Guyana cannot afford to be party to illegal movement of persons- Benn

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 May 2023, 22:11 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Robeson Benn

Guyana has significantly reduced the number Haitians coming here to avoid them being taken illegally on the potentially deadly journey through Central America to the United States, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn said Wednesday.

“While we are concerned about the human…in relation to those persons  coming through maybe trying to go to Brazil and then on to the US Mexican border if they survive the Isthmus of Panama and the Yucatan Peninsula there, because many died there-women and children- that we do not have that responsibility that we could not be a party to the smuggling of courses, trafficking in persons,” he told the National Assembly during debate on new legislation to counter the trafficking of persons.

Official statistics show that in 2018 , 6165 Haitians arrived in Guyana but only 450 left here through a designated port, while in 2019 that figure grew to 20,261 but 1,697 left by immigration. Overall, in 2019 18,564 Haitians could not be accounted for. In 2022, he said 243 Haitians

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) late last month called on countries in the Americas and the Caribbean to suspend expulsions of Haitians facing a chilling wave of violence. CERD estimated that 36,000 Haitians were expelled from other countries between January and March and expressed concern about measures taken “without an adequate assessment of the protection needs” of each individual.

Guyana in June, 2021 re-imposed visa restrictions on Haitians coming here after dozens of them had been found at a hotel in Corentyne, Georgetown and the Lethem-Linden trail.

Mr Benn on Wednesday also stopped short of openly accusing the then A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)-led administration of having been complicit in the illegal movement of thousands of Haitians through Guyana, saying that “perhaps I would say was facilitated in 2018 and 2019 in this country” based on data.

According to the Home Minister, authorities have to be vigilant against trafficking of Venezuelans and the internal trafficking of Indigenous Indians.  He said one of the major challenges facing authorities is that trafficked persons are afraid to give information as their relatives and families in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Brazil could be targeted. “heir relatives are threatened with retribution if they give us information in relation to this problem,” he said.