Discrimination of Guyana nationals in St. Kitts/Nevis
I wish to draw to the attention of the relevant authorities within the Government a matter of concern with regards to the treatment of Guyanese nationals residing in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and more in particular on the Island of Nevis.
From the year 2006, since the NRP-led government took over the reigns of the Nevis Island Administration, Guyanese have been targetted , abused and mistreated by Immigration Officers who are closely connected to the ruling party.
I am a proud native of Guyana and a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. I am hurt of the manner in which my fellow Guyanese are treated on Nevis but there are no representations from Guyana. I can recall instances in which reports were made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regards to several incidences of abused Guyanese and to date it seems as though these incidences were never addressed. I could also, if my memory allows, recall instances where Guyanese in Antigua and Barbados were experiencing the said problems and their matters were addressed publicly by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Government of Guyana.
People all over the world migrate to other countries. Nevisians migrate to other parts of the world for a living. Is it not right for a Guyanese to migrate? Guyanese migrating to St. Kitts and Nevis have been faced with much discrimination and insults against them on the ports of entry, be it St. Kitts or Nevis.
There are several Guyanese who have entered through the Vance. W. Amory Airport in Nevis as first time visitors who have had their passports upon entry seized by Immigration authorities or forced to take the returning flights for reasons unknown. Many are sometimes placed in smelly, rat-infested holding cells and are forced to sleep on cold concrete floors without proper toilet and bathroom facilities, as if they are condemned prisoners. There are instances where family members are not even allowed to see or speak to them.
In the year 2009, a young lady from Guyana was travelling from Trinidad and Tobago, where she works, to visit family members in Nevis. On arrival in Nevis at the airport, an Immigration Officer wrongfully identified the female as another lady who was previously sent back to Guyana. She was forced to take a LIAT flight to Guyana.
This matter was reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to date this matter have not been dealt with.
In December 2011, another Guyanese female arrived in the Federation to get married to her Guyanese fiancé. On her arrival, she was held by Immigration authorities in St. Kitts. After not seeing her through Immigration, her boyfriend decided to question Immigration authorities only to be told that she was being processed to leave on an available flight back to Guyana. She was taken to the check-in lounge and, in the presence of several travelers, ordered in a inhumane manner to empty her suitcase and hand over what she had brought for persons from Guyana. It was obvious that persons looking on were embarrassed and annoyed.
At present, there is a young lady from Guyana who is being held at the Charlestown Police Station by Immigration. She arrived at the Vance. W. Amory Airport in Nevis and was accused of traveling to Nevis to vote in the Nevis elections. She was travelling to Nevis for the very first time to visit family members. She was harassed and had her passport seized. Efforts were made to retrieve the passport to regularize her status but her passport could not be found in Nevis.
To date, she has not seen her passport and was picked up by Immigration authorities. Relatives were told by a female Immigration Officer to purchase a return ticket for her to travel back to Guyana. The ticket was bought the said day. The female officer was contacted and she said that the young lady would be held in custody until the following morning. The following morning when relatives visited the station, they heard she would not be released even though Immigration authorities held her passport and a valid travel ticket. It was shocking that the young lady was not allowed a bathe even though she was menstruating. That young lady was kept two days before being allowed to take a bath.
For too long, persons in authority in Guyana have been silent on complaints made by Guyanese nationals resident in the twin Island Federation.
I would like to ask the authorities in Georgetown, Guyana the following questions:
(a) Is Guyana a member state of CariCom?
(b) Is Caribbean Integration working for Guyanese nationals in St. Kitts and Nevis?
(c) Did St. Kitts and Nevis signed the agreement, similar to other CariCom countries, which allows for Guyanese visitors and CariCom nationals up to six months to stay?
d) Is it within the rights of the Immigration Officers at the port of entry in St. Kitts and Nevis to withhold passports?
I am looking forward for the relevant authorities to address these matters urgently to bring an end to the inhumane treatment of Guyanese. The Guyanese government is aware of many complaints.