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Mitchell’S Views On Activists

EDITOR, The Tribune.

The comments of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell have become so unhinged and extremist of late that it is difficult not to find the spectacle amusing.

At the end of the day, however, it is no laughing matter. In his continued attempts to label members of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) as disloyal to The Bahamas and guilty of defaming law enforcement officers, the minister is playing a very dangerous game.

Such unbalanced and misleading public comments are bound to spark unwarranted anger and hostility towards human rights defenders, placing them at the very least in fear for their safety and perhaps even in real physical danger.

Mitchell is to be reminded that his government has already been cautioned in the international arena for seeking to threaten, intimidate and stigmatise human rights defenders. In March at a high-profile hearing before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR), the government’s delegation was repeatedly warned to cease and desist from using unsavoury tactics to try and silence those who seek to offer criticisms of its policies.

The context was a petition brought by the GBRHA alleging human rights abuses against migrants to The Bahamas. Several commissioners brought up the reports of threats against the petitioners by agents of the government, including IACHR president Rosa-Marie Antoine.

“At this commission, we make it clear that our rules and our whole ethos will not tolerate any reprisals or acts of intimidation against any petitioner or any persons who appear before us,” the president said.

IACHR country rapporteur for The Bahamas Tracy Robinson added that the commission is “always concerned when there are allegations of either threats or stigmatization of defenders and we ask the state to pay close attention to the allegations made.”

The GBHRA also met with IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, who assigned a special monitor to closely observe the situation and catalogue all threats and cases of stigmatisation of activists in The Bahamas, with a view to including them in the IACHR annual country report.

The prime minister and other senior members of the PLP are therefore duly reminded that the world is watching. And, as Mitchell himself said in his own recent appearance before the IACHR, “reputation is everything”.

Agents of the government have continuously sought to portray the efforts of the GBHRA and other human rights defenders to promote individual rights and the rule of law as some strange plot to damage the international reputation of the country.

We hereby give the PLP administration fair warning: In allowing Mitchell to continue his petty, dangerous and warmongering tirades against human rights defenders – and his attempts to set the police on whoever he feels has offended him – it is the government that is tarnishing the good name of The Bahamas abroad, not the activist community.

FRED SMITH, QC,

GBHRA president,

August 27, 2015.

Comments

Sickened 4 years, 2 months ago

I respect your valuable support of human rights but PLEASE also help The Bahamas with dealing with this constant influx of illegal immigrants. I know that it is rough almost everywhere in the world now but I truly believe that we have taken in our fair share of illegal immigrants. If your group came up with suggestions of how to reduce the influx and to help to safely return some of the illegals that are here now (perhaps you have already, I can't recall) then most Bahamians will be less hostile towards you when you speak.

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truetruebahamian 4 years, 2 months ago

Well said and very true, even so, Mitchell is not fit for the post that he holds.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 2 months ago

Fred smith has done and continues to do every thing he can to damage the Bahamas. thus the IACHR. Fred must know that the Bahamas is over run by illegals and shanty towns. and Fred wants to start a Haitian Party in the Bahamas. By the way where is his friend Campbell. who has serious criminal matters before the courts in the USA. No other Caribbean Country has allowed so many person to come to their Country illegally., and construct Shanty towns.

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HarryWyckoff 4 years, 2 months ago

Birdie,

While we all know your brain is somewhat addled by too much yellow Kool Aid, you do understand that Fred Smith is 100% Bahamian, and from a family line that has been in the Bahamas for longer than 90% of other Bahamians, right?

Right?

Birdie?

Are you still following?

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EasternGate 4 years, 2 months ago

If only we could put Fred Mitchel in a dinghy and leave him adrift in the ocean

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BMW 4 years, 2 months ago

don't forget the clown called birdie and the rest of the yellow crew

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My2cents 4 years, 2 months ago

HarryWycoff,

He is pushing an agenda that does not benefit Bahamians. His tone is overly aggressive toward Bahamas, and he actively rallies the Haitian community to do the same. He promotes the organization of what would be a self-serving, Haitian political party to possibly run the Bahamas

His status among the Haitian community allows him the opportunity to stem illegal immigration and use that as a source of negotiation. But he does not, it's all or nothing, team Haiti, for him. His actions, if successful, will only widen the flood gate.

He may be Bahamian, but his loyalty seems to lie with Haiti. This might be why some might be confused.

Are you following?

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My2cents 4 years, 2 months ago

Our law enforcement officers uphold the constitution, which is subject to interpretation and therefore, can be argued. I have no problem with that and it in no way means that he is correct. However, he goes beyond arguing for constitutional rights to being inflammatory, aggressive and irresponsible. And I am certain that he would not pass that psych evaluation either.

I do not hold either Fred in high esteem. But I will support any immigration minister, of any party, who is proactive in resolving the problem of illegal immigration. Call it racism if you want, he's doing his job which the majority are in favor of...that's democracy.

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Voltaire 4 years, 2 months ago

My2cents - the statement "Our law enforcement officers uphold the constitution" is probably the most laughable comment I have ever seen on here, and that is saying something. What rock you been living under my friend? Police, defense force and immigration officers routinely mete out violence gratuitously, elicit false confessions through intimidation, violate the mandates of the very laws that give them their powers in the first place... And when they hurt someone excessively and can't hide it, they simply charge that person with a crime so they can spirit him away from public view. Please explain to me how a young Haitian man could be charged with resisting arrest and attacking an officer in Eleuthera, and both the police and immigration claim he was shot in the face accidentally when attempting to disarm an officer, only for the official medical report to reveal that he was shot in the BACK OF THE HEAD! You telling me they didn't shoot this man while he was running away, and lied after to cover it up? What we do in the Bahamas is gangster law enforcement. Uphold the constitution? C'mon man - get real.

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