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Bahamas Asked to Stop Imprisoning Haitians for Immigration Offenses



Haiti's Chargé d'Affaires in the Bahamas, Dorval Darlier, is bringing to light on a growing trend in the Bahamas of imprisoning Haitians in prisons for months for immigration infractions. Darlier is urging the government to keep violators in detention centers and deporting them and avoided discussing any notion the Bahamian government would seek to benefit from free to cheap prison labor.

Mr. Darlier held talks with Bahamian Attorney General Carl Bethel on these issues. He told the Nassau Guardian, "we discussed a lot of things. I think that the first point of view is that some people are in Fox Hill, a prison, for minor things like the immigration matter. I know that The Bahamas is a country of law, but sometimes you have to see it like the humanitarian way because... there isn't a major crime."

He said that instead of sending illegal Haitian migrants to jail, they should be sent to the detention center "and be repatriated to Haiti," adding "they don't have to spend time in Fox Hill." It is harsh treatment Darlier said. "If you keep someone in jail, you are to take care of them. You are to feed [them]. I think it's [better] for the government to just send them back. It's not a big deal. It's not a big crime. Just ship them back, send them back to Haiti. This is one of the main concerns that we were discussing."

Earlier this month, Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans, said she was prepared to adopt a harsher line of action in dealing with illegal immigrants after indicating that fines do not seem to be a deterrent. In the past, she has issued fines of as much as $3,000 for persons overstaying visas.

The magistrate sentenced several undocumented migrants to prison for immigration offences, including five Haitian men who were sentenced to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services for illegal entering the country. In 2018, Vogt-Evans sentenced a couple to 3 months for landing in the Bahamas.