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GUYANA | After two weeks, Haitian nationals want High Court to release them from police custody

Haitian detainees being held at the Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation Centre at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice. Haitian detainees being held at the Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation Centre at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
Georgetown, Guyana, November 29, 2020 - Demerara Waves - The President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana has moved to the Court over the ongoing detention of 26 Haitian nationals who recently arrived in Guyana and were granted a six-month stay. The Haitians are asking the High Court to order that they be released from police custody.

One day after their arrival, the Haitians were taken into custody. The Ministry of Home Affairs said it was "protective custody" as they were suspected to be victims of human trafficking.

The Haitians, they made it clear however, that they are not and were never victims of human trafficking and entered Guyana legally through the Ogle International Airport where they were granted up to six months stay by the Immigration Department.

The court is expected to decide their fate by December 3, 2020 after receiving further submissions based on questions asked at Friday’s hearing.

The Attorney General’s Chambers did not immediately comment on the case.

With the Haitians in custody for more than two weeks, the Association that represents the interest of Haitians in Guyana wants the Government to produce the Haitians. Through Attorney Darren Wade, the Association has filed a habeas corpus motion.

The President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, Kesnel Toussaint says the Haitians are being detained at the Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation Centre at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice. When the case came up before Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, Attorney-at-Law Prithima Kissoon, who is representing the Attorney General, was reportedly unsure whether the Haitians were given six months stay.

Attorney-at-Law Darren Wade, who is representing the Haitians, says Ms. Kissoon told the court that the Haitians are to be deported. However, it was unclear whether they had been taken before  a Magistrate for the deportation orders to be issued. For Attorney-at-Law, Darren Wade’s part, he said they were not taken before a Magistrate for deportation.

Mr. Toussaint says in an affidavit, through Mr. Wade, that lawyers are being denied access to speak with them. Mr. Toussaint says the Haitians are being held there under tight, armed police security.

“Further, I complained that the police are not allowing counsel to see the detainees and whilst she could not confirm the allegation she agreed that it would be, if it is so a violation  of the detainees’ constitutional rights and consequently, the court ordered that the the Commissioner of Police/ the Police allow counsel to see the detainees,” Mr. Wade said.

He claims that they were given a six months stay on arrival in Guyana on November 7, but they were detained during a police raid at a hotel in Georgetown. Mr. Toussaint says that also on November 7 other Haitians were arrested on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

The President of the Association of Haitian Nationals believes that the Haitians’ rights are being violated by their continued detention. “That I am informed by my Attorney at law and verily believe that my countrymen’s detention is unlawful and a contravention of their fundamental rights,” he said.

Mr. Toussaint named a number of the Haitian detainees. They are Elicia Pierfin. Jean Mario Henriquez, Nolka Charles, Daphniel Cadeau, Sonise Pierre, Rijkaard Petit Frere, Ludger Jn Baptiste Toussaint, Juldat Francois, Jeff-Nerline Francois, Lovedaline  Gene, Jonathan Francois, Jonathan Francois, Myriame Vieux, Davidson Cadet, Maudalissa Methelus, Marshall Methelus, Ussen Legrand, Blastoonoff Belizaire, Joseph Arlamd Pierre, Marie Lovelyne Saintterme, Jen-N-Sie Elizena, Anita Catule, Yanove Marc among other Haitians nationals arrived in Guyana legally and were granted entry into jurisdiction of Guyana.

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  • Countries: Guyana
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