Statement Of Update Re: Cameroonian Detainees

June 11, 2023

The Ministry of National Security wishes to provide the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with an update on the status of the fourteen (14) Cameroon nationals who were rescued at sea on March 28th, 2023.

On June 8th, 2023, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) granted the Cameroon nationals “Asylum Seeker Status.” According to UNHCR’s definition, an asylum seeker is “someone whose request for sanctuary is yet to be processed.” Therefore, in addition to being protected against forced repatriation to their home country, the Cameroon nationals are entitled to continue humanitarian care while their asylum requests to UNHCR are being processed. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will continue to collaborate closely with UNHCR and provide the Cameroon nationals with the necessary basic humanitarian services.

The official Asylum Seeker Certificates were hand-delivered to the Cameroon nationals at noon on June 10th, 2023, and the extended humanitarian provisions the Government has agreed to provide were also clearly communicated to them. One such consideration is the Government’s decision to release them from detention and relocate them to an apartment complex with a view to increasing their comfort and autonomy. This arrangement will remain in place for ninety (90) days while their asylum applications are in progress.

In response, the Cameroon nationals communicated the following three (3) demands and stated that their hunger strike which they started the afternoon of
June 9th, 2023, will continue until they have been met:

They wish to be issued with a United Nations identification card.
They wish to speak with the United States (US) Embassy or the US Congress.
They wish to be sent to their Cameroonian friends and family in Texas, US, as they claim they are specially protected under US law.
It was explained to the Cameroon nationals that these demands fall outside of the remit and authority of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, save and except the granting of access to communicate with the US Embassy. In this regard, they have been provided with the requisite email addresses, telephone numbers, and the physical address of the United States Embassy in Barbados.

In short order, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be reviewing our nation’s asylum legislation and procedures as we cannot and will not tolerate illegal migration going forward. As a sovereign nation, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is adamant that the country will not become a safe haven for human traffickers and persons who use illegal means to enter our borders.

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