‘We are taking a very very tough decision that if you are not a citizen of this country and you violate the laws, especially when it comes to gun laws, almost invariable you are leaving the country,” said Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who told Parliament that his administration will no longer accept criminals from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
“If you serve time, when you finish serving your time out you go. This is not a position that we will negotiate,” Browne said, adding “we will come back to this Honourable House to put a provision in the law …that even if you are a citizen, a naturalised citizen, and you commit certain heinous crimes and you become a threat to national security, we will revoke it and out you go.
Browne said that CARICOM nationals were abusing the island’s hospitality, noting that while the local citizens could be put in jail, they can’t be deported.
“But those who are non-belongers, we are systematically rounding them up and deporting them because of the security threat that they present to this country.
“And I note at some point they may want to take the issue of violating regional obligations, when it comes to the security of this country that is where CARICOM starts and CARICOM ends,” Browne told legislators.
He said over the last week, two individuals, who were seen as national security threats, had been deported and that Antigua and Barbuda would be declaring at least four more individuals “persona non-grata.
“What we are sending to this population, is a signal that this government has no tolerance for crime and violence. When you are a visitor and you come to this country, you must abide by the laws of Antigua and Barbuda, otherwise out you go. There is absolutely no negotiating on that issue,” he told Parliament.
The announcement by the Antigua and Barbuda government comes amidst efforts by an attorney here to prevent the authorities from deporting a 32-year-old Jamaican national, who has already indicated a willingness to take legal action against the Immigration Department.
Attorney Warren Cassell said his client, Damion Russell, was serving a two-year sentence for larceny, possession of fire arm and possession of ammunition when he was picked up by Immigration and deported last Friday.
He said he would be making “a formal enquiry in writing, as to where he [Russell] was taken on Friday.”
Meanwhile, Russel’s mother, Rosetta Hanson, said her son had been deported without informing her or performing the proper due process.
Hanson told OBSERVER Radio that she drove down to the V.C. Bird International Airport at about 1:30 a.m (local time). on Friday, where she saw her son surrounded by three immigration officers as well as two police officers.
“I asked them if I could talk to him, they say no. I ask them where they bringing him to? They say they can’t tell me….
“I was so nervous at the time. I had EC$250 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) in my bag. I asked them if I could give it to him because to my mind I felt that they were deporting him, and I know he don’t have money on him [because] I see him in the same clothes he had Tuesday.”
Hanson said the police officers allowed her to give the money to her son, along with her cell phone. She was promised that the phone would be handed over to him after he reached his destination.
She told radio listeners that she received a call from her son on Saturday and he told her that he had been sent back to Jamaica but was not handed any formal document. He also claimed that he had no idea why he had been deported.
- Countries: Antigua_Barbuda