Right of Reply: Derick Heaven

The Jamaican High Commissioner replies to a recent article by Kenneth Taylor on the killing of British returnees

WHEN TRUTH, half-truths and sections that are untrue are woven together as skilfully as they are in the article by Kenneth Taylor ("Paradise Lost", 19 March) , it is often difficult for the reader to disentangle the three strands. The overwhelming majority of Jamaicans returning to live in their native land do so very happily. Each week here at the High Commission we receive many calls not only from those who are contentedly re-established in the sun, but also from their children, born here in the UK, who wish to work and live in Jamaica.

Mr Taylor states that returning residents are prey to "bandits stalking the Jamaican countryside". Jamaica is divided into 18 police districts; more than 70 per cent of all crime on the island is located in three inner- city districts. Far from being overrun with criminal gangs, the rural areas of Jamaica are relatively peaceful. Returning residents are not at higher risk than the rest of the population of being the victims of violent crime. Without trivialising the crimes which Mr Taylor reports, in grouping them together he loses the details of the circumstances of each crime, the knowledge of which might lead to greater understanding.

Mr Taylor states that "...times have changed and they are not welcome any more". This is untrue. Jamaica welcomes all returning residents. We know that many of the reasons that have guided their dream of returning to Jamaica are still evident in our society today and the newly established Department for Overseas Jamaicans works to make their return home as smooth as possible.

It would be very useful if people like Mr Taylor sought to explore the full picture and present a less sensational account of the experiences of Jamaicans returning home.

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