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Haitian Migrants off Exuma

February 8, 2010

Another group of Haitian migrants were detained yesterday by The Bahamas Defense Force in Exuma – it is unclear what will happen to them. Today’s reports in The Tribune and Nassau Guardian suggest that they are “being processed” and the Prime Minister says they will be repatriated. But what about the halt on repatriation? And what about the first group of Haitian migrants detained last week who were “processed” in the courts and charged so they could be held longer? (Rationale was there are no repatriations right now) Why are these two groups of Haitian migrants being treated so differently?

Our letters, opinions, and voices are needed right now! Please write your letters and tell our government that we must stand in solidarity and support our Haitian brothers and sisters in their greatest time of need.

The Nassau Guardian article:

PM: Boat of illegal Haitian migrants to be turned back

BY Keva Lightbourne ~ Guardian Senior Reporter ~

Sixty-two undocumented Haitian migrants who were able to make their way into Bahamian territorial waters over the weekend will not be brought into the capital, but will be made to return home, according to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham during a news conference held at the Free National Movement’s headquarters on Sunday.

“There is a boat in our territorial waters that has not been apprehended, but that is in a contained position, and we expect that boat to be returned to Haiti with its occupants,” Ingraham told members of the media.

Reportedly the migrants made their way to Exuma before being spotted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force sometime around 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The vessel was spotted near the area of Barracuda Rocks in Barretarre (Exuma). It was loaded with the 49 males and 13 females. The RBDF said they all appeared to be in “fairly good” condition.

This latest group of illegal Haitian migrants comes more than three weeks after a powerful earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, destroying buildings and homes and killing thousands of people.

The vessel made its way into Bahamian waters at a time when repatriation exercises are on hold.

The Tribune Article

“62 Haitian Migrants Detained”
by Alison Lowe

SIXTY-TWO Haitian migrants are being processed by Defence Force and Immigration Officers after their unseaworthy boat was found in waters in the Exuma chain on Saturday morning, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force reported.

A release from the RBDF yesterday afternoon said the migrants were detained after being spotted by a Defence Force vessel, HMBS P-45, which was on routine patrol about 13 nautical miles southwest of Barretarre, Exuma.

“Upon further investigation, they discovered the migrants (49 males, 13 females), who all appeared to be in fair health. The migrants were transferred from their unseaworthy vessel and taken aboard the Defence Force craft P-45 and 49 for further processing.”

The migrants form the second large group of Haitians to be apprehended in Bahamian waters since the devastating January 12th earthquake struck Port-au-Prince. Officers reported that the majority of the more than 50 Haitians apprehended off Adelaide, New Providence, on January 25 said they had set off from Port-au-Prince.

Forty-nine from among that group were charged in Magistrate’s Court with illegally landing in the country and sentenced to six months in prison, following Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s announcement that as a result of the earthquake repatriations from The Bahamas to Haiti would be suspended as the Haitian government was not in a position to accept them back into the country.

The origin of this latest group has not been released.

The statement from the force on Saturday’s apprehension differs slightly from that provided by the Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham, and Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest when asked earlier that day about the then unconfirmed reports that a new group of migrants had been detained on Saturday. Speaking at a press conference on the Elizabeth by-election Sunday afternoon, the Prime Minister stated: “There’s a boat in our territorial waters that has not been apprehended but is in a contained position and we expect that boat to be returned to Haiti with its occupants.”

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