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Jamaican Government acknowledges request for asylum on behalf of 37 Haitians

By Kimone Witter

The Jamaican Government has recognised a request for asylum on behalf of the 37 Haitian migrants, including 8 children who arrived in Portland last week.

Information Minister Robert Morgan confirmed in an interview with Radio Jamaica News Saturday mornig that the letter with the request was received on Friday from Malene Alleyne, founder of Freedom Imaginaires.

The development came as the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency was making arrangements to have the group returned to Haiti after the adults appeared in court and were each fined seven thousand dollars or three days of hard labour for illegal entry.

Mr Morgan had said earlier this week that the Haitians were advised of the possibility of applying for asylum, but none took up the offer.

In his interview with Radio Jamaica News today, he outlined the next steps in the legal process.

Mr Morgan said that the Jamaican Government was only following established protocols in putting the Haitians before the court prior to the application for asylum.

Ms Alleyne told Radio Jamaica News on Friday that, in her letter, she urged the Government to halt the process and comply with UN Refugee Agency and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights directives to suspend the forced return of Haitians.