UPDATE (with video):Attorney Joshua Francis calls for fair treatment of Haitian nationals

Haitians gathered at Windsor Park Sports Stadium on Sunday Oct 25

Attorney-at-Law, Joshua Francis, is calling on the state to exercise discretion in the manner in which the Haitian nationals in Dominica are being treated.

In recent times it has been alleged that a significant number of Haitian nationals have been pouring on Dominica, particularly after Dominica and Barbados provided visa free entry to the Haitian brothers and sisters who are CARICOM nationals.

It has been estimated that over 11,000 Haitians descended upon Dominica’s shores last year and upon arrival they would get their 6 months stay and those who choose to stay beyond the 6 months they would have sought an extension on their stay.

Because of so many Haitians coming in, according to state officials out of the 11,000 plus that came in on the island,  their records show that only 1200 or thereabout returned to  Haiti, which means that there are over 9000 Haitian nationals on the island.

But according to the officials, if one has to do a survey to ascertain the numbers who came in last year, it would note that most of the Haitians have left the state, allegedly to Guadeloupe and Martinique via backdoor [illegal entry from Dominica].

It has been reported that there is a human-trafficking problem on the country’s shoulders.

Dominica News Online (DNO) understands that the alleged problem became so chronic that Dominica decided to restrict the number of Haitians coming into Dominica and as such the visa-free entry for Haitians was removed.

In Dominica in an effort to cure what French officials say are serious problems created by human-trafficking from Dominica, according to state officials the state responded by its refusal to provide extension of stay to Haitians and that includes persons with work permits.

“So we found Haitians who have work permits, seeking an extension or seeking renewal of work permits and they were told that currently the state is not providing an extension of stay and or renewal work permits,” Francis told DNO during an exclusive interview on Thursday.  “To compound the situation police officers, acting under the instructions of their supervisors, started picking up or rounding up Haitians who overstayed.”

Francis believes as much as the state has discretion to decide whether it wants to renew extension to any foreigner it must do so with reason.

“It must give sufficient notice to the people, as in the case of the Haitians from what I understand people have not received or did not receive sufficient notice as to 1, when the government stopped issuing those work permits and renewals or extension of stay,” Francis remarked. “To me there is insufficiency in notice to the Haitian community.”

He continued, “We have to create a policy which is fair, just, which is up to international standards on human rights.”

He believes that the Haitians should be treated fairly in accordance with the constitution of Dominica, the Treaty of Chaguaramas  and human rights Conventions.

Francis said that, on the other hand, the state is well within its rights to take care of its borders.

“Nobody is questioning the rights, because the state has that right,” he stated.

However, he said in making decisions and passing policies it must be done properly.

Francis is representing 5 Haitian Nationals who were arrested last week for overstaying.

The men appeared in a Roseau Magistrate court on Friday 16th October 2020,  and the matter was adjourned for Monday 19th October. The charge of overstaying in breach of the Immigration and Passport Act of Dominica was read to them.

They pleaded not guilty and Francis sought bail for them. However, the magistrate denied bail and they are presently on remand at the Dominica State Prison. The matter was further adjourned to November 13th, 2020.

Francis went on to say that some of the Haitians have legitimate reasons why they are on the island without regularization.

“For example you have cases, well in my case two of my clients had work permits and the work permits expired in September, according to them, prior to September they went to the immigration seeking information, they also went to the Labour Division with the intentions to apply for a renewal of their work permits and they were informed that the state is not issuing renewals of work permits neither the state is issuing extension of stay,” Francis explained.

He continued, “In that case they were asked to return, my clients alleged that they left and they were awaiting to find out when the state is reissuing extension of stay and extension of time.”

He further explained that one of his clients has been living in Dominica for the past 4 years, he has gotten at least 3 work permits…and up to September he was regularized, he was legal and because the state has refused to renew work permits he found himself in a situation where now he is arrested and he is on remand.”

Francis is of the view that a person like that should have legitimate expectation to get a renewal.

“This is somebody who came to Dominica, and has not been involved in any illegal activity, he has been working hard and contributing to taxation on the island,” he remarked.  “While in bed in the wee hours of Friday morning [October 16]  he alleges that police descended upon him and dragged him to the Roseau police station cell,” Francis revealed. “He is just an example of several other Haitians who are in similar situations.”

Francis said in modern law, “Peter should not pay for Paul”.

He urged the Haitian community to come together and pen a letter expressing their concerns about the latest decision of the government in not issuing a stay.

