Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris

By Loshaun Dixon

Basseterre, St. Kitts-The impact of potential criminals being deported from the USA and Europe to the Caribbean is drawing concerns from the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Prime Minister raised his concerns recently and admitted that though it was not a new issue, in recent times it has emerged critically on the forefront.

“In the United States of America and it has emerged equally in the forefront of EU as it has been at the heart of many of the security issues and even at the heart of political discourse in the EU,’ said Dr. Timothy Harris.

He said it was a matter the Federation ought to confront and to pay attention.

“We have always been concerned with the manner in which deportation takes place, the level of notice given the ability of member states to be able to deal with persons returning home and we are talking not of more of the criminal element,” he said.

Dr Harris added that each country’s right to regulate their immigration policy within its national interest is respected and assured to not alter in that regard.

“In the nature of things we are really going to have some persons being deported not because they have conducted or have been involved in criminal activity,” he said.

He questioned if the new policies that are being implemented in the USA will result in significant levels of deportation to Caribbean and what is the state of readiness.

He is concerned on how to let the people fit in. Many would have left their countries of birth for a prolonged period of time for upward of 20 years. In many instances many have no close family or other relationship to the countries to which they are being deported.

He also questioned if any consideration was being made to help the Caribbean prepare for these difficulties.

“In our own case in St Kitts and Nevis we have been giving attention to the issue of rehabilitation of criminal offenders. The conversation that we must have will have to be broad, practical and has to respond to some of these emerging needs that we are now facing,” he said.

“Some of them are not new but they take on greater imperative in the context of the reality now both in the USA and Europe.”

Dr. Harris also called on international partners to assist in reducing firearms that make their way to the shores of the Caribbean.

“The security threats which we face are many. And they include, of course, the increased level of criminality in our region that results from the use of small arms. This has been a long important concern and one which I believe that our international partners and stakeholders must do more to assist us. For too long we have been the victim of weapons which we did not create, which we did not produce and for which we made no profits,” he declared.