ComPol Says the Continue to Monitor Haitians Moving Through Belize
The Belize Police Department (BPD) continues to monitor the movement of undocumented Haitian nationals into the country. Police have reportedly set up strategic checkpoints around the northern parts of the country to stop migrants from using Belize as a bridge to cross into North America from the Caribbean. A group of Haitians was reportedly taken into custody for investigation; however, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, says that the BPD must tread lightly around this matter to not infringe on the rights of these persons.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “When it comes to Hatians we have to extremely careful. You’re all aware of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which provides for the free movements of CARICOM nationals within CARICOM member states and so Hatians do have that right because they are CARICOM citizens to move around within the region so long as it is done in conformity with the local immigration laws ie. you came into the country through the ordinary or legal border and you would have to declare to immigration where you’ll be staying, with who you will be staying and these sort of things. And I guess it was on that basis that the others who came before eventually had to be released. If it is that we were to keep these people in custody longer than necessary them we open ourselves to be sued and taken before the Caribbean Court of Justice. I guess you all would be aware of a case between Barbados and Jamaica when a Jamaican national went to Barbados and she was mistreated in Barbados and she took the Barbados government to the CCJ and they declared that the manner in which she was treated as a CARICOM citizen was a violation of her rights and they awarded her a large sum of money for that. So it is something we have to look at as a people I’m sure that the Immigration Department knows what they’re doing and how they’re going to address the issue we just need to ensure that whatever we do it does not give the appearance that we’re facilitating human smuggling.”