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Chief Justice asks State to show compliance with Trafficking In Persons law for Haitians

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2020, 15:12 by Denis Chabrol

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Friday asked the State to prove that it obeyed the Combatting in Trafficking In Persons Act, after claiming that the now departed 26 Haitians had been deemed as victims of people trafficking.

“I am just more interested in the legal issues that I have raised because when I read the affidavits because, to my mind when I read the affidavits, to my mind those are very, very important issues that need to be addressed that will help us in managing cases like this especially, as you know, Guyana is on the cusp of many things, as we hear, and so we have to be prepared in many different ways in all these kinds of issues and so maybe if we can get some clarity on how a matter such as this should be handed or if it was handled correctly or  not, it would be best to do so,” she said.

She gave Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Attorney-at-Law Darren Wade, who is representing the Haitians, to submit their positions in writing by January 15, 2021 and return on January 27, 2021 for clarification or decision.

At the request of Mr. Nandlall, he and Mr. Wade would also have to submit arguments on why the case of the detention of the Haitians by police should continue although they have since left Guyana.

Noting that the Haitians had been given permission to stay in Guyana for six months, the Chief Justice questioned whether the Combatting Trafficking In Persons Act was activated, they were provided with a victim advocate and if they had been advised of their status. The Attorney General has also been asked by the Chief Justice to inform the Court at what point they were not victims if trafficking and were deemed prohibited immigrants. “It does not appear that the Combatting of Trafficking In Persons Act was not followed, given the contention of the state that these persons were victims of trafficking,” she said.

Specifically, Mr. Nandlall  was asked to state what was the status of the Haitians from November 8 to 10 when investigations were conducted ad again from November 10 to 30.  She said she saw no evidence in the affidavit telling them that they were prohibited  immigrants. Further, the Chief Justice wants to know what provisions of the TIP Act permitted them to be held in “protective custody and where is the protective status.”

Chief Justice George-Wiltshire stressed that there was need for legal clarity on how and if the matter of the Haitians was handled correctly.

Several of them were arrested on November 7 at a hotel in Georgetown and others in Linden shortly after arriving in Guyana.

Government subsequently said the Haitians were released from custody at the Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration because it could not have determined when the pending court case would have ended.