Cuban migrant vessel lands in Cayman Brac

Nine Cubans who landed in Cayman Brac on Saturday have chosen to stay in the Cayman Islands and will likely apply for asylum.

The group, which includes eight males and one female, was part of a larger expedition carrying 27 passengers, according to the Department of Immigration. The remaining 18 individuals requested to remain on their hand-built vessel and continue on their journey, the DOI said, indicating that they have since left the island.

Immigration indicated that the raft, seen in photos on social media bouyed by barrels and held together by branches, was not damaged when it arrived to the Brac.

The group follows the arrival of 11 Cubans, consisting of nine males and two females, that arrived to the Brac in September and were transported to the Immigration Detention Centre in Grand Cayman.

It is expected that the latest group will be sent to the detention center following interviews by Immigration officers.

In addition to the Cubans who arrived in September, this group will join Cubans who were previously released under government supervision but who have since been returned to detention. One migrant indicated that they returned due to an issue with rental housing. Government acknowledged that some migrants had been returned to the center but has not confirmed the details or circumstances of their renewed detention.

All Cuban asylum applicants had been released from the center in August, following concerns about indefinite detention periods, in some cases surpassing two years.

At the time, the detention center was being eyed as an overflow facility for Cayman’s crowded prisons, but the Human Rights Commission flagged concerns about the facility in July.

Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith urged Her Majesty’s Prisons Service to respond, stating: “Due to the extensive nature of the unsanitary conditions, the government must take steps to rectify this situation.”

Government has not provided an update on the condition of the center since migrants were returned to the facility.