By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Chairman Darron Cash has filed a report against the government with Amnesty International over alleged human rights abuses in the aftermath of a search at his home and seizure of personal items.
Citing political persecution in two lengthy narratives released yesterday, Mr Cash called for immediate legislative reform through amendments to the Criminal Procedures Code; the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman; the enactment of a Whistleblower Protection Act and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr Cash also raised concerns about the warrant police produced to search his home. The FNM chairman said the document was signed by a justice of the peace, who was a religious preacher with no legal training. He charged that the practice should be eliminated immediately as it presented a loophole for “recklessness and abuse”.
Mr Cash added that the warrant misspelt his name, and “suggested” that he was an employee of the Bank of the Bahamas and had possession of its assets.
“As a general rule, justices of the peace have no legal training and truly represent the lowest bar possible when the police must seek permission and present justification for the search and seizure of citizens’ properties,” he said in a statement released yesterday.
“In the case of this national political party chairman this matter has emerged as a clear cut case of abuse of power.”
According to Mr Cash, the Bank of the Bahamas, the government, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force have “unjustifiably” associated him and his family with “whistleblower disclosures” made in the local tabloid, The Punch.
In one document, Mr Cash gives an account of his personal connection to the bank and the concerns over its financial performance for the past seven years.
He said: “I have specifically charged the government of Perry G Christie with violating several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR). The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The statement continued: “This action is just the first step in what I expect will be a multiple step process over the next several weeks to highlight the incidences of human rights abuses by the Christie government and to bring attention and focus to the manner in which our democratic systems and rights are being weakened and violated on a daily basis by this government.”
“These submissions will be further disseminated to other agencies whose mandates include the protection and preservation of human rights. Governments such as the US Government who have reported on human rights in the Bahamas will be petitioned to update their superficial reporting on human rights in the Bahamas.
“Victimisation, intimidation, denial of jobs and contracts are real but they are too frequently underplayed in international reporting,” Mr Cash’s statement added.
Mr Cash added that he remained steadfast in his commitment to public service.
Last month, police officers seized two laptops and a smartphone, the property of Mr Cash, during a search of his home as part of an investigation reportedly into leaked confidential files at the Bank of the Bahamas.
Two days later, Mr Cash’s lawyer Carl Bethel filed a constitutional motion in the Supreme Court arguing that his client’s rights had been violated.
According to The Nassau Guardian, Mr Cash said his belongings were returned less than a week after they were seized, but he has not used them because he believes they were “laden with spyware”.
Mr Cash has since reached an “amicable agreement” with the Attorney General’s Office and the Commissioner of Police concerning his “violation of his rights” case, according to his lawyer.
Speaking outside of the Supreme Court on May 15, Mr Bethel told reporters his client was satisfied with the outcome, while not releasing the details of the agreement.
Mr Bethel said: “A solution, which in the view of my client, vindicates his having brought this matter to court on the basis that his rights were violated, which also acknowledges the right of the police to conduct a lawful investigation.”
The FNM has branded the search of Cash’s home as a witch hunt.