Haitian Nationals Detained; Immigration Officers Are Concerned
Concerns of officers at the Department of Immigration have been brewing amidst the reported maltreatment of a Haitian couple that arrived in Belize over the weekend. One of them is a woman who is six months pregnant and was hospitalized due to health complications. Since then, it has been reported that the couple has now been relocated to a hotel, where they are currently detained. According to their attorney, Rene Montero Jr., the couple has been unlawfully detained, and in a letter written to the Immigration Department, he states that they have not been given food and water during their stay. The situation with the Haitian couple has caused concern among immigration officers, who feel that their colleagues have not handled the situation appropriately. Today, during a media session with the UNHCR’s Regional Representative, Philippa Candler, she explained that the department must address this issue according to the law and introduce appropriate measures to manage the situation effectively.
Philippa Candler, High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representative, UNHCR: “I’m not aware of this particular case so it’s difficult to comment on that but I mean it is true that the situation in Haiti is of concern to UNHCR as well as many countries in the region for obvious reasons. We recently issued, a couple of months ago I think it was , a non return advisory on Haitians which basically means that from UNHCR’s point of view we advise against forced return of people to Haiti. So that’s a bit the situation that we have with regard to Haitians and we would certainly say to Haitians if they need to apply for international protection they should be able to do so and they should be considered on a case by case basis.”