Thu | Jun 20, 2019

Bahamas temporarily halts deportations to Haiti

Published:Sunday | February 17, 2019 | 10:36 AM
Haitians trying to enter Bahamas illegally by boat.

NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – The Bahamas government says it has temporarily ceased all deportations to Haiti as a result of the political unrest in that French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

“The decision follows the temporary closure of The Bahamas Embassy in Port-au-Prince and the recall of all diplomatic and consular staff,” the government said in a statement.

It said in anticipation of a potential increase of illegal migration from Haiti, Bahamian security forces have been placed on high alert.

“As a protective measure, the Government is also preparing a temporary detention centre in Matthew Town, Inagua, which will be staffed with personnel from relevant ministries and government agencies, as to deal with any resultant eventualities.”

Bahamian officials have in the past called on Haitians not to undertake the dangerous voyage by sea to enter the country illegally. Earlier this month, 31 Haitians drowned when their vessel ran aground in waters off Abaco. The authorities said 18 others who had been rescued would be deported.

“The department’s policy in reference to the handling of the illegal migrants remains the same. There has been no change in regard to this policy,” the Department of Immigration said.

Opposition political parties in Haiti have been staging street demonstrations in support of their calls for President Moise to step down, after accusing him of not investigating allegations of corruption in the previous government over PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

At least seven people have been killed in the protests so far. Several others have been injured in clashes with police.