NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 13, CMC – Two days after 22 Haitians were buried after they drowned while attempting to enter the Bahamas by sea earlier this month, the 18 who survived the ordeal have been charged with illegally entering the country.
The 17 men and one woman appeared before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux telling her they were “looking for a better life” when they boarded they boarded the 40-foot vessel that ran aground in waters off Abaco on February 3.
So far 31 bodies had been recovered but the authorities said that nine were in such poor condition that they were buried in Abaco. The authorities have since called off the search for other survivors.
Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux thanked the survivors for their early plea of guilt and turned them over to immigration officials for processing.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield, said that Nassau has in the past warned of the dangers associated with the illegal migration by sea to the Bahamas.
He said the survivors will be repatriated and the Department of Immigration also said that there will be no special treatment for the survivors.
“The department’s policy in reference to the handling of the illegal migrants remains the same. There has been no change in regard to this policy,” the department said.
During the funeral service on Sunday, Bishop Simeon Hall told the mourners “to be poor and destitute (in Haiti) is still far better than to be dead and gone.”