Categorized | National News

Joint Commission To Tackle Human Smuggling

A joint commission between The Bahamas and Haiti may be the solution to the human smuggling problem and illegal immigration between the two countries, according to the immigration minister.

Fred Mitchell, who also serves as the foreign affairs minister, told the Bahama Journal that in light of the tragedy at sea this past Sunday, a joint commission is one of the more “viable” solutions to addressing these issues.

“Moving forward I spoke to the Haitian ambassador [yesterday] morning and I indicated to him that at an early opportunity we need to sit and revive the issue of a joint commission between Haiti and ourselves which would meet every six months,” he said.

“This would include technical teams, not just on a political level, to try and see if we can monitor this situation and this would include increasing the diplomatic presence in Haiti so that we can have more knowledge about what’s going on in the north of Haiti which is where the smuggling comes from to our country. It is also now clear that we need to ask police authorities here to look more closely at the smuggling which is going on from this country to the United States because it’s not good for the reputation of our country.”

Mr. Mitchell said the commission would also help to strengthen relations between Haiti and The Bahamas.

“I’ll be speaking to some Americans soon and one of the issues I will raise is how we can take additional measurers to stop and interdict people smuggling people into the United States from here,” he said.

“There’s no question that human smuggling is a serious issue for us and we have to do everything possible to discourage it. In the negotiations to settle a treaty between us and Haiti, I will probably have to go to Haiti but at this stage we have to see what the willingness of the other side is and make a formal request to them and then move forward.”

During House of Assembly proceedings Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Nottage revealed that an informant who is currently assisting police with their investigations has revealed that the persons aboard the vessel which sank Sunday were a part of a human smuggling attempt.

“A man who is reported to be a Bahamian national of Haitian origin reported to police that he was on board the vessel for the entire ordeal. He told police that his mother insisted that he go to the United States on the 25-foot vessel. The man said persons who were on board the vessel paid as much as $5,000 with hopes of making their way to Florida,” he said at the time.

All hope has pretty much been lost in the search for any survivors of Sunday’s tragic incident off the coast of Abaco.

Police reports indicate that on June 10, a vessel “Glory Time,” left Abaco around 5:00 p.m. en route to Florida.

Three hours into the voyage the vessel began to take on water and sank near Crown Haven, Abaco around 8:00 p.m.

But it was not until the afternoon hours on Monday that police were made aware of the incident.

Superintendant of Police in Abaco Noel Curry confirmed Tuesday that the captain of the vessel has not yet been found and officers are not sure if he is deceased or missing.

He confirmed that if the captain is found to be alive, he could face serious human smuggling charges.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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