0

Call To Stop Discrimination

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas government must work to address discriminatory practices towards persons of Haitian descent who apply for regularisation, an official from the Haitian Embassy said yesterday.

Wallenson Nobert, first secretary of Legal Affairs at the Haitian Embassy, charged that the “real problem” faced by the Haitian Bahamian community in the Bahamas stems from the absence of a clear legal framework to process migrants.

In response to a panel discussion hosted by the College of the Bahamas on the complex issue of statelessness within the Bahamian context, Mr Nobert challenged that the use of the term “stateless” to describe unregularised persons of Haitian descent was “inappropriate” given Haiti’s citizenship laws.

However, Mr Nobert said there was an inherent “hypocrisy” in the Bahamas’ handling of citizenship that allowed for a peculiar stratification of rights, adding “either you’re a part of a country, or you’re not”.

Led by Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, associate professor in the School of English Studies, presenters focused on the effectiveness of citizenship and related immigration policy, and its application in respect to Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian descent living in the Bahamas.

The panel discussion is the second of its kind for the college, which hosted the first panel on the issue in 2012.

COB student Fiona Joseph argued that the regularisation process has deferred the dreams of many persons of Haitian descent born in the Bahamas, who are forced to wait until they are 18 to begin a lengthy application process.

Ms Joseph gave a personal account of her regularisation process as an individual born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents in her presentation entitled, Stateless and (Ba)Haitian in The Bahamas.

She admitted that she did not apply for Haitian citizenship because it would have further complicated her bid for Bahamian citizenship by forcing her to seek naturalisation instead.

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell confirmed to The Tribune that the government does not issue certificates of identity.

He said: “I do not believe that there is a large group of stateless people. What we have is people born to foreign parents who don’t want to get the passport of their parents. We have stopped issuing certificates of identity.”

In his presentation entitled “Statelessness: Real or Imagined?” Dr Bethell-Bennett charged that while states argue over whether or not statelessness exists, and what type, the reality remains that a large group of people in the Bahamas are trapped in a “grey zone”, disfranchised and unable to access basic rights attached to citizenship.

The large population of unregularised persons represents a critical national security issue, according to Dr Ian Strachan, COB’s vice president of Advancement, who stated that progress on the issue has been stalled because of citizenship’s value as a political bargaining chip.

In his presentation, “Ugly Politics: Haitians and Power in the Bahamas”, Dr Strachan argued that immigration policy and procedures have been used for political advancement over the last 30 years, perpetuating negative stereotypes towards persons of Haitian descent while exploiting the migrant community during the election period.

Presenter Stephen Aranha, assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, provided a critical review of citizenship as defined by the Bahamas constitution, and the recommendations given by the 2012 Constitutional Commission.

Although Haitians represent the largest migrant community, Mr Aranha argued that Immigration processes in the Bahamas were arbitrary, and open to legal uncertainty for all migrants.

Haiti’s constitution affords individuals born of a “native born” Haitian parent automatic entitlement to citizenship, if they choose to accept it, according to Mr Nobert, who encouraged individuals of Haitian lineage to seek assistance from the embassy regardless of their status.

However, presenters argued that the law is not clear on whether or not this right is passed on to third generation descendants whose parents were not born in Haiti, or have no legal documentation.

Presenters called for the government to either lower the age requirement for persons to begin applications for citizenship, or do an overhaul of the requirements to bring them in line with migration realities.

Mr Nobert’s comments echo concerns raised by the United Nations Human Rights Council, most recently the need for strengthened reporting mechanisms and statistical research on migrant communities in the Bahamas.

Comments

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

IF YOU ARE BORN IN THE BAHAMAS, THAT DOESNT GUARANTEE CITIZENSHIP....... the constitution gives the parameters depending on the citizenship status of the parent(s)

ITS THERE FOR ANYONE TO READ.......... PROFESSORS OR POLITICIANS DONT HAVE TO PUT ANY SPIN ON IT.

1

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

This is bs...if you are born in the Bahamas and your are issued a Bahamian birth certificate at birth then your citizenship is Bahamian. There should be no issues as to legalization. Now upon your 18th birthday should you chose to change to the citizenship of your parents then you will apply to that country and depending on their laws regarding dual citizenship you may be required to renounce your Bahamian citizenship. Why do they make everything so difficult?

