On September 20 th, 2023, in the early evening, the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard responded to a distress call from a sea vessel close to the coastline at Halfmoon in Frigate Bay, St. Kitts. Upon responding to the call, the Coast Guard discovered a white yacht grounded on the reef.
Inquiries revealed that there were initially eleven persons on board (inclusive of the boat’s captain), four of whom had already disembarked and swam to shore.
Two persons were observed by the Coast Guard to be swimming toward the coastline, and another two, having made it to land, were observed fleeing the scene.
Owing to the swift reaction of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF), the fleeing persons were apprehended and detained. Of the ten persons rescued, nine were shortly thereafter identified as nationals of Haiti, the single exception being one Dominica-born child.
They were all treated with compassion and afforded the requisite humane treatment, inclusive of medical care. It was reported by persons on board the vessel that the captain, a national of Dominica, had abandoned the vessel by way of a smaller boat.
However, on the afternoon of September 21st, 2023, a man who was later identified as the vessel’s captain, sought assistance medical assistance at the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineaux, St. Kitts.
He was subsequently transported to the Joseph N. France General Hospital for treatment.
On September 23rd,2023, he was discharged and immediately arrested by Police on suspicion of Smuggling.
The Government has taken the decision to repatriate these illegal migrants in the interest of national security and the maintenance of the nation’s “zero tolerance” against human trafficking.
Therefore, as of September 26, 2023, six detainees have been transported to Haiti by air.
Of the four (4) that remain, two will be flown to Haiti before midweek.
We are currently awaiting the Government of Dominica’s consent to transport the child and mother back to its shores.
It is of paramount importance that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis does not become a safe haven for illegal migration and human trafficking.
Both infractions pose clear and direct threats to the stellar functioning of our national security apparatus.
Human trafficking is a human rights violation that the Government regards with a high level of seriousness.
As such, the steady increase of these occurrences throughout the Caribbean region continues to cause us great concern.
In this regard, we will endeavor to resolve such matters swiftly and judiciously when encountered in the interest of the Federation’s safety and security.
The protection of our borders and citizenry are among the Government’s foremost priorities.
We will continue to maintain the integrity of our legal ports of entry as a sovereign nation and continue to welcome legal visitors to our shores. —