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Prisoners to be sent back to Haiti

Published:Friday | March 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Laura Redpath, Senior Staff Reporter

Prisoners who escaped from the Haitian National Penitentiary before arriving in Jamaica on Tuesday will be taken into custody and returned to Haiti to face charges there, the Government has revealed.

Daryl Vaz, the minister with responsibility for information, confirmed that there may be more than three prisoners in Jamaica and photographs along with fingerprints have been taken.

"I know that security has been a major concern and, as indicated before, there has been security screening of all the Haitians who arrived," Vaz said.

The Jamaica authorities are in touch with both Haitian and international authorities to track any criminals who may plan on leaving Haiti, which was affected by an earthquake on January 12.

Vaz said police personnel are at the Port Antonio Seventh-day Adventist Church, where 59 of 62 Haitians are staying. Security measures have also been stepped up with increased patrols over Jamaican waters.

The remaining three are under observation at the Port Antonio Hospital with fever, dehydration, gastro-enteritis and swollen feet.

Vaz confirmed that it will cost $9 million to maintain the 62 people. This includes daily expenses as well as transportation back to Haiti.

He said Jamaica could not host the Haitians for an "extended period of time" and it would be inhumane to turn them back.

"We have to be responsible to our Jamaican people," Vaz said, addressing the financial challenges the country is facing.

According to the minister, funds were earmarked as well as sourced from the private sector for this Haiti relief initiative.

Those who arrived were tested for malaria and the required vaccinations were given. The Ministry of Health is also stocking up on sundries and additional medical supplies, while The Salvation Army and Red Cross provide food and toiletries. Portland residents are also bringing in donations.