On Sunday, April 24th, 2016, officers from the Department of Immigration’s Compliance Section, with the assistance of officers from the Department of Corrections, successfully carried out a significant deportation exercise which involved the escort of seven foreign nationals, incarcerated in Bermuda, from five different countries back to their respective home countries: Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and St. Maarten.
This deportation exercise was the first of its kind led by the Department of Immigration in collaboration with the Department of Corrections, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and the respective Immigration authorities in each of the aforementioned countries.
"Over the past year, the Department of Immigration has been faced with many challenges regarding the deportation of foreign nationals who have been incarcerated in Bermuda for a range of offences," explained the Minister of Home Affairs Sen. the Hon. Michael Fahy JP. "As a result of recent restrictions imposed by Bermuda’s gateway countries, United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the deportation process has been extremely difficult thereby making it virtually impossible to secure passage through any of the aforementioned countries.
"As a consequence of the information above, the Department of Immigration feverishly explored several options to deport the foreign nationals including, but not limited to, chartering a corporate aircraft for each deportation which had the potential of being extremely costly for the Bermuda Government.
"Upon learning that the Royal Bermuda Regiment was planning to hold their annual overseas camp in Kingston, Jamaica, the Department of Immigration capitalized on this opportunity by arranging a deportation exercise led by the Department of Immigration’s Compliance Section.
The first step was to engage the former Commanding Officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, Lt. Col. Foster-Brown and seek his approval for the Department of Immigration to deport persons onboard the Regiment charter to Jamaica. Talks were then initiated with the Department of Corrections to identify a number of inmates that were scheduled to be released from Prison between the years 2016-2020 and who were potentially eligible for grants of early release by His Excellency the Governor.
With the exception of three Jamaican Nationals who had previously been granted early release, five additional requests for early release were made at the middle of April which resulted in His Excellency the Governor granting approval to four last week Wednesday.
"Between Wednesday and Sunday, the Department of Immigration, in collaboration with Government House, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Department of Corrections, and the Ministry of National Security worked tirelessly to ensure that the necessary processes and protocols were followed, thereby making it possible to deport a total of seven foreign nationals out of Bermuda.
"This is good news for the taxpayer as it means that we will no long be paying the incarceration fees and associated costs for these individuals.
"This exercise would not have been possible had it not been for the countless hours of hard work, dedication and collaboration between for all agencies involved."