By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday criticised Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis who accused the government of covering up alleged abuse of Cuban detainees.
Speaking during a press conference at his office, Mr Mitchell said he found it “sickening” that the FNM sided with the international community in lodging criticisms against the Christie administration.
He said under such scrutiny, all Bahamians should have stood together to defend the good name of the country.
Mr Mitchell said: “The only one who did not get or understand the point of Bahamians standing together was the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues. They find themselves voluntarily absenting themselves from the House of Assembly and the Senate in dereliction of their duty. They in this matter of the detainees, find themselves allied with the protesters in Miami against the Bahamian people.
“This is sad, reprehensible, regrettable, disgraceful, shameful. We must ask the question how is it that one day after the Leader of the Opposition called for the resignation of this minister, that the Leader of the protesters in Miami who have so defamed our country, also made the same call, using almost exactly the same words. Dr. Minnis must explain the connection.
“The government represents all of the people of The Bahamas. This matter is not an FNM or PLP or DNA matter. In this matter, all Bahamians should stand together, even as we get our internal affairs together, but at the water’s edge we should be united.”
He further called on Dr Minnis to explain why the findings of a 2009 investigation into events at the detention centre were never made public. Dr Minnis was the Health Minister at the time.
“If he is so enamoured of public disclosure, he must explain to us why Amnesty International was able to allege on 20th August this year that the report of an investigation by the then FNM government in 2009 into events at the Detention Centre was never made public.
“Further, the Detention Centre’s dorms were destroyed by arson. There were two fires, one in 2006 and another in 2008 which cut the capacity of the detention centre by 50 per cent. The FNM was in office for five years 2007-2012 and did nothing to replace the dorms. ”We had to begin to rebuild the dorms following our return to office and we are now well on the way. If he is so transparent and public explain that.”
In the meantime, Mr Mitchell said that the government was taking additional steps to ensure that the matter is soon resolved which includes meetings with the Bahamas Embassy there and at the State Department in Washington, DC.
A visit to the United Nations Mission in New York and the consulate in Atlanta is also planned.
In addition, a negotiating team will leave The Bahamas this week and are expected to meet with the Cuban authorities in Havana with a view to settling the modalities of how there can be a quicker turnaround of migrants to Cuba.