£25m prison gift British PM announces prisoner transfer deal project

News post September 30, 2015

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller greets British Prime Minister David Cameron with a hug on his arrival at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday. Looking on in the receiving line are Opposition Leader Andrew Holness (second right) and Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill. (PHOTO: BRYAN CUMMINGS)

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday announced that the British Government will help fund the construction of a prison here, where Jamaicans incarcerated in England will complete their sentences.

Cameron made the announcement following bilateral talks with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at Jamaica House in the first few hours of his official visit that will end this morning after he addresses a joint sitting of the Parliament.

Cameron did not state the cost of the prison, however British media have reported that his Government will spend £25 million on the project that will effectively end a deadlock in negotiations over a prisoner transfer deal between London and Kingston.

More than 600 Jamaicans are said to be in British prisons and Government officials there say the deal could save English taxpayers £10 million a year when transfers begin in 2020.

Yesterday, the BBC reported that more than 300 offenders are expected to be deported to Jamaica under the scheme, which covers those sentenced to at least four years who have 18 months or more left to serve.

Cameron said the prison would help to improve the ability of the Jamaican justice system to deal with crime.

“This, I believe, is in the interest of both of us and is a good example of how we can work together to benefit people here in Jamaica, and in prison too,” he stated.

Cameron announced also that his Government will establish a £300-million fund to provide grants to Caribbean countries for infrastructure projects to, among other things, enhance the movement of cargo.

“I believe this money can help to unleash trade across the region with your roads and bridges, and port infrastructure to help speed up freight movements, and it will benefit British businesses who have the knowledge and expertise to deliver infrastructure improvements,” the prime minister said. He noted that this will make the UK the largest bilateral donor to the region.

The two leaders also discussed the urgent need to tackle climate change, with Cameron pointing out that the UK had spent £60 million in the Caribbean over the past five years on initiatives to combat the problem.

He said, however, that more needs to be done and that it was for this reason that Britain would spend some of the £6 billion budgeted for the next five years to finance climate change programmes, on local related activities.

Simpson Miller indicated that she raised the highly anticipated and controversial matter of reparations, but there seemed not to have been a deep discussion.

According to Simpson Miller, she brought the issue to Cameron’s attention, but indicated that “Jamaica is involved in a process under the auspices of the Caribbean Community to engage the UK on the matter while we are aware of the obvious sensitivities involved”.

Caricom has established a regional reparations commission aimed at helping to propel the growing international call for European countries which engaged in, and supported the slave trade, to make reparations.

Opposition MP Mike Henry, who has been at the forefront of the charge to have Britain pay the descendants of slaves for the disenfranchisement and enslavement of Africans in Jamaica, has said local MPs should shun Cameron if he does not place the issue of reparation front and centre during his visit.

MPs have given the nod to a motion put before the House by Henry for over three years now, for Jamaica to demand reparation from Great Britain for the trauma of slavery inflicted by its ancestors.

A steadfast Henry said yesterday on a national television programme as Cameron was arriving in the island, that he was willing to “take the queen to her own Privy Council” over the matter. The committee, which the Jamaican Government set up in 2009 to advance the issue, is said to be hampered by a lack of resources.

Cameron received a red-carpet welcome and 21-gun salute when he arrived shortly before 4:00 pm at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Cameron, who is making his first visit to the Caribbean as prime minister, was met at the foot of the aircraft by a smiling Simpson Miller, who greeted him with her customary hug; British High Commissioner to Jamaica David Fitton; and Chief of Defence Staff Major General Antony Saunders.

— Additional reporting by Anika Richards

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller greets British Prime Minister David Cameron with a hug on his arrival at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Looking on in the receiving line are Opposition Leader Andrew Holness (second right) and Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill.



Published By: The Observer

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