top of page

Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ) calls on Government to protect the rights of Haitian refugeesand exercise more empathy

Stand Up for Jamaica’s Executive Director Carla Gullotta is again calling on the Government to urgently intervene to protect the rights of Haitians and ensure that they are treated with dignity.

The government should really consider the atrocities being faced by the people of Haiti and be open to showing more empathy and properly discharging its international obligations.

The authorities must also take a serious look at the conditions in which the Haitians are being kept when they are detained and ensure that they are not housed in sub-human conditions and are exposed to physical harm.

SUFJ points to the latest incident in which a Portland taxi driver was arrested last month and

charged with breaches of the Aliens Act for transporting 12 Haitians, believed to have entered the island illegally.

Questioning why the simple act of assisting our Caribbean brothers with transportation is a

criminal act, Stand Up is underscoring the need to exercise greater empathy towards the Haitians who are experiencing untold hardship in their country.

Jamaica has been dealing very badly with this issue of the Haitians as they have been deprived of their rights including access to an attorney. That is not right.

The Haitian refugees are being treated as if they are criminals and most of them are

children and pregnant women and this is wrong.

We at SUFJ wish to reiterate that Haitians, including women and children, are not criminals.

They are refugees.

They did not commit any offence, apart from escaping fear, terror, hunger,

gang war, and instability and deserve to be treated with respect and not have their basic human rights trampled.

In this regard, SUFJ is encouraging the Government to carry out a thorough investigation into the conditions of detention of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers in Jamaica, including reports of abuse.

Equally needed also, the SUFJ Director emphasizes, is an update on the Government’s plan for the 37 refugees who are seeking asylum in the country and have been waiting in limbo at a campsite in St Mary since last July.

Over 120 Haitian migrants have arrived in Jamaica by boat amid the devastating crisis in Haiti since July 2023. Over 80 have been forcibly returned to Haiti without being allowed to access an asylum procedure or communicate with legal counsel.

Since then, there have been reports of abuses of Haitians in detention; Haitians being subjected to indefinite detention in prison despite completing their sentence, detention without procedural safeguards, such as time limits for detention, periodic reviews, access to lawyers, or access to the courts, and increased incidents of surprise raids on refugees who have been living undisturbed in the island for years now.

 In the meantime, the Government is being reminded to honour its obligation under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, which prohibit life-

threatening deportation – the forced removal of people to a place where they may face the risk of persecution, torture or other serious or irreparable harm – and to adhere to the call by UN Refugee Agency to suspend the forced return of Haitians.


bottom of page