News Source Guyana reported last night, that "just after 8:30pm on Wednesday night, the 26 Haitian nationals which included children were rounded up at the Hugo Chavez Centre in Berbice and told to get their belongings and board the two buses in the compound. At that moment, they were unaware that they were being released."
The buses brought them into the city just after 10:30 pm. According to one of the Haitians, they were given their passports as they were allowed to leave the buses close to the hotel where they had been staying prior to their detention. Some of them complained that their treatment was humiliating."
The Haitians arrived in Guyana in November and were admitted to stay for six months. However, the day after their arrival they were rounded up by the Police and taken to the government facility in Berbice where they remained.
The Government said the Haitians were being held in “protective custody” as they were suspected to be victims of human trafficking. However, the Haitians through their lawyer Darren Wade, acting on behalf of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, denied that they were victims of human trafficking and voiced their displeasure over their detention.
The government moved to the Magistrates’ Court and was granted deportation orders to remove the Haitians from Guyana. However, Wade applied to the High Court and was granted a hold on the deportation order as he argued that the order was unlawful.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall in a statement said Haitians were not entitled to visa free entry to Guyana or consideration under sections of the Fundamental Rights provisions of Guyana’s constitution as Haiti had not signed onto the free movement aspect of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).
He was however rebuffed by Opposition Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amanza Walton Desir, who pointed out that "on 11th January 2019, President Granger signed "Immigration Order 2019" amending Part B, Schedule 1 to the Principal Act, to insert Haiti as a CARICOM Member State whose nationals "Shall be permitted by an immigration officer to enter and remain in Guyana, either for a definite or indefinite period," subject to the caveats under Cap.14:02 of the Immigration Act of the Laws of Guyana.
It was also pointed out that In July 2018, at the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Haiti signed on to the CARICOM Protocol on Contingent Rights, which covers the rights of persons moving to another country under the free movement of skills regime, as well as the spouses and dependents of those who move to another country.
The Government on Thursday afternoon said the 26 Haitians were released from custody Wednesday night because authorities do not know when a court case about their immigration status will end.
“Since it cannot be determined when the legal proceedings will be concluded, the Haitians were offered either to remain at the facility or to be released at an address of their choice. They chose the latter,” government said in a statement.
The Guyana government said after their meals, Wednesday evening, the Haitians were dropped off at the address requested and their valuables and passports were delivered to them.
But their lawyer, Darren Wade, says the Guyana government will be sued for inhumane and degrading punishment and several other human rights violations. He also says the Guyana government will be taken to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
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