More than one hundred illegal Haitian migrants have been apprehended in Bahamian waters. They have been brought to the capital and are expected to receive medical attention.
Minister of Labour and Immigration, the Hon. Keith Belle, told ZNS news, “the basics protocols will be followed, that is, you would have the medical team that would ensure that there are no medical issues or health issues. Once that is done then they would be processed and once that is done and due process would follow, of course, they would then be repatriated as soon as we possibly can once we communicate with Haiti to receive them back.”
Commodore Dr. Raymond King of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has reported that they had apprehended approximately 2250 migrants this year. This figure has exceeded the combined sum of the past three years. These latest apprehensions also follow a smuggling operation in which at least seventeen migrants lost their lives at sea this past July.
Minister Belle addressed whether the rise in the capture of illegal migrants would speed up the presentation of the Asylum Bill in Parliament. He said, “we have seen a significant increase in irregular migrants from Cuba and from Haiti, but the good thing is our law enforcement agencies along with our U.S. Coast Guard, they’re doing a marvelous job in terms of intercepting them and ensuring that we detain them and of course that we repatriate as quickly as we can. There are a number of issues and challenges that are being faced by all of our Caribbean islands and certainly The Bahamas, as I have emphasized over and repeatedly, we have to ensure that we protect our interests for our people and future generations. And so whatever we need to do as a government in terms of legislative reform, legislative amendment and the enactment of new pieces of legislation, you will see that.”