FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell led a delegation to Haiti yesterday for bilateral talks on the issues of human trafficking, human smuggling and co-operation in agriculture.
The first action item was the announcement on March 25 of the full 22-member Bahamas National Reparation Committee pursuant to a ten-point plan adopted by CARICOM at the 35th Inter-Sessional meetings held in St Vincent on March 10-11 to pursue debt cancellation and an apology from specific European countries for the atrocity of the transatlantic slave trade.
Accompanying Minister Mitchell are State Minister for National Security, Senator Keith Bell, Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Roderick Bowe and Foreign Service Officer, Wilfred Adderley.
The group will be joined by Bahamian Ambassador to Haiti, Godfrey Rolle.
While in Haiti, the delegation is scheduled to meet with that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Richard Casimir; Interior Minister, David Drazile’ and Trade Minister Wilson Lalau.
When the controversial citizenship law enacted by the government of the Dominican Republic against Haitian nationals living there was tabled at the St Vincent CARICOM meetings, the Bahamas took the opportunity to voice its concerns over its own illegal migration issues. A decision was taken at that time that both countries would continue this dialogue bilaterally.
On the issue of direct trade between Haiti and the Bahamas, Minister Mitchell in particular was quite vocal about the need for phyto-sanitary protocols to international standards to facilitate direct trade between the two countries in agricultural products.
The Bahamas imports mangoes and plantains grown in Haiti, but by way of the United States because of the absence of the requisite phyto-sanitary measures in Haiti.
The delegation is due back in the Bahamas on Friday.