AUTHORITIES found a dead body washed ashore on Harbour Island that is suspected to be part of a group of Haitian migrants who were apprehended in Eluethera on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday.
Mr Mitchell said his ministry will push for the boat captain to face murder charges if there is strong evidence to support this.
On Tuesday, officials in Exuma were able to apprehend 92 Haitian migrants who were found at Staniel Cay after their sloop sank. Of that group, there were 72 males, 12 females, and eight children. Mr Mitchell said in Eleuthera, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was able to arrest 15 males, seven females and two children.
“The children and women will be flown out by Saturday. The males will be gone early next week,” he said.
“One dead body floated up at Harbour Island,” Mr Mitchell added. “We believe it is connected with the landing at Eleuthera. We think that we may have identified the captain of the vessel and our intention is to recommend murder charges if the evidence bears it out.
“This once again underlines the seriousness of this matter to the Bahamas. This is not sustainable and cannot be accepted. We must fight it.”
Mr Mitchell also gave an update on the housing situation at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. He said as of Tuesday, there were 255 people held there and the new group of migrants just picked up would be added to this figure.
He also gave a breakdown of illegal immigrant repatriations. From January 2014 to December 2014, 3,868 immigrants were repatriated. Of that figure, there were 3,033 Haitian nationals and 835 other migrants.
From November to December 2014, 529 people were repatriated: 357 of them were Haitian and 172 were other nationalities.
The government introduced its stricter immigration policy on November 1, 2014.
He said from January 2015 to April, 1,528 immigrants were repatriated. Of that number, 1,274 were Haitians and 254 were other nationalities.
Mr Mitchell also told parliamentarians that over the next 18 months to a year, his ministry would spend around $18 million on new border management equipment.
“This will replace what we presently use for immigration applications and for passports. The monies I am advised are in the global provisioning of the Ministry of Finance. I hope that this will relieve some of the pressure which people feel about the length of time it takes to process applications for passports and for immigration applications,” he said.