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Date d'inscription : 02/03/2007
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|Sujet: Kounyea Ayisyen ap kite Jamayiken eksplwate yo tou. Koumanman! Mer 7 Mai 2008 - 15:35|| |
Smuggled Haitians get measly wages for work in Jamaica
BY KIMONE THOMPSON Observer senior reporter email@example.com
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
HAITIANS smuggled into Jamaica as part of a human smuggling ring have been receiving measly wages for work done on construction sites, among other jobs offered.
"Recently we heard that in Portland people were paying them (Haitians) $250 per day to do work, which is pathetic. They give them food then pay them $250 a day to do construction work and all those things," according to Inspector Steve Brown, spokesman for Operation Kingfish.
A group of Haitians after their arrival in Jamaica.
"We know that when Jamaicans go up to Haiti to smuggle drugs, they bring back Haitians with them and use them to do odd jobs but as far as a number, we don't have that," Inspector Brown added.
He did say however that since the middle of 2007, 11 persons (mostly Jamaicans) have been arrested on charges including human trafficking and that there are now seven such cases befor ethe court.
"Not every Haitian who comes here does so of his own will," a Haitian source with intimate knowledge of the situation told the Observer. "I know of Jamaicans living in Haiti, particularly in the south in places like Cité de Soleil, they are the ones taking people here. They smuggle arms and promise people, especially young girls, that they will get them jobs in Jamaica and when they get them here they hand them over to other people," the source said.
Another source, who does work with Haitians detained here, reported that victims paid up to US$600 for trips after being told they would have taken them to Miami, but taken to Jamaica instead.
"These are people who sell their goats, their house, any and everything they have to get that US$600 and when they come here there is nothing. And it's not like they can return because there is nothing to return to," said the source.
Haitians have always been coming to Jamaica but they started fleeing in droves in 2004 when a rebel coup ousted then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Observer that of the number of Jamaicans who have arrived here since 2000, only 25 have been granted asylum. Spokesman for the ministry, Wilton Dyer, couldn't immediately supply the total number of asylum seekers to have come but said that it had been "less than 1,000 since 2004".
Chargé d'affaires at the Haitian embassy in Jamaica, Max Alcé, told the Observer that between 2005 and 2007, 751 Haitians were repatriated. Four hundred and six were done in 2005 alone while the remainder is split between 2006 and 2007. He couldn't say however, how many were being detained because "(the police) do not advise us when they hold Haitians until months later when they need an interpreter to take them to court or when they are getting ready to deport them".
Observer investigations revealed, however, that another 13 were sent home via a chartered flight on April 25. Up to that date, we were only aware of three others who were in lock-up. The three Haitians and a Honduran who have been charged with illegal entry and illegal possession of firearm have been in custody since last year when they were picked up at sea by local police. When they turned up in the Gun Court last Tuesday, they were remanded in custody because their legal aid attorneys reportedly had other cases.
"They are all over the place illegally but it's difficult sometimes to identify them when we go into the areas unless they speak. Asylum has been granted to a number of them but there are a number of them here who are illegal and they become involved in other things like the guns for drugs trade between Jamaica and Haiti," Inspector Brown said.
"Some of them may come to find jobs and they'll work sometimes with the fishermen and other people on the beach (but) people take them and use them for different purposes... (and) some of them are being used by Jamaicans," he said.
Our sources agreed that the frequency of smuggling trips between Haiti and Jamaica and the openness of Jamaica's borders made it difficult to keep track of the number of Haitians who come to Jamaica by boat. They said, however, that trafficking in persons plays a considerable role in the trafficking of arms and drugs between the two countries. And according to them, Jamaicans are heavily involved.
Said Brown: "There is evidence to support the guns for drugs trade between Jamaica and Haiti. Drug dealers leave from almost anywhere in Jamaica. You have to understand that our borders are porous and against that background, they just go anywhere and exchange guns. They can leave from Manchester, from St Catherine, from Portland and bring back guns to Jamaica.
"We arrested some in St Elizabeth last year coming from Haiti. We arrested another St Elizabeth syndicate led by this man 'Lazarus'. We have 15 persons before the court from the St Elizabeth syndicate alone. The drugs for guns trade is major challenge for us and we have focus groups looking directly at that. For the human trafficking aspect, what we do is once they are caught we give them the full book. We don't go after the bigger charge and leave the one that may seem lesser," he said.
"Once they are caught they are arrested then sent home," said Brown, who later added that a public education programme warning Haitians of the consequences of entering the island illegally would be ideal but has not been pursued because "it's not our jurisdiction".
Since Operation Kingsfish began the 'Get the Guns' campaign in the middle of last year they have seized 115 firearms and 12 motorboats and have arrested 43 persons, both Jamaicans and Haitians.
Other than human trafficking and the search for a better life, the Kingfish spokesman said Haitians, particularly women, also come to Jamaica searching for the Jamaican fathers of their children.
"Jamaicans go up there and father children with some of these women and these women then come to Jamaica to find the fathers of their children."
Nonetheless, a Haitian lawyer with whom the Observer spoke said Jamaicans are discriminating and are giving Haitians a bad name. He alleged that some locals who get in trouble with the law here pretend they are Haitians, and use the opportunity to join their criminal network once they are deported.
"I'm sure there are some involved in drugs and gangs and things like that but we're not the worst in the world. It's Jamaica that's known all over the world as one of the most violent countries...We're paying for something we did 204 years ago. We're being accused of everything and I don't know when it's going to stop," he said.
"Most Haitians we've talked with have complained about the treatment they've been receiving at the Horizon Remand Centre," said another lawyer who requested anonymity.
"In terms of food, they say they don't eat well. They get things they don't eat and if they complain, nobody pays attention. They sleep on the floor, they don't have clothes and even after the judge orders deportation, they stay in jail for a long time."
He gave the example of a woman who was arrested in St Thomas and fined $5,000 for illegal entry. The sum, he said, was paid by the woman's Jamaican boyfriend but up to two weeks ago, she was still in custody.
"In court, they are not questioned. It is decided beforehand whether they'll be sentenced to a fine, jail or be deported (...) They'll always give them a lawyer but he tells them to plead guilty even when the guys are not guilty," he said.