Global Lockdown of People of African Descent

Authored by: Festus C. Obi

The Routledge Handbook on Africana Criminologies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367435721
eBook ISBN: 9781003004424
Adobe ISBN:


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Misrule and poverty have driven millions of Africans away from their countries in search of greener pastures in different countries of the world. Thousands of those bound for Europe either perish in the Mediterranean Sea or end up enslaved in Libya. Those who successfully made it to Europe are in asylum detention camps. Actually, official statistics from the European Union put the number of African migrants in asylum detention camps at more than 800,000. This number does not include those imprisoned in Europe for different offenses. Most Africans on lockdown in different countries of the world are there for visa overstay, drug-related offenses, and cybercrimes. Also, African countries themselves have adopted punitive measures of locking up their own citizens as well as foreign African nationals for long sentences because of sundry offenses (Sarkin, 2008). Some of these offenses would ordinarily be dispensed with using the traditional African system of justice of restoration (Onwudiwe et al., 2015). In countries like Nigeria, suspects spend years in prison awaiting trial for offenses that might require a six-month prison term. This chapter examines the dynamics of the imprisonment of people of African descent, whether on the continent or in the diaspora. Anybody who identifies as an African, irrespective of geographical location, is considered a person of African descent. Therefore, this chapter will x-ray lockdown case studies of African Americans in the United States and Canada, Brazilian Blacks, African Europeans, and African Asians, using China, Indonesia, India, Japan, the Republic of South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia as units (Oparah, 2005). The lockdown of Africans in their own their countries will also be examined. Factors that cause Africans to migrate to other countries and how some of them end up in prison are captured by this chapter. Also, the chapter argues that so long as African countries are bedeviled by bad leadership and economic woes, hundreds of thousands of Africans will continue to escape to other countries for a better future. Unfortunately for those African escapees or migrants, it is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Most of the countries where they seek refuge do not want them and will make life unbearable for them through incarceration and eventual deportation. Additionally, economic success expectations from home and the imperative for survival in their host countries constrain some of the escapees to engage in crime as a mode of adaption. This chapter recommends ways to curtail the migration of Africans to prisons in different parts of the world because that is actually what it is for most of them.

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