FIFTEEN Haitians who were detained by the authorities upon arrival here recently are currently the subjects of an investigation which is being conducted with consideration of international obligations.
This is according to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, who was at the time speaking at a press conference at his Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office on Friday.
Minister Greenidge said the persons were detained by police who acted on information that they may have been victims of trafficking.
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), a partner in the coalition government, has called for the release of the persons detained which include children.
In a letter to President David Granger, the party said the seven adults and their eight children entered Guyana legally and are being held in detention.
Further, the party stated that the individuals had their passports taken away while the children were separated from the adults.
However, Minister Greenidge could not confirm whether these reports are accurate. He offered that there would have been justifiable reasons for their passports to be taken away, if this had indeed happened.
“There are circumstances where if you are held by authorities, for immigration issues, they hold on to your passport until you are ready to leave. So that may very well be a legitimate action,” the foreign minister said.
He minister noted that the Haitians are held because of ongoing investigations.
Minister Greenidge related that although this is the case, his ministry is concerned about the need to move expeditiously in determining whether there is evidence.
He said too that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has made efforts to ensure that the women and children in the group are not put in any unacceptable circumstances, in terms of conditions, while the police sort the matter out.
The matter is being handled by the Ministries of Public Security, and Citizenship and Cabinet has called on the ministers with these portfolios to speedily resolve it.
“They’ve [ministries] been encouraged by Cabinet to deal expeditiously with the matter before them and to go and look at the legislation and ensure that if the legislation needs to be modified or updated, it is modified and updated,” Minister Greenidge said.
He said the two ministers and the police were also reminded of Guyana’s international obligations with regard to migrants.
“The treatment and holding of migrants are of concern to us. So it is a subject of intense attention by these bodies,” the minister said.
Asked about Haitians still needing visas to travel to Guyana, despite the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) free movement in the region’s policy, the foreign minister said this requirement is a product of existing legislation.
He pointed out that only certain categories of travellers from Haiti were allowed to travel to certain Caribbean countries without visas and one of the categories include politicians.