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The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands is saddened over this recent event involving the death of persons found in the waters of the Turk and Caicos Islands in what can only be described as a tragedy. We offer our condolences to the people of Haiti and the Haitian community here in these Islands.


We must however use this experience to call on the Haitian community to consider seriously the risk of loss of life. This experience must remind this community of the dangerous journey between our countries. It also brings again to national dialogue the matter of human trafficking. The truth is someone profits from this dangerous voyage with reports of persons paying large sums of monies for an opportunity for the life that is sold to them. This cannot be tolerated and we as a new Government will take bold steps to address what has become a serious concern for us as a people.

We reiterate the statement made by this country when we passed the anti - human trafficking laws: we will not and cannot tolerate this practice and will do what we must to ensure those engaged in this criminal activity are dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.

We must also use this opportunity to speak to those living in the Turks and Caicos Islands who encourage persons to take this illegal and dangerous journey. This experience again must encourage you to reconsider your role. We have in recent years detained those who have entered illegally who have come to shore with local numbers for relatives and friends. I wish to remind you that encouragement or harboring of these illegal landings and illegal immigrants is against the laws of the land.

Finally we wish for persons to take our message forward for those that are considering this journey and those that are determined to disregard the laws of the land, our new Government will take bold steps and will strengthen efforts and resources for a border protection system that will not take this issue lightly. We cannot relent into a state of hopelessness.

Whilst we are saddened at this great loss of human life, measures must be put in place to protect persons from themselves, potential victims from human traffickers and our borders from breaches by illegal entrants. We join the Police in their call for assistance.

No one stands to gain in the continuance of this practice and firm policy positions will be taken and strict enforcement of the laws of these lands will follow. We must again appeal to the relatives and friends living in these Islands and in Haiti to discourage your family and friends to place value on the lives of your loved ones.

All lives are precious and over the next few days we are asking for assistance to help to identify those who have lost their lives in this recent tragedy.
Within the last month, our Government has recorded three illegal sloops making landfall and this issue continues to plague these Islands as already limited resources is having to be directed towards detention and repatriation costs. We will also seek to strengthen our regional and international relationships in a multi country and multi prong approach to addressing this long standing issue.

We will work with the Haitian Consulate and the Governor’s Office to continue the dialogue on this issue with the newly elected Haitian Government as a matter of urgency. We will nonetheless do what we must as a country to protect our borders.

On a final note, the Minister of Border Control and I visited the scene yesterday together with the Commissioner of Police and were welcomed by exhausted but committed men and women of a joint operation.

Other ministerial colleagues with responsibility for disaster, health and infrastructure has also showed their support to this hardworking team. We are grateful to the members of the Joint Response Team for the dignity with which they have carried out this daunting task.

Again I must call on all people to act responsibly and to respect the rights of the victims and their families. This call comes on the heel of my receiving several times over images of human bodies. Let’s be kind in this regard.