Former Haitian senator’s family looking for asylum in Jamaica

Former Haitian senator’s family  looking for asylum in Jamaica

Joseph was arrested in Jamaica along with three relatives last month.


KINGSTON, Jamaica--Three relatives of former Haitian Opposition Senator John Joel Joseph, who were arrested along with the politician in Jamaica last month, have applied for asylum in the island to avoid returning to Haiti, where they fear they would be killed.

  In the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Court on Tuesday, attorney-at-law Donahue Martin successfully argued for the case involving Joseph and his three family members to be adjourned pending an application to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) for refugee status. 

  Senior Parish Judge Lori-Ann Cole-Montague concluded that Joseph’s wife Edume (38) and two sons Schopenhauer (18) and a nine-year-old, who were charged with illegal entry, are to return to court on March 3. They also had their bail extended.

  Joseph allegedly fled Haiti after he was linked to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last year July.

  Martin, in an interview with Observer Online, said there is reasonable cause for Joseph’s wife to believe that if she and her sons should return to Haiti they would be harmed.

  “She genuinely takes the view that she will be persecuted if she were to return to Haiti. Because of the political and socio-economic instability in Haiti we felt it prudent to apply for refugee status in Jamaica,” Martin confirmed, adding that due to the allegations being brought against Joseph by the Haitian authorities, he is not eligible to apply for asylum in Jamaica.

  “Formerly the matter was adjourned to facilitate an application that I made to the Ministry of National Security through our passport and immigration agency. So, I made an application to PICA for them to be granted refugee status. Refugee status allows them to be protected as somebody that is fleeing their country of origin because of well-founded circumstances of them taking the view that they will be persecuted if it is that they return to their country,” he continued.

  The family was held by police on January 14 during an operation in Warminster district, St. Elizabeth.

  Joseph was observed at court comforting his wife, who appeared to be extremely agitated as she was seen using an asthma pump on several occasions.

  “I don’t sleep, my wife doesn’t sleep, my wife is sick … I would like to see the process finished for my family,” Joseph said as he addressed the judge for the first time without an interpreter.

  Observer Online understands that Joseph arrived in the island illegally by boat in December along with his family members, and he is one of three key suspects who were being hunted in relation to the July 2021 assassination of former Haitian President Moïse.

  He is the second suspect to be held in Jamaica. The first was former Colombian soldier Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, who was arrested in late October by Jamaican police. Following his court appearance in Jamaica, and while being deported to his native Colombia earlier this month, Palacios was notified by United States authorities that he was being extradited to America to face charges there.

  However, even though there is no extradition treaty between Haiti and Jamaica, Joseph could be sent back to his native country.

  Moïse was killed on July 7 when a hit team invaded the presidential residence and shot him dead. His wife Martine was wounded but survived. Judicial police have questioned at least 21 presidential guards who were present on the fateful night. ~ Jamaica Observer ~

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