JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has stated that no decision has been taken to return the approximately 281 Haitian refugees now in the island, who did not meet the criteria for asylum following a review of their application by the Eligibility Committee.
Mr. Patterson said the Haitians have a right of appeal as stipulated under the United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees and would be allowed to do so before a Special Appeal Tribunal established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Prime Minister was speaking on Monday (Oct. 4) at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
Mr. Patterson stressed that appeals to the Tribunal must be made within sevens days after it has been established and the refugees notified of its existence. The Cabinet will make a final determination on the status of the Haitians after the Tribunal has heard all appeals and made its recommendation. The professional groups from which members of the Tribunal may be drawn, will be determined by the Cabinet at its next meeting.
Prime Minister Patterson noted that even with the asylum process being incomplete, the present situation in northern Haiti as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Jeanne, would prevent the return of the Haitians at this time, except for those wishing to return voluntarily. Eleven Haitians have returned voluntarily and their repatriation overseen by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Mr. Patterson stated that Jamaica remains committed to the people of Haiti, noting that that country was still a member of the CARICOM family. He stressed that the commitment to the people of Haiti has not lessened with the passage of time.

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