“The deviant behaviour of most of these deportees is a product of the environment in which they have resided and these countries, therefore, have the moral responsibility for their rehabilitation,” – Rohee
Minister of Foreign Affairs. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and Dr Richard Scott of the International Organisation for Immigration (IOM) yesterday inked an agreement between the two countries for the United States to financially assist with the reintegration of deportees to Guyana.
The US$3M pilot project will be disbursed between Haiti, whose project has already commenced, The Bahamas, whose project commenced a month ago, and Guyana.
According to Minister Rodrigues-Birkett the cooperation agreement will allow for the IOM to implement migration programmes in Guyana in areas such as; capacity building, advisory services and technical cooperation on migration issues, migration and health, international migration law, migration information, counter trafficking and migration of nationals among others.
She said during the simple ceremony held at the Foreign Service Institute, that the establishment of the IOM Office in Guyana will specifically facilitate the implementation of the “Re-Integration of Returned Migrants Project.”
She noted that this was proposed by the IOM in response to the request for assistance by the CARICOM Heads during their meeting with former United States President George Bush and then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, D.C. in June 2007 as part of that year’s Conference on the Caribbean.
She added that the objective of the project is to contribute to the long-term reintegration of deportees from the United States in areas such as the establishment of halfway houses and re-integration projects to equip them to become productive members of society with a view to mitigating the potential of their resorting to criminal activity as the only option of earning a livelihood.
She emphasised that in depth discussions have already been held between the IOM Teams that visited Guyana, and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Labour, Human Services and Social Security; as well as with Non-Governmental Organisations.
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, whose Ministry will work in tandem with the IOM office was on hand for the signing of the agreement and told media operatives that, “The flow of deportees, especially criminal deportees, is a top priority issue for many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.”
He reminded media operatives that the Guyana Government along with other CARICOM countries have been relentless in their calls for the US to work with them in relation to addressing the issue of proper re-integration programmes for persons who are deported from the US.
He added also that “the need for greater collaboration between the US and CARICOM to properly integrate persons deported to any country in the Caribbean was highlighted at the recently concluded Fifth Summit of the Americas,” which was attended by US President Barack Obama.
Putting the programme into context he pointed out that during the period 1996 and 2007 1528 criminal deportees were returned from the United States and a recent research conducted, revealed that 26 per cent of criminal offenders deported from the US to Guyana admitted to having committed at least one crime since they were deported.
“The deviant behaviour of most of these deportees is a product of the environment in which they have resided and these countries, therefore, have the moral responsibility for their rehabilitation,” Rohee emphasized.
He said, too, that many deportees, “particularly those without relatives in Guyana, find severe difficulty in reintegrating into the Guyanese society and thus become a social burden to the state as well as prime targets for recruitment by organised criminal gangs.”
The collaboration with the IOM is expected to assist with the establishment of a permanent intake reception centre, which will serve as a temporary residential facility for the deportees and provide them with adequate social and financial assistance to successfully reintegrate into society.
Dr Scott said that the reintegration programme would entail the training and locating of jobs for deportees, which is a key factor to the successful reintegration of the deportees “in general the focus is on jobs.”
He noted also that there was also the option of providing seed funding for persons to establish their own small business.
These reintegration mechanisms have been used successfully in the region where the pilot project has already been launched and Dr Scott said that he envisaged that those would also be in demand in Guyana.
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