“I think that the Haitians should consider doing a judicial review, have the court once again put the decision of the state in respect to its refusal to renew visas for the Haitians, to review their stay on the island under the microscope,” Francis advised. “Because in my view the Haitians are vulnerable people and they should be subject to equal treatment under the constitution of Dominica.”

He added, “They must be subject to a fair hearing, they must be afforded attorneys, they must be given an opportunity to be heard.”

In August, Attorney Wayne Norde applied to the court for a judicial review of the decision of the state to pick up Haitians and deport them.

Norde asked the court to mandate immigration department to forbid the practice of just picking up the Haitians and sending them away without a court hearing and also to ask the court to extend their stay on the island.

Norde was unsuccessful in getting an extension of time for the Haitian nationals. However, some of them voluntarily left the island.

Attorney Ronald Charles has also attempted to get assistance in court through judiciary reviews and was unsuccessful.

Meantime, DNO spoke to two Haitian nationals who reside in Roseau whose permits are to expire soon.

Both individuals who chose to remain anonymous said they are worried they might be sent back to Haiti if their permits are not renewed.

“I have been living in Dominica for over 5 years and I never had a problem when renewing my permit,” one of the Haitian nationals said. “I have two children living in Dominica who were born there. What will happen to those of us with our children who live here and goes to school here if the law continues to treat us that way?”

The other Haitian national said, “this is pure frustration on all of us, some of us cannot get flights out of Dominica and have no choice to stay until a flight is available, but when you threaten to lock us up for overstaying, this will only push some of us to leave the country illegally especially when we sometimes cannot get flights out.”

“We need to be treated as human beings, the way our brothers and sisters are treated by the Dominican authorities is wrong. Not every Haitian on Dominica has criminal intentions,” he stressed.

On Sunday Oct 25, Haitians gathered at the Windsor Park stadium to discuss their concerns . Among the main talking points at the meeting were what they said was government’s refusal to grant work permits to Haitians and to renew the permits of those Haitians who already had them, leaving them in “legal limbo” and the fact that some of them who had lived in Dominica long enough to qualify for citizenship and have applied but have not ben granted citizenship with no explanation.

Below is a video of the gathering courtesy the Facebook page of Loftus Durand.

The video (link below) is mostly in creole but there is an interview in English with one of the protesters near the end.

https://www.facebook.com/lofty.durand/videos/799275597574234/?sfnsn=mo

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29 Comments

  1. Danziger
    October 27, 2020

    Let Gouverment and Hatians fix their AFFAIRE, Hatians must behave themselves, our nationals also when we are in foreign countries. Hit the NAIL on the head.

  2. Gary
    October 27, 2020

    If we followed the political career of Attorney Joshua Francis when he made it official that he would be a candidate for The UWP, he soon became “The sympathy man” showing up at tragedies of victims, a role he played very well, and yes most politician employ such skill. Now today he is the “sympathy man” to Haitians. The Government of Dominica has already identified the issue within the Haitian Community. They have called upon the Haitian Community for their assistance. The French Authorities have asked the Government of Dominica in a joint cooperation to secure their borders. The PM is on record in the region as a champion for Haitians crisis and adopted an open immigration policy.

    As to the other issue of allegations made against the Police and Immigration, such matters should be dealt in the Court, The media is not the Courtroom where justice is decided. What is happening is just another attempt by “Mr Sympathy”in his post election career carrying out the UWP agenda.

  3. DA TRUMP
    October 27, 2020

    look de answer deh

  4. Not supporting no haitian revolution in Dominica
    October 27, 2020

    Them haitians rude. They dont respect Dominica laws and think they own here. They are constantly distroying ppl land boundries and houses. You cant tell them anything wen they do cuz the spoiling you and making your land barren. Its time they get rid of them.

  5. Kot
    October 27, 2020

    What are you even talking about lennox linton when it is the ruling government who caused all of this. I bet if you got a teeth ache you would blame workers. I no u must be getting paid to comment line this but one day not now u will regret ur actions. Evil flourishes when good men do nothing!

  6. October 27, 2020

    Where is all this taking place. What country is that may I ask? Bois Guiave, Jacmel, Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes. Where is that country? Many years ago, people would say Penville is behind God back. Today this whole so called country is way, way back.

  7. our Sisserou laying Eggs
    October 26, 2020

    well i can agree with Joshua Francis on the point that “justice” wasn’t done to the Haitians. If Dca wanted to stop issuing work permits, there should have at least been a transitional time frame. for instance, the government could have said that new work permits will not be issued from January 1st 2021. in that sense they’d have enough time to make proper plans. secondly, the issue about overstaying, if you over stayed your visa then you are 100% in the wrong. there’s no escape from this. you overstay, then you get deported. it’s that simple. so, the laws of the country are to be followed by all locals, and foreigners likewise.

