Written by 1:32 pm Travel

Haitian association calls for probe

The Haitian Association of Barbados is looking for an investigation into the “very questionable” circumstances under which a gaggle of 34 Haitians, who’ve found themselves in difficulties, were allowed to enter Barbados.

Attorney-at-Law Pearlie Drakes, one in every of the administrators of the association, explained that the case of the Haitians who were being moved through Barbados en path to Guyana and Brazil have led to more questions than answers concerning the country’s border practices.

“I’d expect that, sooner or later, there will likely be a correct investigation as to how they came in the primary place. What were the plans for them? Who was responsible and people sorts of things? The immigration authorities have a responsibility to reply those sorts of issues and never just try to find out whether to place them on a plane and send them back to Haiti,” Drake told Barbados TODAY.

The association’s calls have been magnified by a declaration from Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn that the documents upon which the Haitians were looking for entry into that country were “fake”.

In a recent interview, Drakes called for transparency from authorities concerning the nature of the agreement between the group of tourists and an agency called MPH, which allegedly took US$4 500 from each of the Haitians and promised to cover all expenses between Port-au-Prince and South America.

The lawyer said it might have been unusual of immigration officials to grant the Haitians entry into Barbados in the event that they couldn’t show proof of onward travel in the shape of plane tickets, visas, and other prerequisite travel documents. He added that even within the case of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) residents, who’re generally entitled to an automatic six-month stay, the flexibility to sustain oneself financially is usually a prerequisite.

“So, the six months isn’t the idea upon which they enter. [Authorities] have to be satisfied that they will be here and that they can maintain themselves while they’re here, that they’d not turn into a ward of the state, and that in the event that they were alleged to have onward travel to somewhere, that every one of those arrangements were in place even before they entered Barbados,” Drakes told Barbados TODAY.

“How did they really get into Barbados if all of that was not finalised and the immigration authorities weren’t satisfied that that they had all of the mandatory paperwork that’s required to permit them to return into Barbados in the primary instance? How did they get into Barbados without all of that information being made available and that the mandatory laws in Barbados were followed as they normally could be?” the Haitian association spokesman added.

Much more peculiar for the association is the undeniable fact that on quite a few occasions, they’ve been met with red tape when looking for assistance from Immigration with matters regarding Haitians.

“As an association, we’ve sought visas through the Immigration Department and it has been difficult, and due to this fact it is vitally questionable as to how 34 –and I’m also hearing many more – have been capable of enter Barbados under very strange circumstances. It’s something that needs proper investigation,” said Drakes.

“I actually have sought to work with the Immigration Department and to be honest with you, haven’t been comfortable with among the responses that we’ve gotten. That’s the reason I’m questioning why a big group can are available and have that form of entry into Barbados with so many questions hanging over the procedures that were taken.

The 34 Haitians were staying at an apartment in Wanstead Gardens, St James, from February 20 once they arrived in Barbados until last week, once they were evicted by the owner, who had reportedly received greater than $23 000 in rent from the travel agency.

Barbados’ Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams has not issued an announcement on the Haitians since late March when he visited the property at Wanstead to confirm that they weren’t being held there against their will.

Nevertheless, his Guyanese counterpart has made it clear that the group wouldn’t be given visas to enter Guyana, as he alluded that the incident was not isolated.

Meanwhile, the Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey said the youngsters who were among the many evicted were being housed by members of the local Haitian community.
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