Haitian migrants seek asylum; lawyers ask government to reconsider deportation
The Haitian nationals who illegally entered Jamaica last week have applied for asylum.
The 37 migrants, including some young children, were recently taken before the court, charged with illegal entry, fined $7,000 each, and told they would be sent back home.
Following their arrival at Boston Beach in Portland on Monday, July 10, the Haitians were taken to a temporary shelter in neighbouring St. Mary, for processing.
Human rights lobby group Freedom Imaginaries, met with the Haitians in St. Mary, and subsequently, through a lawyer, wrote a letter to the government, requesting asylum.
Representative of Freedom Imaginaries, and attorney at law, Marcus Goffe explained that the Haitians fear persecution, if they return to their home country.
The lobby group has sought the assistance of the United Nations refugee agency in getting the government to comply with the international protection process.
Mr. Goffe said the aim now, is to prevent the deportation of the Haitians, and have government instead, give them access to protection and support services.
He noted that, with the current dire conditions in Haiti, sending back the migrants would amount to refoulment.
When asked about the court proceedings, relating to the charge, and the fine or imprisonment sentence, Mr. Goffe said the stipulated 3 days were served while the Haitians were in state custody, at the shelter in St. Mary.
He also expressed concern that the Haitians had been taken to court, without being given legal advice.
The lawyer expressed hope that the government will show compassion for the Haitians, who are facing a humanitarian crisis.