Haiti Work Agreement To Be Resurrected


Fred Mitchell


Tribune Staff Reporter


AFTER being shelved for a decade, the government is working to resurrect an agreement between Haiti and the Bahamas on work exchange and immigration procedures.

Responding to concerns raised in a preliminary UN report on human trafficking, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell revealed that the agreement tackling the challenges of illegal migration was signed by both countries, but never ratified by the Haitian government after the removal of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Mitchell downplayed fears expressed by UN Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo over the high risk of trafficking victims being criminalised due to rapid processing and repatriation of illegal migrants, and the reported absence of a national action plan to combat the issue.

At last count, 323 migrants were being held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, according to Mr Mitchell, who explained that large numbers were unsustainable for extended periods of time. Mr Mitchell said 221 of the detainees were Haitians.

Restating the government’s strong commitment to the global fight against trafficking, Mr Mitchell said the government had to deal with a “delicate balancing act” to ensure adherence to international requirements within the realm of available resources.

“When you examine the profile of the people who are trafficked normally, you’re really talking about women and children mainly,” Mr Mitchell said. “The profile of the people who come here who are smuggled into the country are mainly male, young males, who appear to be looking for work.

“At the start there is an attempt to establish whether or not there is coercion, whether or not there is political asylum as a claim. 

“One of the reasons,” said Mr Mitchell, “we have to do it as quickly as we do is resources, we have a detention centre that simply cannot sustain large numbers of people over a long period of time.

“It’s just unsustainable, you have to have a quick turnaround procedure, and you have to balance the requirements of (trafficking in persons), the requirements of refugee status, against the humane interests of all of the people involved.

“You don’t always get it right, but the point is for all of our international partners to know that the Bahamas government has a commitment to fighting this issue.”

At the end of the first visit by an independent expert from the UN Human Rights Council to the country, Ms Ezeilo issued preliminary recommendations to the government on the issue of human trafficking in the country.

Pointing to the high level of migration to the Bahamas, Ms Ezeilo criticised the government for not having statistical data about the scale of trafficking in the country, and a uniform policy on the identification of victims.

Her findings echoed concerns raised in a US State Department report earlier this year.

Mr Mitchell declined to elaborate on existing protocols on screening, stating that it was within the purview of the Ministry of National Security.

Pointing to the high demand for cheap domestic labour, and reports of labour exploitation of migrants, Ms Ezeilo also urged the government to implement policies to create safe and legal migrant opportunities through bilateral cooperation with countries in the region.

Yesterday, Mr Mitchell said the government has received assurances from Haitian president Michel Martelly that any available resources will be invested to stem the flow of illegal migrants from his country. 

“In the Aristide administration in Haiti,” said Mr Mitchell, “we settled an agreement on all of these measures in terms of recruitment of workers, how the immigration procedures ought to be handled, intelligence officers in the north of Haiti. The problem is Mr Aristide was overthrown, the agreement was never ratified by the Haitian parliament.

“It’s signed by the two parties, but it’s still outstanding, the last administration did nothing, we’re trying to get it started again,” he said.

“One of the things we’ve asked is for publicity in the north of Haiti, to tell people do not make this very dangerous journey and the fact is we’re trying by this procedure that we’re following to make sure that people know if you get caught you’re going back home, and you’re going back home as quickly as possible.”

Mr Mitchell also underscored additional initiatives to dissuade employers for hiring illegal migrants, which include: not issuing work permits for persons with no proof of legal entry to the Bahamas; immigration checks, and further consideration to stiffen penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.

Mr Aristide was ousted during his second term in a 2004 coup d’état, which he accused the United States of orchestrating. He returned to the country in 2011 after seven years of exile in the Central African Republic.

Mr Aristide was Haiti’s first democratically elected president, however, his first term was suspended from 1991-1994 due to a coup by the Haitian military.  


ohdrap4 6 years, 3 months ago

Can someone find a precedent of an employer being fined for hiring an illegal immigrant?


Freddie needs to submit to an historical DNA test, that gives the percentage nationality.

