Deportations to Jamaica, Honduras could end up hurting Canada: federal studies

Canada urged to do more to help keep deportees from returning to crime

Canada  Border Services Agency shoulder patch

Deporting convicts to Jamaica and Honduras poses a boomerang-style threat because returnees may become involved in international crime that hurts Canada, federally commissioned research says.

While removing people who have committed serious crimes may be an important element of Canadian public security strategy, it places strains on law-enforcement and social services in the two destination countries and could have “unintended consequences” for Canada, say a pair of studies released under the Access to Information Act.

The Security Governance Group of Kitchener, Ont., delivered the findings to Public Safety Canada in January.The studies suggest the Canadian government could do more to support programs in Jamaica and Honduras to prevent such deportees from returning to crime.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, did not commit to more assistance but said the Liberal government believes in evidence-based policy.

“We continually monitor global events, ongoing issues and research related to crime and enforcement to guide policy development.”

Experts in Canada and Jamaica told the researchers that the ability of deportees to obtain jobs, housing, education and health care heavily influenced their ability to reintegrate and whether criminals would continue to take part in illicit activity upon their return.

“The great difficulty with properly reintegrating criminal deportees has ultimately contributed to deportee-related problems with unemployment, homelessness, inadequate housing, property crime, mental health and addiction,” one study says.

Calls to reassess policy

Deportees to Honduras return to a country that is facing urgent humanitarian problems, a proliferation of street gangs and organized groups involved in the hemispheric drug trade, the other study says. The extremely challenging economic conditions, social stigma and threat of violence make it difficult to build a new life.

A number of Honduran organizations offer social services to deportees, but they lack resources and cannot keep up with the massive flow of returnees, particularly from the United States, the study says. “Canada can play an important role in international efforts to support deportees and the Honduran authorities, while pushing for broader security and justice reform in Honduras.”

The studies also point out that privacy law limits the information about returnees the Canada Border Services Agency can share with officials in other countries, potentially hampering reintegration.

However, they add the RCMP may be better placed to pass along information through its international channels.

-more at CBC News

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