Stand up for Jamaica, through its Executive Director, Carla Gullotta, finds it reprehensible the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) decision to send back the 36 Haitian nationals, who landed in
Portland by boat on Saturday, September 9, 2023, to Haiti.
In a press release from the GOJ, through Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime
Minister Robert Nesta Morgan, it noted that, “Following the completion of our immigration
checks and security vetting, the group was denied entry. From the vetting process, it was found that there were members who had been previously removed from Jamaica for breaches of entry.”
However, Carla Gullotta believes this move is backward and goes against the support and
harmony that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is supposed to achieve. “Jamaica and
CARICOM have had a strong voice on the unfortunate situation happening in Haiti currently;
therefore, it is disheartening and counterproductive to return Haitians to harsh conditions,
instead of welcoming and supporting them,” she said.
The executive director wishes to remind the GOJ and citizens that the situation of the Haitians is similar to when Jamaican farm workers were allegedly mistreated in Canada and the issues of rights were raised. The same is true for when Jamaicans try to cross the border to reach the United States of America. In this regard, “we cannot have two different attitudes to the situation,” she noted.
Stand up for Jamaica wishes to emphasize that the Haitians, including children, are not criminals. They are refugees, which is a different case. “They did not commit any offence, apart from escaping fear, terror, hunger, gang war, and instability. Some of them are children and it is hard to believe that they are in conflict with the law,” Gullotta highlighted.
Daily, thousands of migrants from countries such as Iran, Lebanon and Syria flood European
countries by boat.
Their numbers constitute a real problem for the host countries, but they are
never sent back home, as the host countries understand that their return would mean a sentence to death for most of them.
The Government’s forced return of the Haitians back to Haiti, where they face a real risk of
persecution, torture or other serious or irreparable harm, amounts to refoulement, which is
explicitly prohibited under international refugee and human rights treaties, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which have been ratified by Jamaica.
The Government’s denial to the Haitians of the right to due process, the right to legal
representation, the right to be heard, the rights of the child to special protection, and the right to access basic information on the asylum procedure, is inconsistent with human and constitutional rights principles and standards and is a brazen affront to the principle of non‐refoulement, which requires the Government to grant individuals seeking international protection access to efficient asylum procedures.
Stand up for Jamaica is calling on the Government to really consider the atrocities being faced by the people of Haiti and be open to showing more empathy and properly discharging its international obligations, should another set of nationals arrive on our shores.