St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has told reporters that his country was threatened on the issue of accepting deportees from the United States.
He said St. Lucia was told that if it did not accept the deportees, travel for locals would be “pulled.”
Chastanet said he has indicated to the United States that he is unhappy but will honor the current system. However, the PM said he will continue to lobby for an international treaty to deal with the situation.
He explained that he was concerned that someone who left this country at 2 years old, spent their childhood and adult life overseas, committed a crime and is repatriated.
The prime minister asserted that the flaw in the process is that the United States is using the International Civil Aviation Organisation legislation governing air travel to send people back.
“In that agreement, if somebody leaves here and is detained or for some reason denied entry, it is required that we accept that person back,” the former Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister said.
He said he understands that provision within a particular time frame but was not sure that the architects of the ICAO agreement had in mind that someone could spend up to 50 years in a country and then be repatriated.
“I think this is an issue that must be brought up at the UN level and I think that we should write a treaty that specifically deals with deportees and how we are going to handle it,” the Chastanet told reporters.
Chastanet observed that some countries like India refuse to accept the deportees.
“Countries that seem to have the backbone and the ability to say ‘No’ get away with it,” he said. “Unfortunately, a smaller state like ours has to depend on a national treaty that we can go by because certainly we do not have the ability to push back,” he told reporters.
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