Haitians should have had a court hearing
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Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC,
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC,

-CJ says, as she quashes deportation order

CHIEF Justice Roxane George on Wednesday quashed the deportation order for 26 Haitian migrants who were held in protective custody by the police last November for suspected human trafficking. The application was filed by Attorney-at-law Darren Wade on behalf of Allandres Archer, a private citizen, for and on behalf of the Haitians. The Haitians had contended that a breach of their fundamental rights had occurred when they were placed in protective custody at the Hugo Chávez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). In delivering her ruling, the Chief Justice (CJ) said that she found that there was a breach of natural justice on the grounds that the Haitians should have been allowed a court hearing before the deportation order was granted, based on guidelines set out by the Immigration Act.

Chief Justice Roxane George

“It is my ruling that based on the application… there was a breach of natural justice regarding the issuance of the deportation order,” the judge said. The CJ, however, did not grant an order for damages and costs, since the Haitians were released. Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, had filed an application which prayed for Archer’s application to be struck out. The application sought a dismissal of the case. It was submitted to the court that Wade breached his duty as an attorney when he failed to inform Archer of the contents of the documents in the case and the consequences of the execution of such documents before he (Archer) had signed it. The AG’s Chambers had contended that the proceedings were instituted by Wade without Archer’s authority, which is so fundamental a flaw as to make the proceedings a nullity. However, during Wednesday’s hearing, Wade said he did not receive instructions from this client to withdraw the matter.

Attorney-at-law Darren Wade

The CJ in her judgement refused to grant the AG’s application since she found that it had no merit. “I do not consider that your application has any merit. If the applicant [Archer] wants to withdraw he should have done so,” the CJ said. On December 1, 2020, Principal Magistrate Isaacs-Marcus at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court issued an order for the Haitians to be taken to the nearest port of exit. Justice George, on December 3, 2020, issued a conservatory order halting deportation of the Haitian migrants. Wade had contended that the order for deportation issued by the Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus was arbitrary and in violation of the fundamental rights of his clients. When questioned by the CJ on December 18, 2020, on whether the Haitians are within the jurisdiction, Wade indicated that based on the instructions that he received, they had already left Guyana.
This newspaper was made to understand that the Haitians had arrived in Guyana on November 7, 2020 and were reportedly granted six-month stays.
However, they allegedly provided incorrect information to immigration officers about where they would be staying while in the county. Days later they were found at a city hotel and in a minibus on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway.

Wade in his affidavit told the court that just a few hours after arriving in Guyana, the Haitians were apprehended by the police. A group was removed from the Bristol and Bristol Hotel, located on South Road, Georgetown, while another group was arrested on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. The police claimed they were suspected of being victims of a human- trafficking ring, an allegation the Haitians had consistently denied. President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, Kesnel Toussaint, had stated that while in detention the Haitians were denied counsel, although several requests were made. He had contended that the Haitians came here legally, and were granted automatic six-month stays in keeping with Guyana’s obligation to the Treaty of Chaguaramas. Subsequent to their detention, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn had disclosed that approximately 33,000 Haitians have been reported as “missing” over a three-year period, following their arrival in Guyana. Benn had claimed that the 26 Haitians, inclusive of seven children, were part of a human-trafficking ring.

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