Categorized | National News

Shipwrecked Haitians To Be Repatriated Today

Nearly 200 Haitian nationals who were apprehended at sea after their vessel ran aground off Mangrove Cay, Andros last weekend will be repatriated to Haiti today, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell told the Journal yesterday.

Mr. Mitchell has also called for an investigation to determine whether charges should be brought against the captain of the ill-fated vessel.

“We ask that the matter be investigated as a criminal matter. The individual who was either identified as the captain or identified as himself as the captain has to, in my view, take some responsibility for what ensued,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“The police and the director of public prosecutions have been asked to investigate this matter as a criminal matter and we’re still awaiting those investigations.”

The vessel, believed to be carrying as many as 200 Haitian nationals, left Cap Haïtien, Haiti early last week but got caught up in Tropical Storm Isaac.

The Tribune erroneously reported that as many as 50 people had died at sea.

Immigration officials immediately moved to set the record straight. They said they have not confirmed any deaths at all.

Mr. Mitchell also revealed that investigators will determine whether this voyage was an act of human smuggling.

He defended his government’s decision to go ahead with the repatriations even before investigators are able to conclusively rule out whether this incident was human trafficking and he maintained that the Detention Centre is overburdened and unable to accommodate the large number of detainees.

“The repatriations wouldn’t affect generally the individuals –that’s going to go ahead [today],” he said.

“The Detention Centre had 84 people there and now 197 people have been added to that and put pressure on the centre and we must alleviate that.”

Former Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson recently raised concern over the government’s decision to repatriate the Haitian nationals prior to completing an investigation into whether human smuggling was involved.

Mr. Thompson said that the nationals should all first be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed then put on a stop list before being repatriated to Haiti.

While Mr. Mitchell maintained that repatriations will go forward as scheduled he did note that he will bring Mr. Thompson’s suggestions to the government.

“I am not a police investigator and I respect Paul Thompson and I will take that [suggestion] on as well but the fact is that the officials – the director of public prosecutions and the police know what the government’s position is and I assume that they will follow the mandate that they have,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell is expected to enter into talks with officials from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic next month to further address immigration issues among the three nations.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook