Feb 28, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – A total of 26 Haitians and one Cuban have been arrested by the Brazilian Police on Friday and yesterday respectively, for illegally entering Brazil from Guyana.
According to the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the illegal immigrants were nabbed through collaboration between its ranks and Brazilian counterparts.
CANU stated that the Haitians and the Cuban had arrived in Lethem last week. It is presumed that they might have entered Guyana legally and travelled there from Georgetown.
Upon their arrival, CANU added, they were denied entry into neighbouring Brazil.
It was suspected however, that they might use other illegal routes to cross, so CANU ranks passed this information to their counterparts in Brazil.
The Brazilian authorities in the area were alerted and had been on the lookout since then. The illegal immigrants did cross over through one of the illegal crossings and were nabbed in Bomfin, Brazil.
CANU detailed that Brazilian Federal Police detained them in the evening hours on Friday and during the early morning hours of yesterday. Taxi drivers waiting to transport them further into Brazil were arrested too.
The apprehension of the illegal immigrants, stated CANU, is one of the successes of a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CANU and the Brazilian Federal Police to share information.
The MoU was signed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and one of the arrangements made was to monitor the movement of persons through illegal crossings. Such movements, CANU stated, not only poses a security risk, but also a health risk due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Just last year between November 7 and 8, 26 Haitians which included children were discovered at a city hotel in Georgetown, about to board a minibus in route to Linden-Mabura Road.
They were placed in protective custody while the Guyana Police Force (GPF) had launched an investigation. It was suspected that they were victims of human smuggling or trafficking in persons’ operation. The suspicion came after it had been brought to the government’s attention that hundreds of Haitians would enter Guyana but miss their return flights and vanish without a trace.
Following the investigation, the Haitians were placed before the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court. An order was later granted on December 2, 2020 by Chief Magistrate, Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus, to have them sent back home.
However, this move was halted by the Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire, on December 3, 2020, after attorney-at-law, Darren Wade, who represented them had filed a motion in the High Court.
Wade had posited that the Haitians had entered Guyana legally and were granted a six-months stay by the immigration. The Haitians were subsequently released from protective custody and were allowed to head back to the city hotel.
Before the High Court hearing, however, the Haitians had disappeared from the hotel. Their lawyer, Wade had confirmed their departure.
Kaieteur News called him yesterday to find out whether anyone out of the set he represented was detained by the Brazilian police on Friday and yesterday.
Wade said that he does not know as yet, and added that when his clients left they did not inform him of where they were heading.
Nevertheless, Wade said, he understands that they would normally head to Brazil or French Guyana, where they would receive refugee status.
In August of 2019, the first case of Haitians missing their return flights was reported. There were also instances where Cubans too would disappear without returning to their country. Investigations had revealed that both Haitians and Cubans would arrive by the busloads at the Guyana/Brazil Border and stamp out there.
It was touted that Guyana’s anti-trafficking status could become affected because of this, especially the Haitians. The reason being that although they do not need a visa to enter Guyana, they must have one to enter Brazil.
Entering Brazil without a visa would make them unaccounted for and Guyana could come under the radar for the disappearing Haitians.
Current Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, had said that in order to remedy the situation, a visa may have to be introduced for Haitians entering Guyana.
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