Attorney raises concerns as search continues for Haitians
Gareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer email@example.com
ONE HUMAN rights campaigner is urging caution as the authorities continue their search for an undetermined number of Haitian nationals who abandoned their vessel after arriving in Portland on Sunday night.
Nine of the Haitians were intercepted by the police near Hope Bay in the eastern parish on Monday and were screened and processed by the local health department before being transported to a holding area in Manchioneal.
Malene Alleyne of human rights lobby Freedom Imaginaries, who has been one of the most strident advocates for refugees from the French-speaking CARICOM country in the last few months, said she was not successful in her attempt to start the process to file an application for asylum on behalf on the latest arrivals.
Alleyne, who is also an attorney-at-law, argued that the haste in which they were transferred to a holding area could be an indication that they would be returned to their homeland in short order.
She said that although she visited the Port Antonio Health Centre on Tuesday and requested to speak to the Haitians, her request was denied.
According to Alleyne, since September, her efforts to speak to respective groups of Haitians who have landed in Portland have been futile. On both occasions, she was denied access to them by Jamaican officials.
Police sources said that the Haitians, who arrived on Sunday, managed to flee the area with the aid of another male Haitian national, who has been living in St James for more than two years.
According to the police, they intercepted a taxi near Hope Bay in Portland sometime on Monday and found the nine Haitians aboard, along with the man who has been living in Jamaica.
While it remains unclear exactly how many Haitians landed at Long Road in Portland, police sources said items of clothing belonging to men, women and children were discovered in the 28-foot sailboat.
No child was among the nine so far found.
The vessel was reportedly set ablaze by Jamaican officials.