We so want to be Americanized and first world yet we can't get something so simple as legal citizenship taken care of. You know how many Americans are born to Bahamian parents and end up with dual citizenship. OH!!!! It's because they are Haitian...cause I am sure the Americans born in the Bahamas to American parents don't have this problem.

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

U stick with your "American" views.............. The Bahamas has its own uniqueness................. an if u want to change, amend it.

FYI......... a Bahamian birth certificate doesnot guarantee Bahamian citizenship

0

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

Yet you can use said birth certificate to get a passport...and don't tell me it isn't so because I have done it.

Furthermore that isn't "American" view...Germany just signed a law allowing dual citizenship for children of non-EU parents. Australia automatically grants citizenship at the age of 10 to children of non-Australian parents who have spent most of their life in Australia (I can almost bet these Bahamian born Haitians are not spending any significant portion of their life in Haiti). In Britain children born to parents who are legally in the country but of non British citizen will be considered citizens.

The point I am trying to make is these children are being born in the Bahamas, attending the schools, marrying Bahamians, and never gaining legal status. That makes no sense...

The school level can help with some of this..when these children come to report to school whether Bahamian, Asian, Jamaican, or Haitian they should be asked to provide some form of documentation. Whether it be a permanent resident card or copies of passports, and when they cannot provide the necessary documents to prove they are in the Bahamas legally then immigration should be called. I am sure they will collect plenty illegal parents that way as well. And force the Immigration dept to come up with a sensible solution to the problem.

0

killemwitdakno 6 years, 1 month ago

You sure that's of both non german parents? Germany has history with denying even half Germans because they were half black, ie the "brown babies" of ww2. There's racial tensions and that's why some of their black soccer players quickly switch teams in protest. Australia has a native aborigine obligation. Most of EU countries are getting thousands in a single migration from Africa a day, doubt they're totally open.

Born, raised and undocumented with undocumented children is sad but I think the latter solution is sadder. That would be denying them of a developed mind because people won't send them to school and it would increase crime. Bahamas is under pressure from the US to control the immigration problem.

0

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

Yes, it is non-German but of another European country. Europe isn't totally open however if you are there legally and you have a child that child is considered legal.

At the very least it would catch some of the undocumented ones at a lower level and maybe force the government into making some kind of provisions for these third and fourth generation undocumented aliens. It just doesn't make sense that it gets to a fourth generation of children who have never in their life seen Haiti and yet they have no documentation anywhere.

Truthfully though I blame Bahamians because they turn a blind eye to these situations and use them to their advantage.

0

bahamalove 6 years, 1 month ago

Though I personally sympathise with the plight of individuals who are experiencing this problem, in NO way should the Bahamas start providing immediate citizenship to children of illegal parents that enter and continue to stay in the Bahamas illegally. This will only exacerbate the problem. Everyone will want to take their chances to get here at all costs knowing that getting pregnant and having children right away will ensure some type of legal status in a more desirable country.

People already know that the Bahamas is a free-for-all place where the right amount of money can buy you what you want. The Bahamas is a very small country and it is our right to preserve what little heritage and national identity that we have left. Some nationalities think it is their right to come here, overcrowd our public schools and hospital, use up most of our social services, and live anywhere they please with little consequences. This MUST be stopped!

Successive governments have allowed this problem to persist too long and now we have developed a huge social underclass of people who are angry and disenchanted. The majority of our illegal 'visitors' come from countries that have populations in the millions. Do we really want to open the floodgates into our tiny islands?? These so called 'stateless' persons should apply for citizenship of their parents' home country before they should be considered for any legal status in the Bahamas. And once that happens, only then should a lengthy path to citizenship be considered.

1

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

I see where your point of view is coming from and in some ways I agree. My only thing these children born to illegal parents are the ones that ultimately suffer. After they have spent their entire childhood in the Bahamas and then when it's time for a meaningful job or to maybe even attend college they are blocked because they have no citizenship. I just think some kind of provisions need to be made for such cases. Maybe possibly look at granted at minimum residency and then later exploring the possibility of citizenship based on merit.

As I previously stated many of these cases can be caught from the primary school level. You don't need to provide any citizenship or permanent residency or legal documentation to attend school. I feel that as a parent of an underage child you should be verified as being legal in the country.

