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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jamaican asylum seekers return from Amsterdam

"Detention Centre"Image by StephenMitchell via Flickr
Source: glbtqja

Several Asylum Seekers are back in Jamaica and others are on their way home as they have expressed concerns on the systems there on persons seeking asylum. Apart from the legal concerns many are unable or have difficulty to assimilating into Dutch society.

The camp like facilities that many persons are held are the source of complaints, there are stories of African asylum seekers for example are held while being processed for up to two years. There are two types of holding camps, open and closed.

Open camps persons are allowed to leave for personal business like shopping and entertainment such as clubbing but the camper must return and use the national pass provided by the state. The closed camps however are the opposite, persons held in these closed camps have very limited movement outside its precincts and there stipends as paid monthly are managed by the authorities and are held in accounts opened on the persons behalf, food and clothes are provided via orders compiled by the campers on the inside through a list circulated in the facility.

They complain of the inordinate amount of time it takes to be processed although they do admit that others asylum seekers who are not necessarily Jamaicans have committed infractions that make the systems employ stricter measures so everyone suffers the consequences. One familiar practice by many especially African refugees is that they destroy their identification materials upon entry to the country such as passports and other forms identification making it harder for the Dutch authorities to process them. The social scene doesn’t offer much the guys complain and that there aren’t many black men around for socialization, the club scene although varied is not accommodating to some as they are considered to raunchy for some as sex clubs abound and the music tastes is far different.

One other noticeable problem in as far as advocacy is concerned from a local standpoint is that Jamaica Forum for Lesbian Allsexuals and Gays doesn’t seem to have a proper system of engaging possible asylum seekers and explaining the expectations and other ramifications of such a serious move.

With the return of the men many of whom left Jamaica in fear of their lives while others went because of friends’ insistence cannot go through the European system to seek asylum for the nest five years as advised by council before their departure. Many Jamaicans have sought asylum in Canada another one of those countries that has an easier set of processing procedures than the Unites States or The United Kingdom. The legal processes for proving ones reasons for seeking asylum are far more stringent than Canada or Amsterdam.

We saw a recent success story in the United States where a gay man’s case that was being processes for some three years finally was granted asylum there after affidavits from gay representatives and blog posts from Gay Jamaica Watch and GLBTQ Jamaica’s blogs that carry GLTBQ issues in Jamaica.

How the returnees will adjust financial and otherwise upon their return home is another matter as again the present advocacy framework through JFLAG doesn’t offer that kind of assistance in counseling and otherwise to returnees so as to prepare them for any fallout notably financial given the difficult periods we are now experiencing as a nation.

So Amsterdam may not be a viable option save and except for serious cases as some Jamaicans there have opted to stay especially due to the threat on their lives while they were here in Jamaica. There are others who have travelled there on a regular occasions especially during pride seasons, conferences and gay games so it’s not all bad though. As for Jamaicans who have sought asylum in Canada they are settled and seem to have adapted well as the Jamaican population there is much larger there so socialization and assimilation is much easier than in a European context.

Europe in as far as asylum seeking is concerned seemed to be more favoured by Africans and other oppressed states nearby hence the high concentrations of those ethnic groups there.

Anyway welcome home guys and I hope they are able to adjust quickly, knowing how good we are at adapting locally that shouldn’t be a problem.
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