Guyanese Nationals Alleging Mistreatment in St. Kitts & Nevis

The problems though, said the Guyanese who wrote to one of his local newspapers in Georgetown, is more pronounced in Nevis and not so much so on the sister island of St. Kitts.

The abuse of his fellow countrymen took a different and more discriminatory tone six years ago, following the island elections that were held in 2006 and won by the Nevis Reformation Party, NRP, which at the time was in opposition, seeking a return to government.

According to the complainant, “From the year 2006, since the NRP-led government took over the reins of the Nevis Island Administration, Guyanese have been targeted, abused and mistreated by Immigration Officers, who are closely connected to the ruling party.”

The writer of the article said, “I am a proud native of Guyana and a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. I am hurt of the manner in which my fellow Guyanese are treated on Nevis but there are no representations from Guyana. I can recall instances in which reports were made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regards to several incidences of abused Guyanese and to date it seems as though these incidences were never addressed. I could also, if my memory allows, recall instances where Guyanese in Antigua and Barbados were experiencing the said problems and their matters were addressed publicly by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Government of Guyana.”

It is alleged that Guyanese who migrate to St. Kitts and Nevis have had to encounter much discrimination and insults meted out against them, sometimes at the very port of entry.

“There are several Guyanese who have entered through the Vance. W. Amory Airport in Nevis as first time visitors who have had their passports upon entry seized by Immigration authorities, or forced to take the returning flights for reasons unknown. Many are sometimes placed in smelly, rat-infested holding cells and are forced to sleep on cold concrete floors without proper toilet and bathroom facilities, as if they are condemned prisoners. There are instances where family members are not even allowed to see or speak to them,” charged the Guyanese writer.

To support their claims, an account, which at this time cannot substantiate, spoke to an incident 3 years ago. “In the year 2009, a young lady from Guyana was travelling from Trinidad and Tobago, where she works, to visit family members in Nevis. On arrival in Nevis at the airport, an Immigration Officer wrongfully identified the female as another lady who was previously sent back to Guyana. She was forced to take a LIAT flight to Guyana.” It is said that this matter was reported to the Guyanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but to date, no action has been taken, claim the writer of the article.

While recounting another alleged experience, the writer said, “In December 2011, another Guyanese female arrived in the Federation to get married to her Guyanese fiancé. On her arrival, she was held by Immigration authorities in St. Kitts. After not seeing her through Immigration, her boyfriend decided to question Immigration authorities only to be told that she was being processed to leave on an available flight back to Guyana. She was taken to the check-in lounge and, in the presence of several travelers, ordered in an inhumane manner to empty her suitcase and hand over what she had brought for persons from Guyana. It was obvious that persons looking on were embarrassed and annoyed.”

It is also the argument that at present, there is a young lady from Guyana who is being held at the Charlestown Police Station by Immigration. She arrived at the Vance. W. Amory Airport in Nevis and was accused of traveling to Nevis to vote in the Nevis elections, according to the article.

“She was travelling to Nevis for the very first time to visit family members. She was harassed and had her passport seized. Efforts were made to retrieve the passport to regularize her status but her passport could not be found in Nevis.”

“To date, she has not seen her passport and was picked up by Immigration authorities. Relatives were told by a female Immigration Officer to purchase a return ticket for her to travel back to Guyana. The ticket was bought the said day. The female officer was contacted and she said that the young lady would be held in custody until the following morning. The following morning when relatives visited the station, they heard she would not be released even though Immigration authorities held her passport and a valid travel ticket. It was shocking that the young lady was not allowed a bathe even though she was menstruating. That young lady was kept two days before being allowed to take a bath.”

For too long, persons in authority in Guyana have been silent on complaints made by Guyanese nationals resident in the twin Island Federation, said author of the article, who said they would like to ask the authorities in Georgetown, Guyana the following questions:

(a) Is Guyana a member state of CARICOM?

(b) Is Caribbean Integration working for Guyanese nationals in St. Kitts and Nevis?

(c) Did St. Kitts and Nevis sign the agreement, similar to other CARICOM countries, which allows for Guyanese visitors and CARICOM nationals up to six months to stay?

d) Is it within the rights of the Immigration Officers at the port of entry in St. Kitts and Nevis to withhold passports?

The concerned Guyanese said they are looking forward for the relevant authorities (in Guyana) to address these matters urgently to bring an end to the inhumane treatment of Guyanese.

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