BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 27TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said yesterday, Wednesday, October 26th, that gnawing concerns, which were built up over time and brought to the attention of law enforcement by residents of East Basseterre and the wider public, prompted the coordinated, proactive operation of Saturday, October 22nd, 2016.

The operation resulted in approximately 100 citizens of Cuba, Jamaica, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and the United States being detained, pending the outcome of investigations. “Some 29 of those individuals remain in custody, given that they are here illegally,” Prime Minister Harris said yesterday.

Dr. Harris added that, “The individuals in question have overstayed and have been in violation of our Immigration Laws, in some cases as early as 2010. That is where the documentation leads us. Some of these persons had only been granted provisional entry to attend funerals, weddings, or visit sick relatives. That is what they came purportedly to do, and they refused to voluntarily leave the country or seek extensions from the appropriate authorities. The law is the law is the law. As a genuine effort is being made now to uphold the law, violations of our laws will not be tolerated.”

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said that law enforcement agencies were duty-bound to conduct the exercise, which he noted formed “part and parcel of the larger law enforcement initiative to bolster law and order in the Federation and minimize criminal activities.”

Prime Minister Harris continued: “The immigration officers, the police and other law enforcement agencies have been addressing all critical national security issues and, as such, immigration violations would not be – and could not be – overlooked in this broad law enforcement agenda. Moreover, it must be stressed that last weekend’s immigration exercise came in response to the public’s growing concerns. I want to repeat, the exercise came in response to growing public concerns. These complaints from the public to law enforcement agents run the gamut of the following: loud music in violation of the Noise Abatement Act; lewd behaviour; traffic congestion; suspected illegal operations being carried out at the bars; fights and chaos in the area often after 7:00am, we are advised, on Sunday mornings, which are disturbances to those who go to the Methodist Hope Chapel on George Street to worship. We have had reports: allegations of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a serious international human rights violation, and we will never allow our country’s good name to be sullied. Therefore, whenever those allegations are made, they must be seriously investigated because there are international consequences to us, including our ability, as citizens, to move to other jurisdictions that can be punitive once these matters are not addressed.”