AG says ‘missing’ Haitians must be found before response to queries about treatment

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Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall on Friday said he intends to make full disclosures to the court on the State’s treatment of Haitian nationals, who were detained and taken in protective accommodation on suspicions of human trafficking/smuggling.

His comments come hours after Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George, S.C asked the State to show how 26 Haitians, who were detained and ordered deported, went from possible Trafficking in Persons (TIP) victims to ‘prohibited immigrants’.

The Chief Justice also asked the State for full disclosure of the treatment meted out to the Haitians nationals while in the State’s care.

The Chief Justice also pushed back against repeated requests by Nandlall for the dismissal of the case brought before her on the constitutionality of the detention and planned deportation of the nationals.

The Attorney General told the court that the case should be dismissed because the whereabouts of the ten men, nine women and seven children are currently unknown.  He said with a stay on the deportation in effect, the Haitians were released from the State’s protective accommodation but they are suspected to have left the jurisdiction illegally, confirming the suspicion of Guyanese authority.

But the Chief Justice, in refusing to dismiss the case, insisted that there were some “important questions” that the State must answer for future guidance and preventing a recurrence.

The Attorney General, during an interview with the News Room following the hearing, said that the State is not opposed to answering the court’s queries but he believes the Haitians must be found and presented to the court in order for the case to move forward.

Chief Justice, Roxane George, S.C

“I have asked the court for leave…now that it is confirmed that they have left the jurisdiction of the court, we have to establish whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter…this must be ventilated before I proceed to answer any questions asked by the court,” the Attorney-General told the News Room.

The Chief Justice said what happened with the Haitians should never happen again and she is interested in finding out whether the procedures which have been put in place by law to deal with both TIP victims and prohibited migrants were followed.

Nandlall told the News Room it is now confirmed that the Haitians entered Guyana simply as a transient point to enter other countries unlawfully. He said it was while detained that the State learnt that they also furnished immigration officers with misleading information.

He said the government’s position has been vindicated although there are several allegations of constitutional violations and mistreatment.

“That constitutes a basis for deportation from Guyana. The fact that in the end, it turned out exactly as the government suspected that they were simply coming to Guyana to enter other countries unlawfully,” the Attorney General told the News Room.

When the matter came up in the High Court on Friday, Attorney-at-law, Darren Wade made an oral application for an extension of time to file affidavits on behalf of the Haitians.

That application was turned down by the Chief Justice. She told Nandlall and Wade to make their submissions in writing by January 15, 2021, and return on January 27, 2021, for clarification or decision.

On December 1, Principal Magistrate, Sherdel-Isaacs-Marcus, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, issued an order for the nationals to be taken to the nearest port of exit on the grounds that the violated Guyana’s immigration laws.

The Chief Justice suspended the deportation which led the government to release the Haitians from its custody at their request.

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