Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Amanza Walton-Desir, has called the detention of 26 Haitian nationals as “inexcusable.”
Walton-Desir, the Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that it is nothing short of heinous that the Guyana Government would seek to detain the nationals in subhuman conditions and all indications, without justification.
“This act not only undermines regional integration which we claim to support (apparently conveniently), but also flies in the face of the laws of Guyana, the plethora of International Conventions to which we are a signatory, and importantly, our obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” Walton-Desir explained.
She pointed out that Haitians are also CARICOM nationals and are entitled to enter into another CARICOM Member State and be issued an automatic six-month stay, hassle-free – that is to say, without harassment or the imposition of impediments.
“The Secretary-General of CARICOM recently expressed the desire to see Haiti participate more fully in the CSME during the accreditation of Haiti’s Ambassador to CARICOM. However, that entity has been conspicuously silent on this matter.”
The Member of Parliament cited the case, which was brought before the Caribbean Court of Justice by Shanique Myrie.
According to Walton-Desir, in that case, it was established that in order for a Member State to limit the right of entry of a national of another Member State, it must be in the interests of public morals, national security and safety, and national health.
In contrast, the visiting national must present a genuine and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of society’s fundamental interests. And the threat posed should, at the very least, be one to do something prohibited by national law.
It is against this background that the MP is contending, “To date, the government has failed to establish these exceptions in the present case. Enter the disingenuous proposition by the installed regime to couch the illegal detention of our Haitian brethren in terms of allegations of human trafficking.”
She added, “This proposition, however, fails miserably at the first hurdle. The detainees have not only flat out denied being trafficked, but the persons detained by the police on suspicion of trafficking the Haitian Nationals have been released without any charge being instituted against them.”
To this end, she said that authorities have been unable to establish that Haitians presently in “protective custody” have broken any “law, yet, they remain in detention, children separated from guardians and placed in the care and custody of persons alien to them. The treatment of our Haitian brethren is inexcusable; it is wrong!” Walton-Desir concluded.
The Haitian nationals arrived in Guyana on November 7, 2020, and were subsequently apprehended by a contingent of police officers under arms and taken into custody at the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) Headquarters.
They were questioned and sent to the Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration at Onverwagt, Region Five.
After two weeks of being detained, the nationals began making videos and posting them on social media, complaining that they are being held under inhumane conditions and would have entered Guyana legally.
In fact, when their Attorney-at-Law, Darren Wade, visited the Centre, he expressed dissatisfaction with how they were being kept.
Nevertheless, the President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, Kesnel Toussaint, had moved to the High Court asking for an order that the nationals be released from police custody.
The case was called on Friday last, and several issues were ironed out. The court is expected to make a judgment on the matter on December 3, 2020.