We write on behalf of two citizens of Haiti, Junette Jean and Wilbert Fremont who on March 17, 2021 were sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment in addition to a fine of $30,000 (Guy) each for the offence of illegally entering Guyana. To date, Ms. Jean and Mr. Fremont have served just under two weeks of their sentence and continue to do so in a new country, separated from each other and surrounded by a strange language. Their nearest Haitian language contacts in Guyana are in Georgetown. Ms. Jean is incarcerated in New Amsterdam, and Mr. Fremont was placed at Lusignan and then taken to Timehri. One can hardly imagine the mental hardships this couple faces in isolation in these conditions.
An appeal is being filed on behalf of Ms. Jean and Mr. Fremont against their unreasonably severe sentencing. On humanitarian grounds, we hereby ask that this appeal be heard without delay, since to all appearances this couple has been treated harshly and their current rights as CARICOM citizens might not have been taken into account. Ms. Jean and Mr. Fremont travelled to Guyana hoping to reunite with their relative who lives there. Neither of these two Caribbean citizens has ever had a criminal record and no such evidence was produced in court at their hearing on March 17.
Ms. Jean, who currently faces a health challenge, having had major surgery just a few months ago, has been severely traumatized by her arrest, sentencing and detention in Guyana. When seen by her husband’s relative at La Penitence Police Station lockup after sentencing, she was crying uncontrollably. Ms. Jean has children and it is unconscionable that she should be kept from her children for a year.
The discrimination against Haitians, who are CARICOM citizens, needs to be questioned. Why is the legal system more amenable to infringements by other nationalities and so draconian towards Haitians?
We stand in solidarity with Junette Jean and Wilbert Fremont. We support their appeal without reservation and call for their immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
Guyana-Haiti Support Group – Charlene Wilkinson
Karen De Souza
Pierre Jean, teacher
Mondy Balenjo Nago Methelus, Journalist
Myrtha Désulmé – President Haiti-Jamaica Society; Haitian Diaspora Federation – VP for Advocacy & Public Policy for the Caribbean and Latin America
Kesnel Toussaint, President, Association of Haitian National in Guyana (AHNIG)
Patrice Florivus – Collectif des Avocats Spécialisés en Litige Stratégique de Droits Humains, (CALSDH – Haiti)
Elton McRae, Guyana Reparations Committee
Olive Sampson, International Decade for People of African Descent, Guyana Chapter (IDPADA-G)
Women & Gender Equality Commission – I. Chandarpal; C. Sampson
Help & Shelter – Josephine Whitehead
Red Thread – Joy Marcus; Wintress White; Halima Khan; Susan Collymore; Vanessa Ross
and dozens of others