Walton-Desir calls out President Ali over “hypocritical” CARICOM stance on Haiti

Walton-Desir calls out President Ali over “hypocritical” CARICOM stance on Haiti

Opposition Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir, who shadows the Foreign Affairs Ministry, is calling out the President Irfaan Ali, over what she sees as his “hypocritical” position on Haiti and its citizens. In a statement, she reminded that it was the Government of President Ali that reinstituted visa restrictions on Haitians, just after taking office in 2020.

At the opening of the ongoing CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, the President said the Region must ensure that the people of Haiti realize their full potential. “We owe this to the people of Haiti,” the President said.

But MP Walton-Desir said while the President talks that talk before other regional leaders, his Government’s record on Haiti and the treatment of Haitians do not match his talk.

“It was Irfaan Ali and his Government that revoked the visa-free travel arrangement that had been signed into law by former President David Granger. The executive order, Guyana remember, would have allowed Haitian brothers and sisters, in keeping with Guyana’s obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, to come to Guyana, to be entitled to an automatic six month stay, and they didn’t require a visa. One of Irfaan Ali’s first order of business was to revoke that order,” the Opposition MP said.

MP Walton-Desir said the action of the Ali Administration contravened the decision of the regional leaders taken at the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in July 2018, which recognized the rights of Haitian nationals to an automatic stay of six months upon arrival in CARICOM member states.

She said in an attempt to justify his decision, the President through the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, framed the issue as one of preventing human trafficking and smuggling.

MP Walton-Desir cited the case of the 26 Haitians who were detained by the State for several weeks on the grounds that they were being trafficked, before being “dumped” on the streets of Georgetown ahead of a Court ruling.

“We remember as well that it was the Chief Justice of Guyana that struck down the deportation order that was obtained for these 26 Haitian brothers and sisters. You remember that the government had gone to court and they had obtained a deportation order. You remember as well that the Chief Justice said that, that order had not been obtained in accordance with the rules of natural justice, and that the deportation order flouted and infringed the constitutional provisions enshrined in the Guyana Constitution,” MP Walton-Desir said.

To date, she said no one has ever been charged for the alleged human trafficking in relation to the detained Haitians.

The Opposition MP said the reality is, when compared to the Venezuelan migrants, Haitians are treated differently, though both Venezuela and Haiti are experiencing political and socio-economic crisis.

“We agree that there is a humanitarian crisis on our western border. The Government of Guyana has been vociferous in terms of the justification for the aid and the accommodation that it continues to provide for Venezuelan migrants. They proffer that Venezuelans are fleeing from political unrest and economic hardship but Irfaan Ali and his Government must explain to us how the situation being faced by our Haitian brothers and sisters is any different from what is being faced by our Venezuelan brothers and sisters,” she reasoned.

There are currently thousands of Venezuelan migrants residing in Guyana.

The Opposition MP is now challenging President Ali, and his Government to reverse his decision on the visa restictions.

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