  8. Ripe patat
    October 26, 2020

    Seems like its only Dominicans Skerrit have his pressure on. Can’t try that with the Haitians but we already know why. Just take their votes and kick them out after. My advice: if you are a young person, get out. Your best years are being wasted in Dominica with the current government at the helm.

    • October 28, 2020

      Take their vote and kick them out. Does that make any sense to You? To vote one must have a passport and if one have a passport there is no reason to kick them out.

  9. Man bites dogs
    October 26, 2020

    We black people are double standard bastards all of our lives we been complaining about the white man treating us unfairly in their country and yet we doing the same to our black neighbors in the Caribbean, Africa, and elsewhere on a whole we are just as bad or worse! Lennox Linton, is a typical off what some black 🖤 people is all about nasty and wicked!!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9
  10. October 26, 2020

    So why are there so many who isn’t wearing a mask? If they cannot comply with a law that is for their own good health, how will they comply with the tougher laws concerning their stay in Dominica?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5
  11. October 26, 2020

    “I have been living in Dominica for over 5 years and I never had a problem when renewing my permit,” one of the Haitian nationals said. “I have two children living in Dominica who were born there”.

    And yet that same individual concludes with a negative question: “What will happen to those of us with our children who live here and goes to school here if the law continues to treat us “that way?” So what is the personal “that way” for that individual?

    So that person has been treated well for 5 years and yet he/she is siding with the grievances of being treated “that way” by the Law. It is sad, that most people cannot accept the good things in their Life but is quick to start roaring about a single mishap

    I won’t say that there are no Haitians who have run into bad luck in Dominica, but I am sure that there are more of them who are comfortable with Life’s circumstances. Unfortunately, it is “the bad” that will always make the headline. So sad!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7
  12. October 26, 2020

    Yes, everyone should be treated fairly, Haitians or not. There’s a solution that Francis didn’t mention; if one is afforded a six month’s stay anywhere in the world you should leave before the six month’s expiration date and re-enter to get another six months. If that habit continues, and that person commits no crime, that person could/should get more time of up to one year. It’s understandable that their time were extended, but it’s up to the people to stay on top of their status, and not the Government to inform them about not renewing visas and/or work permits. They shouldn’t wait until time to renew. Children born on the Island are Dominican citizens, their parents should be granted permission on behalf of those children to stay so they can take of their children. NO CHILD SHOULD BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS regardless of the situation. Some of these people leave their homes for the same reasons Dominicans are leaving, for a BETTER life. All deserve second…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  13. As I see it
    October 26, 2020

    The very large Hàitian crowd is like a test match in Dominica between Australia and the West Indies. No police intimidation, though they occupied our local stadium. Can you imagine what would have happened if it were Dominicans that don’t support Skerrit that assembled at windsor park or at a protest yesterday? Boy today I bet we would probably see a blood bath or many arrested! So people will say Dominicans are not standing up but the difference is Dominicans are scared of the Skerrit soldiers. What I really like about this well organized protest is, I didn’t hear those Hàitians on the radio announcing their protest like UWP supporters do. If anything, that’s the lesson we shouy learn from the Hàitians. We tired of telling Skerrit of our intentions so he could send his army. We need to learn make use of social media and other means so we catch them with pants down

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8
    • Cricket Fan
      October 26, 2020

      I support the “Test Match” statement :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  14. Good to see
    October 26, 2020

    Hats off to the many Hàitians that turned out! Sadly you can’t get 100 Dominicans to out to protest in their own country. But to be fair to Dominicans, I didn’t see the military arm of Skerrit dressed in fatigue uniforms and long guns to threaten Hàitians, as they do to threaten and intimidate Dominicans whey they try to protest.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5
  15. Bruises
    October 26, 2020

    Update with video so where is the. Video

    ADMIN: The video link is at the end of the article.

  16. Ibo France
    October 26, 2020

    My little take on the Haitian issue is this. To allow a sudden influx of large numbers of outsiders into any country puts a tremendous strain on the healthcare and education systems and the general resources of the state. There must be sensible measures that must be put in place to guard against any adverse consequences to the state.

    Having said all of that, the manner in which the relevant authorities are now dealing with the Haitians is inhumane, cruel and should be halted with immediacy. Deal with the problem of these beleaguered, hapless and frequently despised and ostracized set of people more humanely. They are human beings too . They should never be subjected to the insane harassment and indignities they are presently experiencing at the direction of the state.

