Criminal deportees, individual rights and the protection of society
The rights of individuals end where the rights of other members of society begin.
Last Sunday, Searchlight published on our website, a story about a Vincentian man who had been deported to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) after being found guilty in Canada for aggravated sexual assault and for knowingly passing on HIV to his lovers.
This individual, like all of us, has a right to privacy, but given his violent, dangerous, criminal history, the protection of the community he has recently rejoined must take precedence.
Our story generated quite a lot of interest on social media, and while widespread awareness of this individual’s history has been achieved, the only difference between him and some other people who already live in SVG is that his deeds have been proven in a court of law and made public.
This is why we should always take on board the advice of our public health educators to relate to all new sex partners in the same manner as we would the man who was recently deported. Our medical professionals continue to urge sexually active individuals to maintain one faithful partner and for condoms to be consistently used until new sexual partners are determined to be HIV-negative.
This story also re-ignites another discussion we have had before — the deportation of criminal offenders from developed countries to Caribbean countries which are ill-equipped to deal with them.
Usually, the societies into which these criminal deportees are injected have no idea about what occasioned their return home, and the residents are left open and defenceless to those who choose to continue down a criminal path.
The negative impact of these deportees is felt not only in the crimes that some of them commit after deportation, but also the tremendous influence they exert, especially among vulnerable youngsters looking for belonging and guidance.
We would rather that the countries that nurtured these offenders keep them, but if they must be sent back, our governments cannot be blindsided. We must be provided with more information on the criminal history of those deported, as a person may be deported for an immigration offence, but they may possess a frightening criminal record which is not shared with our police.
In recent years, police here have been investigating several serious offences, including murder, robbery, fraud, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking, as well as drug, firearm and ammunition related offences in which they strongly suspect deportees may be involved.
We need to be better prepared, both at the individual and governmental levels, to deal with this situation.