(Ad hominem attached, since the article, after all, involves FM)


TalRussell 6 years, 3 months ago

Curious, if the minister would be willing to share with Bahamalanders as to how many illegal Haitians, if any over the past 5 years, who were in fact granted political asylum refugee status by Bahamaland's government? Political asylum should only apply to individuals who, if deported back to Haiti would certainly face harsh political punishment, political harassment, political imprisonment, or even a politically ordered death sentence?


Reality_Check 6 years, 3 months ago

We need to find a way to deport little boy loving Freddie back to Haiti!


SP 6 years, 3 months ago

"Yesterday, Mr. Mitchell said the government has received assurances from Haitian president Michel Martelly that any available resources will be invested to stem the flow of illegal migrants from his country."

WHAT ANY AVAILABLE RESOURCES IS MARTELLY talking about? Haiti has NO RESOURCES except 9.5 Million starving people trying to get out!


Mr. Mitchell also underscored additional initiatives to dissuade employers for hiring illegal migrants, which include: not issuing work permits for persons with no proof of legal entry to the Bahamas; immigration checks, and further consideration to stiffen penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.


Immigration has NO TEETH....Stop talking and start doing for CHRIST sake...Start prosecuting employers who hire illegal workers immediately.

WANT TO SERIOUSLY GET THEIR ATTENTION? Charge them $5,000.00 and repatriation cost for each illegal worker they are caught with.


TalRussell 6 years, 3 months ago

A number of countries actually do charge a "repatriation cost" but not against their homeland's government. If they are ever allowed to return legally they repay the government for the costs of theirs and any family members deportation back to their homeland. The government will not process your immigration application, unless you have reimbursed their out pocket costs.


Bahamianpride 6 years, 3 months ago

10,000 fine for anyone caught hiring an illegal immigrant, 10,000 fine and 5 years in prison for anyone caught participating in the trafficking of illegal immigrants.. 10,000 fine for anyone caught housing or hiding an illegal immigrant plus minimum of 2 years in prison...Problem solved.... Lets help the people of Haiti as much as humanely possible, but no more people the boat is full & we have too many social problems to deal with at this time..Check back later when the murder number is at 0-10 for the year. When armed Robbery is down 90%. When Government corruption and incompetance is reduce drastically... Check back when any Bahamian feels comfortable walking all of East Street from end to end at 11:00 p.m. on any night. Check back when people are not terrorfied in there own homes and looking over there shoulder scared in the parking lot of the grocery store..


john33xyz 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Martelly will keep talking and talking and talking. The Government of the Bahamas simply does not realize that we are at WAR with Haiti. It is an undeclared war by them on us. They have sent forward an invasion force - who are making excellent progress toward their goals. Meanwhile, the "enemy" (us) simply do not even know we are at war and under attack.

But, ignorance is bliss. Anybody got any crack conch? Let's go have a Junkanoo in the new stadium.


ProfessorTinker 6 years, 3 months ago

Good points made but, Bahamians have been hiring illegal immigrants for years. But people you need to worry about what else is going on in your country. The Jamaicans have a huge presence in the Bahamas.


TalRussell 6 years, 3 months ago

Is it true or false? That the day has arrived whereby Bahamalanders must be rightly concerned over the way the Bahamaland they helped to create has now become a country out to marginalize their role in the Bahamaland of tomorrow? Are they so wrong for asking, if they have to give away their Bahamaland to other nationalities? Or, is it already gone beyond their control? Will the new Bahamalanders all laugh at the other Bahamalanders for allowing their Bahamaland to slip away from them. like a thief will come in the middle of the night? Will they even be able to speak the new dialect(s) of the Bahamaland, of tomorrow? Many say that already today that they cannot even understand the different language(s) often spoken on our radio stations. How long will it be before the Tribune also switches over to publishing in another language(s)? Will soon will it be before the government run ZNS drops English from their radio and television broadcasts? Is it already too late? comrades i draw no conclusions. Simply asking the right questions few in our government seem to want asked?


TalRussell 6 years, 3 months ago

The problem is that once you accepted gifts from the "Communist" Chinese government, Bahamalanders will never have the access to scratch the surface of exactly what was agreed to. Once you start scratching back the surface it suddenly gets pretty damn complicated.


john33xyz 6 years, 3 months ago

So does this mean it will be EASY for me to get a work permit to work in Haiti?


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