Gonsalves endorses Chastanet’s statement on ‘criminal deportation’

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(St Lucia News Online) St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has received support from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on his statement about criminal deportation.

Gonsalves told Barbados Today that he was pleased that Chastanet 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.

Prime Ministers Allen Chastane and Ralph Gonsalves
Prime Ministers Allen Chastane and Ralph Gonsalves

The Vincentian leader also noted that while some of the deportees were law-abiding, there were those who engaged in criminal activities, 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 told Barbados Today.

Chastanet has said that the United States government is contributing to regional crime by deporting criminals back to their countries of origin.

He was also quoted as stating that 800 criminals were deported to Saint Lucia in one year.

But United States Embassy responded to Chastanet’s statement which was made on the sidelines of the recently held CARICOM heads of government meeting, stating that the US is in partnership with Eastern Caribbean governments, is committed to strengthening security in the region.

“As evidence of this commitment, the United States government steadily increased funding for regional security since President Obama launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2009,” a statement from the embassy read.

The US also corrected Chastanet’s statistics, noting that the total number of deportees returned to Saint Lucia in the last five years was less than 100.  In 2015, there were only eight such cases, refuting the numbers quoted by Chastanet.

However, Gonsalves’ statement was prompted by an issue involving a convicted murderer, Arleigh Hector James, a Vincentian national being returned home from Barbados.

The Barbados Today said James was released early 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 on May 1, 1994.

His son Ashley King, who was 13-years-old at the time, escaped death by hiding beneath a bed.

The Barbadian newspaper said Gonsalves did not link the calls for James’ deportation to the issue of criminal deportees from the United States and other developed countries.

 

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