Magistrate chastises immigration officers for child neglect

Deputy Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain chastised the Department of Immigration Officers yesterday, after they were accused of leaving several minor children in an immigration bus outside of court while their mothers’ were being arraigned.

Fourteen persons, seven men and seven women stood before Magistrate Swain, each charged with a single count of illegal landing, stemming from an immigration raid last Thursday.  Immigration officers allege that the group all came to The Bahamas illegally on Haitian sloops between, December 2017 and January 2018.

Three of the women, 21-year-old Rosenaica Jean Baptiste, 31-year-old Mirline Joachim and 35-year-old Eliana Saintilima pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Magistrate Swain said while the women could be considered a flight risk, it would be inhumane to detach them from their young children. The women have five children between them, ranging ages two to six years. The women were granted $2000 bail and have to report to the Immigration Department on Hawkins Hill every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  The children will be placed in the care of the Department of Social Services, pending the outcome of the trial, which begins on Thursday.

The remaining 11 Haitian nationals pleaded guilty and begged Magistrate Swain for mercy. Telling her they came to The Bahamas, searching for a better life for themselves and their children.  They have 33 children between them.  According to reports, the group of persons were apprehended during a raid of a village in the Fox Hill area on February 22, 2018.

Magistrate Swain recommended the group be “removed” from The Bahamas and returned to Haiti. They must also each pay a $300 fine or be placed in the Department of Corrections for 14 days.

They have seven days to appeal the ruling.