This is the word from Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Amanza Walton Desir, in commenting on 26 Haitian Nationals who have been detained over the past two weeks by the Irfaan Ali administration shortly after they legally arrived at the airport in Georgetown on November 7, and were given a six months stay on arrival.
Ms Walton-Desir lamented that “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.”
She pointed out that under the CARICOM treaty, “A Haitian National is a CARICOM National. All CARICOM Nationals 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 CCJ in the Shanique Myrie case 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 and that the visiting national must present a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of these fundamental interests of society. The threat posed should, at the very least, be one to do something prohibited by national law. To date, the government has failed to establish these exceptions in the present case.
The APNU/AFC spokesman on Foreign Affairs dismissed what she characterised as “the disingenuous proposition by the installed regime to couch the illegal detention of our Haitian brethren in terms of allegations of human trafficking.”
She said “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. The authorities have been unable to establish that these men and women 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. “
Ms Walton Desir pointed out that “the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act requires that victims of human trafficking are entitled to consult an Attorney, that residence in a shelter or other facility is voluntary, and victims are entitled to visits from family members, but these legal provisions appear to be of no moment. In any case, respect for the rule of law is not something with which this administration can be accused.”
The Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson intimated that the treatment meted out to the Haitians by the Guyana Government, could possibly be attributed to the fact that they are Black, noting that “ in stark contrast, we do not see similar treatment meted out on visiting Venezuelan or Brazilian neighbours, nor our Cuban comrades.”
“It therefore would not strain credulity to conclude that our Haitian brothers and sisters are being so disrespected precisely because they are of African descent, especially given this regime’s obvious propensity for racial animus.
“It would do us well to remember that it was Toussaint L’Overture and his successful Haitian Revolution which culminated in 1804 with the independence of Haiti from the French colonizers, that inspired the generation of Burnham and Jagan to the audacity of self-determination.
“The treatment of our Haitian brethren is inexcusable, it is wrong! And those of us who in our silence are complicit in their illegal detention ought to remember the admonition of the German theologian Niemoeller –
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
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