More condemnation of Gov’t’s decision to return group of 36 Haitians to their homeland

There is more condemnation of the Government’s decision to return a group of 36 Haitians to their homeland.

The Government disclosed that the Haitians who arrived on Saturday were returned Sunday.

The Advocate’s Network says it sees the Government’s action as cruel, inhumane and inconsistent with international law and Jamaica’s Refugee Policy.

The group says it is deeply disappointed in what it describes as the forced return of 18 men, 9 women and 9 children, whom it says were seeking refuge from the horrific conditions that have existed in Haiti for several months.

It cites Jamaica’s obligation under the 1951 International Convention and its 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees, which is to treat such persons consistent with international human rights standards and in keeping with international obligations, as well as the 2009 refugee policy.

The Advocates Network says under that policy, among other things, Jamaica has an obligation to consider all applications for refugee status on its individual merit to determine whether the applicant has demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her country.

The group says the policy also provides that where a person has indicated a desire to seek refugee status in Jamaica, he or she shall be afforded the opportunity to do so in the prescribed manner.

According to the Advocates Network, the policy specifically states no person applying for refugee status may be removed from Jamaica until the application has been finally determined.

It says the group of 36 was shipped back to Haiti less than 24 hours after persons set foot on Jamaican soil, without giving them an opportunity to get legal advice and to request asylum.

It also noted that the Government indicated that during the vetting process, it was found that there were members who had been previously removed from Jamaican for breaches of entry.

Meantime, Information Minister Robert Morgan says the Government acted within the law to protect the interest of Jamaicans.

He adds that there are concerns about human trafficking.

Mr Morgan states that the area from which the Haitians arrived is not a volatile area.


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