Guyana has officially withdrawn the automatic six-month stay granted to Haitians on arrival in the country, revoking an earlier order that allowed nationals from Haiti to enter the country without a visa.
President Irfaan Ali revoked in its entirety, the January 2019 order by former president David Granger under which Haiti had been added to the list under the Immigration Act.
Haiti, despite being a full member of CARICOM, has not always enjoyed free movement into member countries under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the majority of the 15- member grouping.
The new Order is dated June 22, 2021, and in a letter dated June 23, to Minister of Aviation, Juan Edghill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall said only Haitian diplomats would not require visas to enter Guyana.
“The effect of this revocation is that Schedule Ito the Immigration Act is amended, by the deletion of ‘Haiti’ from the list of countries whose nationals are entitled to an automatic six months stay in Guyana. Accordingly, nationals of Haiti are no longer entitled to automatic permission to enter and remain in Guyana for six months. Additionally, nationals of Haiti, except Haitian diplomats, will require a visa to enter Guyana,” Nandlall wrote.
He called on Edghill to advise the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, all airlines and the chief executive officers of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and Eugene F. Correia International Airport of the new change for Haitian nationals.
The Ministers of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs as well as the Police Commissioner who is the Chief Immigration Officer have been copied in on the letter.
Last weekend, the authorities announced that an investigation had been launched after 10 Haitian children were found in a hotel room in the Berbice region.
According to a government statement, the children, five boys and five girls, did not have in their possession passports or any other form of identification.
When questioned by police, one of the children said they were transported to Guyana from neighbouring Suriname by speed boat and were dropped off at the hotel on, June 14.
Nandlall, has confirmed that there have been several instances where Haitians, Nigerians and Cubans have been detained after they were found to have entered the country, illegally, said “we have to tackle this issue once and for all,”
He said on a program, streamed live on his Facebook page on Tuesday night that Guyana would not be doing anything that other Caribbean countries have not done.
But the Opposition has accused the government of going against the principles of CARICOM by putting the visa requirement back in place.
Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Relations, Amanza Walton-Disir said there must be a better plan to address concerns about people smuggling.