Haitian national fined $2000.00 for overstaying in Dominica

According to the charge read to the Defendant by the clerk of Court yesterday, the Defendant failed to present himself to an Immigration Officer after having failed to leave Dominica after his visa ended.

“On the 1st day of June, 2008 and 12th day of August, 2011 at Roseau being a visitor to the state having entered at the Melville Hall Airport on the 1st day of May, 2008 and was permitted one month stay; you did fail to leave the state before the end of your time permitted without presenting yourself to an Immigration Officer contrary to the provisions of Section 35:3(C)of Chapter 18:01 of the Dominica Revised Laws of 1901.”

Mr. Dosigner through an interpreter Ms. Immanuel Andrew a teacher at the Pierre Charles Secondary School pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to the facts presented by the Police Prosecutor,

“On the 1st of May, 2008 the Defendant arrived in the Commonwealth of Dominica at the Melville Hall Airport. He was given one month stay and has been in Dominica since. He has never went to the Immigration Office for an extension of stay even when an amnesty was granted to all Haitians residing in Dominica. On the 12th of August, 2011 at about 10:00am the Defendant went to the Immigration Office in Roseau. Constable Challenger was attending to the Defendant and indicated to the Defendant in creole. He inspected the Defendant’s passport and saw that the Defendant entered Dominica in 2008. He asked the Defendant why he didn’t come for an extension and he replied, ‘I was afraid to come.’ He was asked if he knew of an amnesty for all Haitians after the earthquake and he replied, ‘Yes but I was afraid they send me back.’ The officer informed him that he had committed an offense of overstaying in Dominica, arrested and charged him for the offence. He was cautioned but made no reply.”

Attorney at Law Mr. Darius Jones in pleading to the Court on behalf of the Defendant asked the Court to understand the desperation which caused him to act in this manner.

“This Defendant finds himself caught in a situation between a rock and a very hard place and he has come before this Court and pleaded guilty but this was an act of utter desperation of fear of having to return to his home country in Haiti. Even when he went to the Immigration Department and the Immigration Officer asked him about the amnesty, he told the officer he was aware of the amnesty and he was very scared. For the first time in a very long period he has been able to work and to have a normal life for the first time in a long time and that is what motivated him for not going to the Immigration. The fear of losing the only bit of dignity, the only chance of being able to help himself and his family and he’s sorry he did not do things according to the rules. He’s asking the Court to try to understand his great fear of having to face a life of desperation. He is placing himself at the mercy of the Court and asking the Court to appreciate the situation in his homeland Haiti then and now, and would ask the Court if possible not to make an order for him to be returned to that life which he fears so much. He is a hard-worker, decent law abiding citizen and other than he not presenting himself to the Immigration he has made a very productive life and at this late stage there will still be the opportunity for him to appeal to the authorities to look at his situation and is therefore asking Your Worship for that opportunity for himself, his children and his family. His employer stands even today, while we speak and present in Court in support of him.”

The Police Prosecutor deemed the Defendant as a prohibited immigrant and applied to the Court to have him removed from the State. However, the Defendant objected to the application when asked by Magistrate Evelina Baptiste.

In sentencing the Defendant Magistrate Baptiste said that based on the time he spent here he could have gone to the Immigration Office to regulate his stay and she is unconvinced that he was afraid to come forward when an amnesty was granted.

He was fined $2000.00 to be paid before 3pm today 16th August, 2011 despite his lawyer’s plea for an extension of time to pay the fine, in default spend four months imprisonment.

He was granted bail of $9000.00 and his employer Royston Roy Mitchell as his surety. As part of his bail conditions, he is to report to the Roseau Police Station every Tuesday between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

In relation to the application to remove him from the state, the Defendant will have to wait until the 14th of November, 2011 to have that matter heard.

 

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