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…Nandlall to respond by January 15
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George has asked Attorney General Anil Nandlall to indicate whether the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act was strictly complied with by the State in the handling of the 26 Haitians, it alleged were TIP victims.
In presiding over the case – Allandres Archer-v-The Attorney General – on Friday, the Justice George said the evidence before the Court suggests that the Act was not properly complied with.
“When you read the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, it does not appear based on the evidence that has been produced by the State that the provisions of that Act was followed,” the Chief Justice said.
Though the Government has since released the Haitians, who were detained at the Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration, for approximately one month, the acting Chief Justice asked the Attorney General to indicate to the Court the status of the Haitians between November 10 and 30, when they were held at the Centre. The Haitians, who were accused by Government of being a part of a Human Trafficking ring, were arrested hours after their arrival in Guyana on November 7, and transported to the Centre on November 10.
“…At what point was it determined that they were prohibited immigrants?” the Chief asked Nandlall while pointing out that the evidence presented to the Court does not suggest that the Haitians were informed that they were prohibited immigrants, and or that they were free to leave.
The Attorney General has until January 15, 2021 to respond to concerns raised by the Court. The case will be called again on January 27, 2021 for clarification or decision.
However, when the case was called on Friday, the Chief Justice indicated that no submission or Affidavit in Reply was filed on behalf of the Applicant by his Attorney, Darren Wade. It was then that Wade signaled his intention to make an oral application for an extension. He explained that it was just moments before the hearing that he secured his client’s signature to file for an extension. Further, he indicated that though, belatedly, he has managed to secure Affidavits from one of the Haitians and the owner of the City Hotel, where the CARICOM nationals were staying at the time of their arrest.
The Attorney General, in objecting to the oral application for an extension, urged the High Court to dismiss the case on the basis that the subjects were released by the Government, and further, that they are no longer in Guyana’s jurisdiction, based on information, he would have received.
Wade told the Court that based on informed received from his client, the Haitians have since left the jurisdiction. However, he said given the seriousness of the issues raised in the Application, there is nothing stopping the Court from proceeding with the case.
Justice George agreed that the case raises serious issues that ought to be addressed.
“I am just more interested in the legal issues that I have raised because…when I read the Affidavits, to my mind, those are very, very important issues that need to be addressed that will help us in managing cases like this especially,” she said.
She continued: “As you know, Guyana is on the cusp of many things…and so we have to be prepared in many different ways…So maybe if we can get some clarity on how a matter such as this should be handled or if it was handled correctly or not, it would be best to do so.”
On December 3, 2020, the Chief Justice had suspended the deportation Orders which were granted by the Magistrates’ Court against the Haitians, pending her decision in the High Court on whether the rights of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals were being violated by the Orders, and or their detention at the Hugo Chavez Centre.
Days after the suspension, Government released the Haitians. Guyana’s Immigration Laws provide for Haitians to legally enter and remain here for up to six months.
Though Haiti has not fully signed on to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), in January 2019, then President David Granger signed an Immigration Order for the amendment of the Immigration Act to include Haiti among countries, whose nationals are entitled to an automatic stay of six months in Guyana.
The Order amended Part B of Schedule 1 of the Principal Act with the insertion Haiti just below Grenada. Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are the additional countries, whose nationals are entitled to automatic six months of stay.
The Haitians arrived in Guyana from Barbados on November 7, 2020, and were reportedly granted a six-month stay by immigration officers at Eugene F. Correia International Airport at Ogle.