The Chief Justice removes orders for the deportation of Haitian nationals

Haitians outside a hotel in South Road, Georgetown. [Photo taken from News Room]

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, on Wednesday annulled the orders for the deportation of 26 Haitian nationals who arrived in Guyana last November, agreeing that it violates natural justice and the fundamental rights provided by under the Guyana Constitution.

“Based on the application before this court, there was a breach of natural justice regarding the issuing of the deportation orders,” Justice George maintained.

According to the Chief Justice, from her understanding of Sections 16 and 28 of the Immigration Act, “the topics [Haitian nationals] they should have been taken to court so they can be heard, ”before any further action is taken against them.

Justice George found that Article 139 of the Constitution which provides for the protection of liberty and Article 148 which guarantees the protection of freedom of movement had been breached, having considered how the Haitian nationals were detained and ordered then deported.

Based on the other basic rights provisions, namely Articles 141, 142, 143, 144, and 149, the interim Chief Justice said that insufficient evidence had been led to support a finding of infringement.

All other orders sought by Allandres Archer, who filed the application on behalf of the Haitians challenging the constitutionality of the deportation orders, including one seeking a referral to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to air issues related to the Revised Chaguaramas Agreement and rejected another who sought compensation.

Given that the foreign nationals had been released from State custody, the interim Chief Justice made no orders for court costs. Earlier this month, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, filed an application on behalf of Archer and the State asking the court to dismiss the challenge set by Archer.

In his grounds of support for the application, Nandlall submitted that a video was circulating in which Archer stated that he did not authorize Attorney-in-law Darren Wade to file a lawsuit on his own behalf against the State challenging the deportation of 26 nationals Haitian. .

Nandlall had argued that since evidence surfaced that Wade filed the deed without Archer’s consent, it was fundamentally flawed as it violated certain sections of the 2016 Civil Procedure Rules and constituted a default , and that she should be dismissed.

However, after considering the evidence uncovered by Nandlall, including Archer’s video, Justice George noted that if the applicant [Archer] disagreed with the validity of the request, he could have done so himself, as he “clearly understood that he could have sought legal advice to withdraw the application”.

“He [Archer] was on one of Zoom’s calls, so it’s not like he’s not aware of what was happening… ”In this regard, the acting Chief Justice expressed that it was a” strange passing “that Archer had said one thing in the video and has done the opposite.

For his part, Wade told the court he has never been instructed by his ‘client’ to withdraw the matter. “If the applicant wanted to withdraw the application, then he should have done it himself,” Justice George told the Attorney General.
Given the above, Justice George told Nandlall that his request to annul Archer’s action was unreasonable and denied.

On November 7, 2020, the 26 Haitians arrived in Guyana and were arrested. Those arrested were 10 men, nine women, and seven children (two boys and five girls). They were detained by the Police, who said, at the time, they were discovered to have entered the country illegally through Suriname. Police said the foreign nationals were on their way to neighboring Brazil at the time of the interception.

They were escorted to the Department of Criminal Investigations (CID) headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown, where they were later questioned and taken into custody at the Hugo Chávez State-owned Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center after for officers to suspect they were victims of people smuggling.

On December 1, 2020, they were taken before a City Magistrate who issued orders to Guyana Police (GPF) for deportation. It was reported that the Haitians were being deported for lying to immigration officials about where they would stay while in Guyana violating the Immigration Act.

The following day, the Chief Justice ordered a conservatory suspending their deportation until she heard and pronounced the challenge Archer had brought. A week later, the Government released foreign nationals from custody with their passports at a city hotel of their choice until the case is heard and decided.

The Haitians later disappeared from the hotel while the court case continued, leading officials to suspect they had fled the country. The Government had initially said they were clearly victims of smuggling, as the children were without their parents, immigration laws were broken, and they all gave a direction that didn’t exist.