KINGSTON, Jamaica — A British parliamentarian is livid that Jamaica has refused his country’s $30.7 million offer to help fund construction of a new prison, allowing nearly 600 Jamaicans incarcerated in the UK to be returned to the island to complete their sentences.
UK news company The Sun reported March 1 that Philip Hollobone, a member of Parliament in the British Conservative Party, last night lashed out at the Jamaican government for its decision.
“The reaction from the Jamaican government is a complete disgrace,” Hollobone was quoted as saying. “Their ambassador should be called in and urgent arrangements should be made or some other solution to deport convicted Jamaican nationals who are taking prison places in our own jails.
“If they won’t accept them, we should send the Jamaican government a bill for their annual incarceration.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, told the Senate in January that the government had decided not to accept the offer made by then British Prime Minister David Cameron during his two-day working visit to Jamaica in September 2015.
She said her administration did not believe that the terms of the offer would be beneficial to Jamaica as a whole. The deal would have saved British taxpayers around $12.3 million a year after the prisoners, who each cost around $36.9 million annually, return to the island.
However, Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ administration maintains that the deal would be more beneficial to the UK than Jamaica.
Minister of National Security Robert Montague, after the rejection of the deal in January, told the Jamaica Observer that, “The cost of the facility is $49.2 million, the gift is $3.7 million. Jamaica and the taxpayers of Jamaica would have to find the rest. That would call for increased taxes on the already overburdened taxpayers.”
The Sun further reported that a British government spokesperson said Tuesday night, “We note and respect the decision of the Jamaican government. We will continue to work with them to deliver the return of Jamaican nationals from UK prisons to Jamaica and we remain committed to an excellent bilateral relationship across a range of issues, including security and prisoner transfers.”
Recent figures, according to The Sun, suggest there are almost 600 Jamaican prisoners in British jails with many convictions related to drugs and violence.
Read more here