by Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 26, 2023
An ongoing investigation is being conducted after a group of nine Chinese nationals who entered the country were found in possession of forged Belizean documents.
On Sunday, January 15, nine Chinese nationals, three men and six women, were taken into police custody after landing in Belize. They were taken to the Ladyville Police Station, then interviewed by Immigration Department officials.
Initial reports are indicating that those Chinese nationals were in possession of permanent residency but had never set foot on Belize’s soil.
An internal investigation is being conducted by the Immigration Department, and after that is complete, it will be handed over to the police.
“I know that I got a call last week from the Director of Immigration herself, and she gave me certain information [with] respect to some persons who had come into the country and [whose] visa may have not been appearing to be genuine. Based on that, I sent over one of our senior investigators to meet with the Director of Immigration. They did meet, and I think that we’re at the stage where the director is trying to put together all the documents from within Immigration, and once all those documents and reports are compiled, then the investigation will be turned over to [the] police for us to conduct that investigation,” said Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams.
Meanwhile, the Belize Police Department is monitoring the movement of undocumented Haitian nationals into the country. Reports are also suggesting that undocumented migrants are using Belize as a transit point to get to the United States from the Caribbean.
Like the Chinese nationals, a group of Haitians were also reportedly taken into custody. However, when Police Commissioner Williams met with the media today, he noted that they are going to be careful in dealing with the matter, as Haiti falls under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which allows for the free movements of CARICOM nationals within CARICOM member states.
“So Haitians do have that right, because they are CARICOM citizens, to move around within the region so long as it is done in conformity with the local immigration laws. That is, you came into the country through the ordinary or legal border and you would have to declare to Immigration where you’ll be staying, with [whom] you will be staying, and these sorts of things. And I guess it was on that basis that the others who came before eventually had to be released. If it is that we were to keep these people in custody longer than necessary, then we open ourselves to be sued and taken before the Caribbean Court of Justice,” he said.
“…So it is something we have to look at as a people. I’m sure that the Immigration Department knows what they’re doing, and how they’re going to address the issue. We just need to ensure that whatever we do, it does not give the appearance that we’re facilitating human smuggling,” Williams added.