High Court ruling in case challenging deportation of Haitians set for Jan 27


Chief Justice Roxane George has fixed January 27, 2021, for ruling and/or clarification in the case filed challenging the deportation of 26 Haitian nationals.

During the proceedings today, Justice George was unable to proceed with arguments as Darren Wade, the lawyer representing the Haitians was unprepared.

At the last hearing on December 3, 2020, the Chief Justice fixed rigid timelines as Wade submitted that the matter was of urgent importance. However, he failed to file any submissions in the matter and sought an extension to do so. He claimed that the time was too short “to get all of the evidence.”

For his part, Attorney General Anil Nandlall asked that the matter be dismissed since he was informed that the Haitians have left Guyana. Nandlall said that he sent a letter to Wade requesting that he disclose the whereabout of his clients or present them in court. The Attorney General said he is yet to receive a reply.

Wade said he only received the letter ten minutes before the start of today’s proceedings which were fixed for 01:30pm. Justice George nevertheless said she will go ahead and hear the matter since it touches on serious constitutional issues. Also, the Chief Justice noted that the absence of the foreign nationals does not affect the case in any way.

On December 03, 2020, the Chief Justice issued a conservatory order halting the deportation of the 26 Haitian nationals. However, Wade contends that the deportation order is arbitrary and in violation of his client’s fundamental rights.

Wade, in support of his application, inter alia, is relying on the Constitution of Guyana and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC).

Nandlall however argues that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the application. He contends that Wade’s application to invoke sections of the fundamental rights provision of the Constitution of Guyana, specifically Article 47, was flawed, since Haitians are not considered Commonwealth citizens under this provision.

Nandlall pointed out that this Article only applies to citizens of Guyana, the Commonwealth, and other countries listed therein. The Attorney General submitted that Haiti was not included among those territories. Referring to the detained Haitians, Nandlall noted, “these persons are aliens under the Constitution [of Guyana]”. Further, the Attorney General said that Haiti was not included in Caricom free movement under the CSME.