By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
UNLESS the alleged victim files an official complaint, Immigration officials will not be investigating the claim that a Cuban woman was raped and impregnated while at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
Immigration Director William Pratt said there is nothing his department can do because the victim – who has been deported to Cuba – did not report the alleged incident.
He added that it was highly unlikely that there would be any evidence to support claims after so much time had passed.
Mr Pratt said: “If a rape report comes to us, we normally would turn the matter over to the Royal Bahamas Police Force immediately. There is no report that any of my officers were involved, even if it was my officers or
Defence Force officers, once the matter is reported it would be turned over to the Royal Bahamas Police Force for investigation.”
“[Immigration officers] are the administrators of the detention centre,” he said. “If a female lodged a complaint with the officer in charge, they would brief me on it and the matter would be handed over to the police. We don’t take those charges lightly.”
A member of a Florida watchdog group, The Democracy Movement, made the rape claim against a Defence Force officer at a press conference in Miami last week.
At the press conference, activists revealed the name of the victim’s rapist (withheld by The Tribune) and identified the officer responsible as a ringleader of alleged abuse.
The 24-year-old victim is said now to be three months pregnant.
Mr Pratt said he was not aware of any rape report since taking office on January 7.
He said: “If someone comes forward and says they were raped, the first thing is try to get them checked out. If needed we will bring social services or the Crisis Centre to ensure proper tests are done, to ensure there is evidence. While [victim] was in custody she could have identified the officer if she was raped, but if such a claim did take place I don’t know how that’s going to be proven.”
“The likelihood of evidence is low, we still would definitely have to investigate it, but it’s a pity if that happened and [victim] refused to speak of it in our custody.”
“[The victim] could have reported to a female officer,” he added. “We pay officers overtime every night to ensure a female is always there.”
Mr Pratt explained that male officers are not allowed to access female dormitories without the presence of a female officer, and that only female officers hold keys to the dorms at night.
Mr Pratt added: “If no charges come forth, if they are going to wait until they leave and then come forward, there is nothing we can do.”