Dwyer Astaphan, a political commentator and attorney from St. Kitts and Nevis, views the situation in which Africans are being brought into Antigua and Barbuda as a form of human trafficking.
This is a sentiment shared by many residents, including Sean Bird, the United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate for St. John’s Rural East, and several interest groups.
Some of the African visitors reportedly told Bird they had been advised that Antigua is a gateway to where they want to go; and they allegedly had intended to move on to England, the United States, Suriname and Brazil.
As a result, Astaphan believes that Antigua and Barbuda is a trans-shipment point for human trafficking.
He warns that this sort of activity will only bring the country and the rest of the region under further scrutiny by larger territories, such as the USA and England, which require that Nigerians obtain an in-transit visa for onward travel to other destinations.
Astaphan, a former minister of national security in St. Kitts, recounts that he was faced with a similar situation during his tenure – but with Chinese nationals.
According to the attorney, the Antigua and Barbuda authorities are giving this country a bad name with the purported “Antigua Airways” and its transporting of Africans.
Astaphan speculates that some officials must be receiving a financial benefit from this business arrangement, which has the potential to cause acute embarrassment to the country.