Haitians were abandoned without food or water for nearly a week – AG

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Over 50 Haitian nationals were seen on Sunday in the Kurupukari area.

Based on information received, the group of men, women and children were reportedly begging for food and water after they emerged from the forest.

It is believed that the people have been abandoned by smugglers and were reportedly staying in the dense forest.

In a brief interview with this publication, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, described it as a human rights travesty.

“It’s a human rights tragedy and travesty. The people are being smuggled, they were abandoned in the bushes without food or water for nearly a week. No one knows where they came from. We are to learn that from the Police,” Nandlall said.  

The discovery comes shortly after the Guyana Government revoked the visa-free travel for Haitians. 

The revocation of the visa-free travel for Haitians was done after it was discovered that over 38,000 Haitians who arrived here since 2015 cannot be accounted for.

It is believed that most of these persons would have left illegally, using the “backtrack” to either Suriname or Brazil – places that demand visas for Haitians to enter. In fact, several busloads of Haitians were intercepted at Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) presumably on their way to Brazil last month.

However, the influx of Haitians to Guyana is viewed as a set of desperate poor people trying to better their lives following the collapse of their country’s economy.

Back in 2019, the then PNC Government had insisted that the Haitians weren’t being coerced to qualify as “trafficking in persons” (TIP).

The UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) says this about “migrant smuggling”: “Smuggling of Migrants is a crime involving the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. It undermines the integrity of countries and communities, and costs thousands of people their lives every year.”

Back in February the Brazilian Federal Police arrested 27 immigrants who entered Bom Fim illegally via Guyana’s borders.

The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) had noted that of those arrested, there were 26 Haitian nationals and one Cuban.

“Some of the Haitians arrived in Lethem and were initially denied entry into Brazil, but it was suspected that they would try to use other routes to cross over, hence the information was passed on to Brazilian counterparts by CANU who then alerted their law enforcement units within the area,” CANU had stated.

Recently, Brazil’s Federal Police and CANU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to share information and conduct joint operations, involving narcotics and other criminal activities.

Guyana’s land borders with Brazil have been closed since March 2020.