This topic is so broad spectrum and no case is similiar...

0

TheMadHatter 6 years, 1 month ago

Well then Haitians need to stop having children here, so that they can grow up to "be the ones that suffer".

The Haitian women now come on the boats already pregnant. It is simply disgusting. Haiti has in effect declared WAR on the Bahamas, and now they are having this stupid conference to try to tell us that we should take off our bullet-proof vests.

The real funny thing is the part of the article that says "Haiti’s constitution affords individuals born of a “native born” Haitian parent automatic entitlement to citizenship, if they choose to accept it, according to Mr Nobert, who encouraged individuals of Haitian lineage to seek assistance from the embassy regardless of their status.

However, presenters argued that the law is not clear on whether or not this right is passed on to third generation descendants whose parents were not born in Haiti, or have no legal documentation."

Notice how he says "Automatic entitlement" - NOT automatic citizenship. He says "if they choose to accept it" - in other words YOU HAVE TO APPLY FOR IT. So they treat their own Haitian people the same we treat them and then they want to complain to us about us treating them that way.

If he cares about Haitians, he should amend their Constitution so that Haitians born abroad with one parent being a natural born Haitian HAVE citizenship simply due to that fact. All they have to do is send in their one parent's birth certificate and their own birth certificate and they get their Haitian passport. But is he going to do that? NO OF COURSE NOT. Instead he will argue with us for not giving them Bahamian citizenship.

THEN he says the law is not clear whether the right is passed on to the third generation. !!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL. But then he says our laws and policies are not clear. I agree with him that our laws are not - but why not fix his own laws first.

They don't care about anything except removing all Bahamians from the Bahamas.

TheMadHatter

1

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't think the issue is of one parent is a Haitian national, I think it speaks more to if both parents are illegal Haitians and the child is born in the Bahamas, how then does the law govern such cases for the Bahamas. Furthermore, what about children born to parents who have no status because they were born to illegal Haitian parents. Essentially you could end up having generations of undocumented individuals.

I mean what do you expect the Bahamas has only in the last ten years given rights to women in terms of property ownership and citizen rights for their offspring.

Instead of arguing who needs to seek asylum for being gay in Canada they need to focus on upgrading our laws in terms of immigration.

And I keep saying it...these children are attending school. Start requiring documents for school, if you are a legal Bahamian with legal parents then you have nothing to worry about.

0

TheMadHatter 6 years, 1 month ago

The U.N. makes us provide schooling to those children. It is in one of the Treaties.

If illegal parents want to make illegal children who have no status and then THOSE no status children grow up and make more no status children - that's their choice. They must just love not having any status.

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

No person is stateless.................. everyone can claim a citizenship .......... even Snowden. It comes down to preference, perks and price

0

killemwitdakno 6 years, 1 month ago

On the nationality note, there must be some affirmative action for the tourism sectors to hire Bahamians other wise the identity and style is compromised. I have American friends expecting that we speak Creole.

0

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

She quite possibly is of Haitian descent..Joseph is a common last name.

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

BahamianAway

The issue of discriminating against school children has already been dealt with......... all children are entitled to an education........ thanks to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the same document that our Constitution Chapter III is modeled after............ go figger

0

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

I understand that but what I am saying is if they are illegal then they shouldn't be in school. Fact is if you show up on the first day of school part of first day procedure should be registration. If you can't prove that you are legally in the country then the Immigration bus will be waiting for you outside the classroom door, and when your parent/s arrive to pick you up they to will be shown the Immigration bus.

Bahamian students born to Bahamian parents are sitting in overcrowded classrooms. There are over 40 students to a class and over 50% of them are Haitians. I read an article the other day where they said over 60% of the students at Anatol Rodgers were Haitians. I would love to know what country other than the Bahamas can you go to where over half your student population are foreign students.

0

lucaya 6 years, 1 month ago

No citizenship for dem, yinna go and fix up Haiti and make it even better dan da Bahamas,to much of yinna here naw,it's ridiculous man...

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

I heard Haiti was sitting on billions of gold?????????????? What happen to dat?????????????

0

killemwitdakno 6 years, 1 month ago

America never paid them back as usual.

