Fifth migrant escape this year

Five more Cubans escaped from the George Town Immigration Detention Centre this past weekend in the fifth such break out at the holding facility this year.

The five escaped Saturday night. They were recaptured the next day by police and immigration officers and were taken to the George Town police station.

On Monday, two of the migrants being kept at the police station injured themselves and had to be hospitalised for what were described as minor bruises.

Immigration officials said the self-inflicted injuries were a result of frustration on the Cuban migrants’ part. Officers said the migrants were upset because they had heard no news about their pending repatriation to Cuba.

The 21 July escape is the first in more than two months at the detention centre following a rash of break-outs this spring. Authorities have also foiled a pair of attempted escapes, one of which occurred in March where migrants were found hoarding items such as a cell phone and objects that could have been used as weapons.

Shortly after the March escape attempt failed, a group of Cuban men was seen holding a sign near the fence of the detention centre asking for news coverage of their situation.

Four break-outs followed that protest.

About 15 migrants escaped in the first week of April, two of them took 10 days to recapture. A week later on 12 April two more migrants fled the centre but were captured the same day.

Two days after that escape, on 14 April, about 30 migrants walked out of the detention centre when officials said someone tampered with a gate lock. They participated in a rowdy but peaceful demonstration around the streets of George Town before agreeing to come back to the centre on the condition they would get to speak to the press.

Seven migrants attempted to escape the facility on 8 May, but only three were successful in getting out. A search of the area around the centre, which included a police helicopter, led to a quick round-up of the three escapees.

Immigration officials said there are now about 27 migrants being held in the detention centre. Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has said officials prefer that number to be about 15-20 but he said there have been lengthy delays in sending captured Cuban migrants back home.

The detention centre is not a prison and is designed as a minimum security holding area where migrants can cook their own meals, enjoy some entertainment and get exercise if they wish. A private security company provides guards for the facility.

A recent review of the centre by the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee found migrants were generally well-treated and provided for, although the HRC agreed it was taking too long for repatriation to occur.

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