Alarming deportees development

Guyana Chronicle
December 19, 1999

GUYANA has long enjoyed the friendliest of ties with the United States and Canada and Guyanese will not easily forget their assistance, with other Western nations, in the process that saw the eventual restoration of democracy here in October 1992.

Both countries continue to be key players in the consolidation of democracy and the economic reconstruction process and for this Guyana will be long thankful.

The cooperation extends to the fight against drugs, with Guyana committed to helping stem the flow to the insatiable markets in the United States for cocaine and other drugs by diverting scarce resources to the battle.

The United States and Canada, however, persist in a backward policy that smacks of bullyism of the worst kind - dumping unwanted deportees in a callous manner and often without justification.

The news yesterday that seven deportees seemed to have been shipped in here from Canada with little regard for routine procedures only reinforced this perception among local officials.

We await the findings of the top level probe we understand is under way into this incident but it is time that the relevant authorities in the U.S. and Canada rethink their entire approach to the issue of deportees to Guyana and some other countries in the Caribbean.

Caribbean leaders raised the issue with President Bill Clinton in Barbados in 1997 but the dumping of deportees has from all indications increased since then, creating serious security and social problems for these already overburdened countries.

Local and regional law enforcement officials have drawn firm links between the spate of violent crimes and hardened criminals shipped back from the U.S. and Canada and the incidence has reached such proportions that special measures have had to be contemplated to address the deportees.

Monitoring them is fraught with human rights and other problems and the larger question is social - how do men schooled in the ways of crimes in highly developed countries fit into poor societies where they have few, if any links?

We have noted before that Guyana authorities should have no problem accepting their nationals sent back home for minor offences like illegal entry into other countries or for petty crimes like jay-walking, drunk driving or shoplifting.

But it's a problem of much larger proportions when men who have spent almost all their adult life and have all their links in the cities of the U.S. and Canada are dispatched here after they become hardened criminals tutored in the skills of crime, simply because they happened to have been born here.

Guyana is no longer home for these men and they are not likely to be anything more than a burden and a menace to a society to which they have contributed nothing.

Their rehabilitation after serving jail terms should be in their adopted homes where they legally gained citizenship and that should be the burden of the authorities there - not countries like Guyana which could barely afford to meet the needs of their own citizens.

A realistic and more enlightened approach to this issue has to be found and it is time that the U.S. and Canada pay more attention to the pleas to stop dumping deviants where they have fewer chances of being assimilated again into decent society.

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