December 2, 2020
The Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been granted Orders authorizing the deportation of 26 Haitian nationals who have been detained for weeks at the state-run Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration.
The individuals are to be deported for allegedly lying about where they would be staying during their visit to Guyana.
According to Attorney Darren Wade, who has been representing the interest of the detained immigrants, the action is “arbitrary” and was conducted with a clear disregard to his clients’ rights to Natural Justice.
“They were not inform-ed of, nor allowed to respond to the charge. There is no evidence I have seen supporting the contention made in the applications,” he told Stabroek News yesterday in an invited comment.
Based on documents seen by this newspaper Principal Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus granted several November 30 applications from Assistant Superintendent of Police Troy Benn of the Central Immigration Office. The applications called for the nationals to be removed from Guyana and “in the meanwhile be detained in custody”.
One application contends that on presenting himself to the immigration officers at the point of entry the Haitian national “failed to answer truthfully a question posed by the immigration officer in that there was a false representation of where he was staying, in contravention of Section 9(1) (a) of the Immigration Act” consequently by virtue of Section 9(2) he has been deemed a “Prohibited Immigrant.”
The application itself has been brought to the Magistrate’s Court under the aegis of the Section 28 of the Act which specifies that any magistrate may on the application of an immigration officer order a prohibited immigrant to be removed from Guyana.
Notably Section 28 directs that where such an Order is made the prohibited immigrant is to be removed from Guyana ‘at such time and in such manner as the Chief Immigration Officer shall direct”. The Officer is however asked to “have regard” to several conditions including the country of which the immigrant is a subject and the wishes and means of that immigrant.
The applications were made on the same day that Wade approached the High Court to have the 26 persons including seven children released from “protective custody”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs announced last week that the Haitian nationals were found after the police conducted two search-and-cordon exercises in Georgetown and Region Ten.
Some of the Haitian nationals were discovered in a city hotel while others were found in a minibus on the Linden-Mabura road. Among those found were seven children, two boys and five girls.
According to a ministry statement, the discovery was made as part of an investigation into a suspected human smuggling racket and trafficking in persons ring.
The Haitians have however denied any involvement in trafficking.
Wade in presenting their case before Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry argued that since those detained had committed no crime or been accused of committing any crime their detention was illegal.
The Attorney General who was represented by Prithima Kissoon is said to have disclosed to the judge that the Haitians were being kept in custody for deportation.
Stabroek News had reported same on November 13.