clear relationship" between the number of deportations and rates of particularly violent crime in the island (World Bank 2007, Ch. …

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