Although the 26 Haitian nationals who were detained for weeks at the Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center, left Guyana, yesterday Chief Justice Roxane George denied a request from Attorney General Anil Nandlall to reject the pending application and filed on their behalf the state alleged infringement of their fundamental rights.
During a virtual hearing yesterday afternoon, Nandlall told the court that the whereabouts of the 26 Haitians are unknown and requested that the case be dismissed as the subjects of the application are no longer in the jurisdiction.
He noted that he had written a letter to attorney Darren Wade, who has been representing the immigrants’ interest, asking him to disclose their locations or present them to court during the hearing. He said he never received a response.
“I do not believe that the individuals on whose behalf this case is filed are within the jurisdiction of Guyana and, therefore, I ask on that basis that the application be refused,” noted Nandlall.
Wade, who had started the hearing by requesting an extension of time, said he received an email from Nandlall about the matter and has confronted his client, who told him he had been communicating with individuals from RE Chambers. He subsequently admitted that the Haitians had indeed left the jurisdiction but added that he believed there were serious issues in the case that needed to be addressed and that the court should at least make statements on the matter as their rights have been violated.
He further argued that the law does not say that the applicant’s subjects need to be in jurisdiction for the court to decide whether to proceed with the matter.
Following his argument, Nandlall denied the allegations that he had been in contact with Wade’s client and noted that while the attorney claims to have a client, he does not have.
“[The applicant] represents 26 people who are no longer here. The court should not act in vain. The court should not act solely where the judgment is of academic importance … The only narrative in the law before the court is our affidavit, which in reply has not been rejected or taken as a subject. So this case is far from proven and I invite the court now that the issues matter [are no longer here], the litigation is beyond the territorial jurisdictions of this court [and I ask] the court to respect … refused to pursue this matter further. This is exactly what the state was claiming in the first place, that the very doubt that the state had when it activated its processes and took these individuals into custody is exactly what has played out, ”he added .
However, the Chief Justice noted that, based on her assessment of the application, a number of issues needed to be addressed on the submissions submitted by the state. He said the issues that need to be addressed are not necessarily academic but for future guidance on how such an issue should be dealt with. He then denied the extension he was requesting to Wade and told Nandlall that he will proceed with the case, emphasizing that he assumed that the applicant no longer has the authority to proceed with the case from his currently representing a group of people not in the country. He noted that the absence of a candidate’s subjects in court and by extension the country does not mean that they do not want to proceed with the case.
Meanwhile, mentioning some of the issues she wants to clarify and address, Justice George noted that she was trying to understand at what point the subjects were no longer considered victims of trafficking in people and at what point were they determined to be banned immigrants. She added that she also wanted to know the status of the topics between November 8th and November 30th, among many other things.
The next hearing is set for January 27th at 3 o’clock for clarification or adjudication.
Just over a week ago Justice George-Wiltshire granted a conservatory pending a previous order made by Chief Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus for the 26 Haitian nationals to be deported.
The foreign nationals, including seven children, had been detained for weeks at the state-run Hugo Chavez Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center.
They were to be deported for allegedly lying around where they would be staying during their visit to Guyana.
According to Wade, the act is “arbitrary” and was carried out with a clear disregard for his clients’ rights to natural justice.
“They were not informed of the allegation and were not allowed to respond. There is no evidence I have seen to support the claim made in the claims, ”he had previously told Stabroek News in an invited comment.
The Ministry of Home Affairs announced in the latter part of November that the Haitian nationals had been found after police conducted two search and cordon exercises in Georgetown and District Ten.
Some Haitian nationals were found at a city hotel, while others were found in a minibus on the Linden-Mabura road.
According to a ministry statement, the discovery was made as part of an investigation into a suspected human smuggling racket and human trafficking.
However, the Haitians have denied any involvement in human trafficking.
Wade, in presenting their case, had argued that since detainees did not commit any offense or were charged with any crime, detaining them was illegal.
However, the Attorney General’s Chambers had revealed that Haitians were being held in custody for deportation.