    In dealing with the Haitians let’s remember the Golden Rile -Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
    • Gary
      October 27, 2020

      You again with your mischievous revelations, quote, “the manner in which the relevant authorities are now dealing with the Haitians is inhumane, cruel and should be halted with immediacy.” do you have evidence to support such statement, is this really the case in Dominica, is this what you get up every day to do with you life and enjoy doing, distorting facts making your own. Do you think that what you are doing is helping the agenda which you support.

      The closing remarks of your comment regarding the golden rule, is blasphemy. The golden rule is not only directed to our actions, but also to our words, the things we say about people regardless if you disagree politically, it something you are never mindful of when you write your comments.

  17. Troanea Wilkins
    October 26, 2020

    While I understand the plight, my question is: if a Dominican was in another country say Barbados or Trinidad or the US or UK or wherever, and the government of that country decides for whatever reason (as Governments are within their rights to do) they are not renewing work permits, extension of stay etc and you are asked to depart, well you have to depart. What’s the issue here?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0
    • A. George
      October 26, 2020

      Waymin … lemme help you .. cause it look like you missed this “The other Haitian national said, “this is pure frustration on all of us, some of us cannot get flights out of Dominica and have no choice to stay until a flight is available”

      They are now in limbo. If it were you what would you want done>?

  18. Alicia
    October 26, 2020

    Maybe the Haitians should put in all that energy in tebuilding their own country instead of fighting for rights in another.
    If it was another country, America, France, St Lucia, Trinidad, they won’t be so bold.
    Heck The DR kicked most of them out some years ago. BAHAMAS DID SO LAST YEAR..
    So why is D ominica they have so much power?
    Dominicans you are losing your freaking country. Might have lost it already.
    You think a Dominican can go to another country and sit on the side of the road, selling vegetables, they most likely didn’t grow themselves.
    Dominice is lost.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0
  19. LocsGirl
    October 26, 2020

    Dominica is in a crisis and I wonder if anyone knows how to fix it, or if it can be fixed.

  20. Channel 1
    October 26, 2020

    With regards to this illegal departure from & entry to Dominica via the backdoor, why is there TOTAL silence/lack of inquiry by journalism groups in Dominica as to the status of the Coast Guard base which was supposed to have been built in the north of the island with funding approved for by the Americans back in 2012?

    What is really going on here? Something just ain’t right in Dominica. If the government wants to control illegal immigration in the north, an excellent deterrent and monitoring weapon to deal with the matter is the establishment of a coast guard base in the north of the island.

    WHERE IS THE NORTHERN COAST GUARD BASE? Dem fellas had even break ground for the base to be built in 2012. 8-O 8-O 8-O 8-O

    Reminder y’all – https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/economy-development/ground-breaking-for-northern-coast-guard-base-new-vessels-commissioned/

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  21. fix that
    October 26, 2020

    DNO fix that advert thing you have on the left side of the screen… it blocking text and you can’t read the article, plus another infolinks ad thing at the bottom of the screen… making your website look like a spam website

    ADMIN: Thank you for letting us know. Are you using a pc or mobile/tablet?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
    • Bwa-Banday
      October 26, 2020

      Thanks @ Fix That…those info/ ads appearing on the right and left side of the screen are not only annoying but make the page full of clutter. It make you want to just leave the site period! Too many ads on the page….even if I know ads pay the bills they can be overwhelming and actually have the opposite the intended effect.

      ADMIN: Thank you for your feedback. We have made some changes. Reload the page and let us know if it has made any difference.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • October 26, 2020

      I have that same problem; I am using a laptop.

      That situation is on both sides of my computer, it shows up every time I open a new article. But there is a small x at the end of both ads, I just click on the x to turn them off, otherwise, it is impossible to read the new article.

      ADMIN: Your feedback is appreciated. We have made some adjustments let us know if you experience any difficulties.

      • October 28, 2020

        DNO, thank you; your adjustment is successful, those two ads have disappeared!

  22. anonymous
    October 26, 2020

    The Haitians need to respect Dominica’s laws. They come with the intention of not leaving. or use Dominica as a transitional point. While we have welcomed them to our shores they come with ulterior motives which is not good for Dominica as a whole. every country has a right to protect its land and citizens and they should do so in keeping with the relevant laws.

    we all have rights and the Haitians while asking for fair treatment need to be treat Dominica fairly as well.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

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