UPDATE: Guyana court halts deportation of Haitians

UPDATE: Guyana court halts deportation of Haitians

Friday, December 04, 2020

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George, has granted a conservatory order stopping the deportation of 26 Haitians, who remain in custody at a government facility.

Justice George handed down her ruling on Thursday night, suspending the deportation until the High Court decides on the constitutionality of the detention of the Haitians and their planned removal from Guyana.

It was reported earlier that several Caribbean human rights organisations and individuals have written an open letter to the Guyana government urging it to “clarify” the status of 26 Haitian nationals, including women and children, who they said had entered the country legally from Barbados in early November.

Read: Human rights groups want Guyana to make position known on detained Haitians

On Monday, Principal Magistrate, Sherdel-Isaacs-Marcus, at the Georgetown Magistrates' Court, issued an order for the Haitians, including nine women and seven children, to be taken to the nearest port of exit on the grounds that they violated Guyana's immigration laws.

But a Habeas Corpus was filed in the High Court last week by President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, Kesnel Toussaint, arguing that the Haitians were being subject to “inhumane treatment and unsanitary conditions”.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, opposed the conservatory order

The conservancy order arguing that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the application.

Nandlall said that the fundamental rights provision of Guyana's Constitution, is flawed since it only applies to citizens of Guyana and other Commonwealth member states, as well as, other countries listed under the said article.

According to Nandlall, Haiti is not listed since it did not sign onto the free movement aspect of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Single Market and Economy (CSME).

“These persons are aliens under the constitution,” Nandlall said during the zoom hearing.

But Toussaint, in his affidavit, claimed that a few hours after the Haitians arrived in Guyana on November 7, they were apprehended by the police.

The police claimed they were suspected to be victims of a human trafficking ring but the Haitians have denied that and Toussaint said that since their detention, the Haitians have been denied counsel, although several requests were made.

He told the court that the Haitians arrived here legally and were granted an automatic six-month stay in keeping with Guyana's obligation to the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

But the Government of Guyana is insisting that the Haitians are victims of people smuggling.

The case resumes on December 18.

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