by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): During a Special Interview with the press, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, was asked to comment on the deportation of 13 Haitians that entered Nevis on February 02.
The 13 individuals were intercepted when the captain of the vessel, a Dominican captain and a Haitian man came ashore at Gallows Bay and walked through Bath Village. Both were taken into custody and charged with breaching immigration laws.
The 13 other immigrants were detained at the Hanley’s Road Community Center- Nevis and subsequently moved to a facility on St. Kitts.
Attorney-at-Law Craig Tuckett is leading the cause for several Haitians and succeeded in stopping the deportation of the immigrants.
The Prime Minister indicated that the Haitian situation was near and dear to him, especially coming off the heels of the recent CARICOM heads meeting in the Bahamas, where the leaders of regional governments pledged to play a leading role in confronting insecurity in Haiti.
“However, recently, we have been having some boats that have been going from South through our waters to other countries close to us. Two of the boats their engine shut down, and so the boat with the passengers was stranded. Our Coast Guard picked them up and actually fix the engine for the board, but if you pick up people, you have to treat them with respect and treat them humanely. And so we took them on because we can’t participate in human trafficking; these people are trafficking human beings. They are being paid a lot to transport the Haitians. Let us not think that this is some raft that’s come from Haiti down to St.Kitts. These are people who understand what is happening in Haiti, and they are participating in human trafficking.”
For the second time since taking office, the Prime Minister has faced the trafficking of Haitians to the Federation, which has brought the debate of legal and illegal migrations of refugees.
“This is not the first one, this is the second one that I know of since I’ve been the Prime Minister, and so we treat them with respect. My first thing to do we have to treat them with respect. You have to treat them humanely. These are our brothers and sisters from the region. However, the decision is we cannot participate in human trafficking, and therefore, we must follow the law and the rules and regulations. That if [people] enter the water illegally, we must take the necessary actions which we are taking. That is what you are doing. And if somebody uses the law to provide an injunction on whatever grounds, then that is the law. We respect the law. But what we will always say is that while they are here, they must be treated respectfully and humanely and not be abused.”
At the end of his comment on the Haitian Migration, the Prime Minister reiterated that St. Kitts and Nevis should not send the message that the country is a safe haven.
” If you send a message out there that you are a safe haven, you are easily overrun; there’s a risk. And then you cannot participate also in human trafficking. And so, it is a difficult question. I’m not even pretending that it is an easy question, and that is why we are participating with the CARICOM – and there’s another high-level meeting after a visit from one of the CARICOM Prime ministers in Jamaica to address the issue more wholesomely.” – St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew.