Businesspersons sponsoring detained Haitian nationals’ work permits

The Haitian nationals detained in Guyana for suspected human trafficking are expected to be released very soon, since a group of businesspersons is initiating the process to have the adults granted their work permits so they can remain in Guyana.

Fifteen Haitian nationals (eight children and seven adults) who were detained by

Human rights activist Mark Jacobs

the immigration authorities last month can now breathe a sigh of relief since a group of businesspersons will begin the formal application process to have them granted the permits. The businesspersons will also be providing accommodation and employment for the Haitians.

A group, led by activist Mark Jacobs met with Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, on Wednesday at his Waterloo Street office in Georgetown and informed him that they would be taking full responsibility for the detainees.

“We’ve been given an opportunity to apply for these persons to stay in Guyana. There are persons here willing to accommodate these persons with employment and place to stay. I am not sure how long the process would take, but we are back here tomorrow with the applications to begin that process,” Jacobs informed.

The persons were detained on the grounds of arriving in Guyana as part of a human trafficking ring since their hotel appointments were cancelled and they were reportedly on their way to other locations. The detained persons are being housed at a Night Shelter in East La Penitence.

However, Jacobs said that the authorities have been unable to ascertain whether the persons were brought here as part of the trafficking ring or came here for other purposes. He added that the group, comprising business folk, members of the Guyana Bar Association and civil society, are working assiduously to ensure that those detained are given back their possessions so that they can stay in the country.

“The Police position has been that these persons were trafficked and that has changed, because they have not been able to verify that these persons are being trafficked,” he said.

Humanitarian approach

Since the news of the detainment of the Haitian nationals got out, several persons on Facebook and other social media platforms expressed their disgust at the Government’s handling of the situation. There is the call for a more compassionate approach in dealing with the issue, since children are involved coupled with the fact that the detainees could not communicate with officers.

Jacobs said that the only reason they were being allowed to remain in Guyana was because the Government was refusing to pay for their return airfares and the persons did not have enough money. “Concerned persons would have stepped forward to sponsor these persons and have them stay in Guyana and they have expressed their willingness to stay in Guyana,” he said.

Two of the three recommendations include halting the deportation of the persons in custody and that they be released. However, the group was informed that the Guyana Police Force is handling the matter, it is being treated as a criminal investigation, and as such, they would have to consult the Crime Chief, Wendell Blanum on the way forward.

“The Minister didn’t make any offers per se, we requested it. From the beginning, there were persons who stepped forward as a humanitarian gesture and said that we need to get these out,” Jacobs said when asked whether Minister Felix offered to grant the detainees work permits as an option to remain in Guyana.

Of the eight children detained, the parents of one child could not be found and as such, he was basically considered an orphan, because it was unclear how and who he came to Guyana with.

Those detained are: Limat Naiomi Cherubin, Jeannot Simeon; Guirant Dafeline; Denise Clement, Alterique Marizier, Nicholas Duclevil, Vilege Jacquet, 11-year-old Blondina Julien, 10-year-old Sandine Jerome, 16-year-old Gueraldine Clement, 12-year-old Carline Clement, 9-year-old Grego Clement, 11-year-old Sanite Jacquet and 12-year-old Diuenne Jacquet.