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Human rights violations concern from Amnesty

By RICARDO WELLS

AMNESTY International yesterday expressed concern over the application of the Bahamas’ new immigration policy, fearing it has led to human rights violations.

The global rights organisation claimed that the Haitian-Bahamian community have been “disproportionately targeted” by immigration officials and are being denied due process before deportation.

The group also voiced concerns over the details of the policies that took effect on November 1, saying the entire policy had never been made public, therefore making the policy’s “arbitrariness” unclear.

The new immigration measures stipulate that every person living in the Bahamas is required by law to have a passport of the country of their nationality.

In a statement Amnesty International said: “This extremely short deadline has made it very difficult for people to obtain a passport from their country of birth, potentially making thousands fall into a situation of irregular migration.”

Also mandated in the new policy were procedures surrounding identification documents for children born to parents not possessing legal status in the Bahamas. Identification documents will no longer be issued to children of illegal residents and those that had been previously granted would not be eligible for renewal.

Amnesty said: “As these documents are necessary to prove eligibility to apply for Bahamian citizenship, their removal could potentially leave thousands stateless.”

Amnesty pronounced after comments made by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell, in which he said “there is so much criminality involved in immigration that these new rules and procedures are necessary in order to get on top of this problem”. Amnesty claimed that language used by government “stigmatises” migrants and enables “discrimination and xenophobia” in the Bahamas.

“Some press reports and estimates by local civil society put that number at several hundreds,” the statement said. “The vast majority of those arrested were Haitians or Bahamians of Haitian descent. Many of those arrested were subsequently released when family members presented documentation to the authorities proving their regular status to reside and/or work in the Bahamas.”

According to official documents 77 people were detained, including Chinese, Filipinos, Jamaicans and Haitians from various areas of New Providence the day the government’s immigration restrictions took effect.

Amnesty International alleged that many people were not given the opportunity to show their documentation. “There have been allegations that immigration officials forced themselves into people’s houses in order to arrest them,” the statement said.

In September, Mr Mitchell announced that the government would impose new immigration restrictions on November 1 in a bid to clamp down on illegal migration, particularly from Haiti.

There were recent assurances from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that all operations carried out in recent weeks have been in accordance with the laws of the Bahamas. It claimed: “There has been no breach of the law and no violation of anyone’s constitutional rights, sanctioned by the Bahamas Government in the enforcement of the country’s immigration laws”.

Comments

Regardless 7 years, 10 months ago

The local rep for Amnesty International should get his people straight. He has been living more than comfortably for years in this country off the estate of a relative who married into huge money. Having a hissy fit over the conditions at Fox Hill is one thing. Protecting our borders is another. If you are illegal, then you are not supposed to be here, including those who breed like rabbits.

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GrassRoot 7 years, 10 months ago

99% of the political and economical elite lives very comfortably in this country, so what is your point? I find it quite generous if one of them dedicates his time and talents to a greater cause than his own bank account. Whether this is in line with your own view of the world or not is hereby totally irrelevant. Ever got your hands dirty helping (Bahamian) people in need?

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Regardless 7 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely. On many occasions and it is for the most part a thankless task. Dedication to slamming the government for protecting the borders, albeit very late in the day, is not an act of generosity to Bahamians by an expat in his or her adopted home.

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eden 7 years, 10 months ago

If Amnesty International is so concerned about Haitians then it should help them to stay in Haiti,
and teach them how to make lives better in their own country! The Bahamas is a small nation with a small population we don't need to be invaded by these people. Let The USA take them they are far more financially equipped and Little Haiti Ms. Campbell will be able to get them all green cards! No other Caribbean nation wants Haitian in their country and nor should us. Dominican Republic did the same thing why didn't Amnesty International intervene? Let the Haitian government use all the money they got from around the world to help its citizen and be accountable for what it did with all the money to rebuild Haiti after the Tsunami. Haitians need to make their government responsible for their economic growth and well being in Haiti not The Bahamas! Our country is tired of the burden impose on our education and medical system due to the illegal migration of Haitians.

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EasternGate 7 years, 10 months ago

My issue with Amnesty International is that they meddle where they do not belong. In civilized country, with democratically elected government, where the rule of law functions, there is no need for this organization. Where they are needed they have absolutely no effect or influence. Dictatorships like China and Russia, and Muslim governed countries.

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ohdrap4 7 years, 10 months ago

well there is one strsange feature of the policy, that one must have a passport at all times.

people have to send passports in the mail to be renewed when there is no local embassy, or to to obtain visas to countries which have no embassy in the bahamas. they could be without passports for several weeks, while still maintaining legal status to live or work.

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TheMadHatter 7 years, 10 months ago

The Amnesty people say “The vast majority of those arrested were Haitians or Bahamians of Haitian descent. Many of those arrested were subsequently released when family members presented documentation to the authorities proving their regular status to reside and/or work in the Bahamas.”

REALLY - YOU MEAN THEY WERE NOT JUST SHIPPED OUT LIKE DOGS LIKE SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING? YOU MEAN THEY WERE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THEIR PAPERS AND WHEN THEY DID THEY WERE RELEASED? WOW THAT SOUNDS WAY DIFFERENT THAN THE NONSENSE COMING FROM MIAMI.

According to official documents 77 people were detained, including Chinese, Filipinos, Jamaicans and Haitians from various areas of New Providence the day the government’s immigration restrictions took effect.

REALLY - YOU MEAN THEY WERE NOT ALL HAITIANS - BUT PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES TOO?????????????? YOU MEAN THIS IS NOT A WITCH HUNT FOR HAITIANS ONLY - BUT AN EFFORT TO SECURE THE BAHAMAS FOR BAHAMIANS AGAINST PEOPLE FROM ANY NATION WHO ARE BREAKING THE LAW? WOW THAT SOUNDS WAY DIFFERENT THAN THE NONSENSE COMING FROM MIAMI.

TheMadHatter

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SP 7 years, 10 months ago

......Sign the petition to stop the Haitian invasion and support the governments initiative........

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/s...">http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/s...

Naturally, we expect some backlash and negative feedback from various international and human rights quarters. However, WE THE PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS, stand firmly in our belief that inaction short would certainly lead to the self-inflicted genocide of our people.

We know and understand government are under pressure from various sides on this very controversial issue. Please rest assured that WE THE PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS stand 100% firmly behind you, and look forward to demonstrating our support with your compliance.

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expatkz 7 years, 10 months ago

What is so complicated about treating other humans with respect and leaving their dignity intact. Have a written policy and publicize it, then stick to it. Any such policy surely would not include basic human rights violations such as wholesale roundups based on what you look like(Haitian) , what you talk like (Jamaican accent) and where you live(shanty town). Also it would not include the hasty burning of shanty towns and the picking up of children. I have seen it myself the past 18 months while living here. The black on black racism is deplorable. In the us, we have millions entering illegally, we don't like it either, but we don't let our govt resort to the cruel and Gestapo like tactics that the Bahamian govt is doing. Besides if you throw out all the Haitian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, etc then who will be the sweet hearts of all the two and three timing Bahamian males???

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