Anti-Smuggling Of Migrants Bill, 2024, Serves To Deter Illegal Smuggling Of Person And Protect The Rights Of Migrants

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Basseterre, St. Kitts – As the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis takes active steps towards strengthening its laws against the illegal smuggling of migrants through the passage of the Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Bill, 2024, Senator the Honourable Isalean Phillip said she is pleased that the legislation takes into account the rights and protection of the victims involved.

The second reading of the Bill was moved by Attorney General, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, during the Friday, June 14, 2024, sitting of the National Assembly.

In her contribution to the debate, Minister Phillip said, “We have an obligation to these migrants who were illegally smuggled into our country to ensure that they are protected and maintained until they are determined to be able to either leave or have to be integrated into our society as a result of claiming asylum,” Senator Phillip said.

The successful passage of the Bill comes as authorities in St. Kitts and Nevis, as recently as last year, had to house and maintain several illegal migrants from Cameroon after their vessel capsized in the Federation’s territorial waters.

In her capacity as Minister of State with responsibility for Social Development, Senator Phillip said there are numerous social implications in the handling of persons who were illegally brought to the country.

“There is a cost for every smuggled migrant that the State has to bear and if there are children involved we have to make sure those children get access to education and are put into schools because it is the law that all minors are to be in school, whether you are here legally or otherwise,” said the Honourable Phillip, who also noted that the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs often plays a leading role when the Federation is faced with situations involving illegal migrants.

Part 7 of the Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Bill, 2024, speaks to the due process afforded to the victims of these crimes in relation to their return to their country of origin.

Minister Phillip said, “It is very good to see that in addition to the penalties that are included in terms of the offences for persons who are smuggling migrants, we also have clearly outlined processes in this Bill related to the return of smuggled migrants, and up until that point the state also recognises and will, of course, respect the protection and human rights of persons who are smuggled because that is a commitment that we have in accordance with international laws.”

The Bill was passed with unanimous consent.


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