TCI News

Deportation Orders not ready, former inmates held unconstitutionally and expensively for months while waiting

Magnetic Media photo

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday September 6, 2018 – Public money is being wasted and constitutional rights being infringed upon every time a prison inmate who is ordered to be deported once his or her time is served has to be held at the detention center when the required documents are not ready.   

The delay in Deportation Orders is a nagging and recurring problem in the Turks and Caicos Islands, which is forcing prisoners who have completed incarceration at Her Majesty’s Prison to be held – unconstitutionally – for months at the South Dock facility.

A Dominican man has been locked up at the South Dock Road detention center for two months now, according to his mother; a 19-year resident of Providenciales who just wants her son to be released to return to his homeland of the Dominican Republic.

Pedro Luis Flores has served a nine-month prison term after being convicted of theft.  Now, with his time having been completed, Flores is forced to languish in the dank detention center where he is waiting for a deportation order from the Governor, which has to be signed by the Border Control Minister.

The young man, who has reported getting sick at the Detention Center, which has a history of scabies, is just one of many cases where released prisoners are held for inordinate lengths of time.

Pedro Luis Flores and his mother; photo provided by mother

Magnetic Media is informed that some ex-inmates are kept locked up at the Detention Center for as long as three months because the deportation documents are not ready.

The holding of these former prisoners who have completed their times in jail is expensive, requiring security guards, utilities, medical care and food – all at the expense of the public purse.

The cost of repatriation of migrants has doubled this fiscal year to over $2 million in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  It is unclear what percentage of the resources is devoted to migrants who are awaiting repatriation upon release from prison.

Amnesty International advocates that: “Under international human rights law, no one can be detained without a legitimate reason and, anyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair trial.”

In the Turks and Caicos, these former prison inmates who have completed their sentences and have been ordered to be deported by a judge as a part of that sentence have rights too.  Under the section on Protection from arbitrary arrest or detention, it is explained in section five of the TCI Constitution Order that every person has a right to liberty.

The TCI Constitution lists eight distinct ways and reasons one loses that right and none of them apply to the foreigners who are detained after prison time is done.

Also under this section of the constitution it is explained that “Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation in respect of it from that other person.”

Our media house reached out to authorities by email; there has been no reply.

Flores’ mother says she will continue to appeal to authorities for help in getting her son released and returned to the Dominican Republic; she told Magnetic Media she has also offered to pay for his ticket home.

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