0

bismark 6 years, 1 month ago

Too much Haitians are already in this country,for years we have grappled with this problem,it is about to explode sooner or later if something is not done about it,we have allowed the greed of money in the form of cheap labour from these individuals to create this problem we are now experiencing,remedy,raid today,tommorow,daily,i am sure the buses will be filled to capacity,they are not the only illegal ones here,africans as well,chinese, filipinos,they are all out there,the immigration dept needs to step up their game.

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

Its a colour thing......... the lighter you are the quicker you assimilate....... just like on the sugar/cotton plantation. We hunt the Highshuns, but we marry or breed the others........................ Then we have all these single Haitian women having babies for Bahamian men and forget that in our country, the child of a single woman carries the citizenship of the mother........... just like on the sugar plantation of old............ aint life a bitch!!!!!!!!!!

0

RH 6 years, 1 month ago

I must agree that a person is not guaranteed citizenship in The Bahamas because they were born here. I am a Bahamian born to both Bahamian born parents, and I am married to a British man. We now have a daughter and when she was born I was told by immigration that she would have to take the citizenship of her father as her father and I are married. However, if I was single she would have automatically be given Bahamian citizenship. By no means does she have a Bahamian Passport. I applied for her to be naturalised 2 years ago and my application is still pending. What's the justice in this...I feel as if she is being penalised because I opted to have her in wedlock. Whereas Bahamian male offspring's with a foreign women regardless of martial status can get his child a passport automatically. So not to go on a tangent...but we need to look after Bahamian born with Bahamian born parents needs first before we tackle non Bahamian persons and their non Bahamian parents issues of what they think they are entitled to.

1

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

Yep, the black fellas who help put together the constitution were happy being married to their foreign white wives but they made it hard for Bahamian women who wanted to marry foreign men............ what was good for the gander was not good for the goose Moral of the story: where you catch your cold, blow your nose.

0

BahamianAway 6 years, 1 month ago

Where was your child born...cases like these are not straight forward and truth be told you have to fight for what you feel is your due. I was born in the Bahamas to a Bahamian mother and an American father in wedlock. I received Bahamian citizenship automatically and then my father applied for my American citizenship so now I hold dual passports. I have a cousin that was born to Bahamian parents in America. She was given American citizenship automatically and her parents applied for Bahamian citizenship, she to holds dual passports.

Point I am trying to make is the immigration laws are not really as cut and dried as the government would have people believe. If there is going to be any chance of redeeming The Bahamas in terms of immigration they need a whole reform of the laws governing citizenship. The Bahamas as for to long attempted to make peace all over and grant treaties and asylum to people of other nationalities. The Americans can come here and by up land and build big homes out in Lyford Cay I don't hear anyone complaining, the Chinese come and open up Wong Tong shops all over I don't hear anyone complaining, but the Haitians come with picky hair and dark skin and suddenly there is a problem.

I am not condoning by any means illegal immigrants being in the Bahamas but I feel that they should make the laws fair. If the Haitians can't come then neither can the Chinese.

0

DEDDIE 6 years, 1 month ago

RH. Having her in wedlock was not the problem, having her in wedlock with a British national is were your problem began. I sympathies with you. For the sake of disclosure, I am a descendant of a Haitian national but I was fortunate to have been born before 1973(independence) which entitle me to Bahamian citizenship which was the case for all Bahamians who were British subjects at that time. I don't think the Bahamian populace would accept a change in the constitution even though it presents a major problem. The negative impact could be mitigated if upon a child turning 18 they could get citizenship.The government has added an additional three years or more by delaying the processing of such applications. I know a young man who graduated from high school at the age of 16 with seven BGCSE's. He now has to wait until he is 21 or more before he becomes a citizen. By that time society most likely would have lost him.

0

sheeprunner12 6 years, 1 month ago

The post independence Bahamas is not giving persons born here to non-Bahamians the same opportunity like Pindling and Maynard who were born here before 1973 to non-Bahamians ........... aint life a bitch!!!!!!!!! And those guys help set up the friggin rules........ talk about black haters!!!!!!!!

0

ccthemusicman 5 years, 11 months ago

I was born in the Bahamas to Bahamian parents but I moved to Canada and I have dual citizenship with Canada and the Bahamas and I am still classified as a full Canadian citizen

0

Sign in to comment