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Challenging is how Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, has described the issue of the deportation of Jamaicans from the United Kingdom (UK).
She was responding to questions, during a Diaspora Community meeting on Monday (December 6), about the British Government’s proposal to deport foreign prisoners to serve sentences in their country of origin.
“I think that we are going to have hard conversations with the Government here (UK) about this issue, because you are solving the problems here, but shipping them off to Jamaica is not solving the problem at all. You have better capacity here to deal with it, because Jamaica, right now, lacks the capacity”, She said.
Senator Malahoo-Forte suggested that Jamaica was being treated an “unfair hand” in the process.
“It is something that I am extremely concerned about, and I will look very closely at (it), because I do believe the approach being taken by the government here can be challenged,” she said.
Senator Malahoo-Forte also urged the audience, made up of UK-based Jamaicans, to “keep on the straight and narrow”.
“The laws are very harsh and, as they say, ‘if you slip you slide’; and we can’t continue to have those of you who are decent law abiding citizens being tarnished by those who chose to wreak havoc,” she said.
Senator Malahoo-Forte told the audience that she would like to see the negative image of Jamaicans abroad, and of Jamaica, changed and she called on the Jamaican community in the UK to do their part in this process.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, said the number of Jamaicans in British prisons has declined significantly, from a high of nearly 3,000 in 2003 to the current figure of just over 940 of which 722 are facing possible deportation.
The High Commissioner also commended UK Jamaicans for their dedication and commitment to Jamaica, as well as the fact they have made tremendous contributions to the UK.