ELEUTHERA –– The bodies of two people, believed to have been among Haitians who entered the Bahamas by boat illegally, have washed ashore in the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. And Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell is pushing for murder charges to be added to the charges which the boat captain now faces. Several others, including Bahamians and Haitians living in the Bahamas with work permits, are facing charges.
One of the bodies was found at Harbour Island and the other at James Cistern.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday after the first body was discovered, Mitchell said: “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.”
The Bahamas Department of Immigration said in a statement on Wednesday that it appeared there were two landings at Eluethera and it had managed to detain 73 people, 24 of whom were apprehended earlier in the week and 49, including 28 men, 14 women and seven children, who were take into custody Wednesday after a search of the island.
The Eleutheran newspaper reported that authorities said another 20 were detained up to midday yesterday –– 13 in an abandoned house in Weymss Bight and seven on the Bannerman Town Beach.
“The children and women will be flown out by [tomorrow]. The males will be gone early next week,” Mitchell said.
The Department of Immigration said the captains of the two vessels would be charged for assisting in the illegal landings. Additionally, it said three Haitian nationals and a Bahamian national would be charged under the amended Immigration Act for harbouring illegal persons.
“In the case of the three Haitian nationals, who are work permit holders, three illegal migrants were found and arrested at their place of residence, Bannerman Town, Eleuthera; several other persons fled from their home and escaped arrest. The Bahamian, a resident of Weymss Bight, Eleuthera, is also in custody as five illegal migrants were found at his home,” the department disclosed in its statement.
Another Haitian national, living in the Bahamas without status, is to be charged with damaging public property for intentionally damaged an Immigration vehicle.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force on Wednesday interdicted another boat at Staniel Cay in Exuma and arrested 92 Haitians.
In the first four months of 2015, the Bahamas repatriated 1,528 illegal immigrants, 1,274 of them Haitians. Last year, 3,868 were sent back home. Of those, 3,033 were Haitians.