‘They don’t have to report to anyone’
HEAD of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) Dr Lloyd Barnett yesterday poured cold water on a suggestion by a deportee that the Government monitor Jamaicans with criminal backgrounds who have been involuntarily sent back to the island.
Speaking to the Jamaica Observer by telephone, Dr Barnett, one of the country’s foremost constitutional attorneys, said the Government cannot legally monitor deportees.
“If the person has no crime recorded in Jamaica and no sentence of a Jamaican court, the person is free,” said Barnett.
“We don’t have any legal jurisdiction because of what somebody says abroad, to restrain that person or to restrict their movements or whatever else they might wish to do. They have no legal authority for that,” he added.
As the IJCHR lead puts it, a deportee who has committed a crime overseas is not necessarily determined to pick up where they left off in Jamaica.
“We know that some will, but you can’t just restrain everyone any more than you can a person who has committed a crime in Jamaica and has served his time and is free, unless he is on probation. They are free; they don’t have to report to anyone,” Barnett noted.
He said the issue of deportees having trouble obtaining their national identification cards, tax registration numbers, or any other related documents, is a social problem.
This, he said, is where the Ministry of Labour and Social Security should come in.
“That’s a social issue. You would need social workers to follow up and help them settle in and taken care of,” said the attorney.
On Thursday, Charlie Brown, a Jamaican man who was deported from the United States 16 years ago, in an Observer article, insisted that the Government here accept responsibility for some of the crimes perpetrated by people involuntarily sent back to the country, following the shooting death of two policemen last week, allegedly by a deportee.
Brown, who served in the United States military but was sent back to Jamaica in January 2004, made the point after Detective Corporal Dane Biggs and Constable DeCardo Hylton were shot dead last Friday and two of their colleagues seriously injured, allegedly by Damion Hamilton who was deported from Canada in 2017.
He said, among other things, that the Government has failed to help reintegrate deportees into society, leaving several who have no ties to the island at the mercy of criminal elements.
He also urged the Andrew Holness-led Administration to monitor those returning to the island with a criminal file, and suggested that last Friday’s incident could have been prevented if the Government had a monitoring system in place for deportees with criminal backgrounds.
However, hours after the shooting deaths of the lawmen, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson told journalists during a virtual press conference from Jamaica House that the Jamaica Constabulary Force cannot legally monitor deportees with criminal backgrounds.
Like Barnett, the commissioner stated that once a crime has not been committed or there are no charges laid against an individual, that person is free to go about his business.
“When we detect that they may be involved in criminal activities then they come under scrutiny from our intelligence services,” said Anderson.
He explained that it was intelligence which led the lawmen to Horizon Park in Spanish Town, St Catherine, where Hamilton allegedly lived.
“Clearly, some intelligence led us to this one who was clearly involved in criminal activities and had illegal firearms and that’s why we were there… The monitoring of them is similar [to] you [getting] addresses. You know where they are [but] they are not required by law to come in and say where they are. They are free to go pretty much, unless they do something here in Jamaica that they are wanted for.
“If they join [with] criminal elements in Jamaica then we treat them similarly to all other criminals and we monitor them. We try to find them; we build cases against them,” said the commissioner.
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