Carmichael Road Detention Centre
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE Bahamas Government regarded allegations supported in a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as "overstated and inaccurate", in a statement released yesterday.
The statement indicated that the IACHR's decision to issue precautionary measures over alleged conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre appeared to be "prejudicial", adding that the report also referenced concerns that have already been addressed.
It was also revealed that a report commissioned by a panel headed by a former Justice of The Bahamas Court of Appeal about the conditions at the Detention Centre has been completed, and the government is addressing recommendations within the Immigration Department's resources.
"At first blush," the statement read, "it is unfortunate that the report appears to have adopted the narrative of the various human rights groups and press-based advocates that are not based in fact. Many of its assertions are based on untested tendentious, anecdotal material.
"In the face of these inaccuracies, it is difficult to accept any conclusions which flow from this decision of the Commission. It simply strains credibility. The decision is not helpful in resolving the issues which are confronted by illegal migrants to The Bahamas and comes off as prejudicial."
The IACHR, the principal autonomous agency of the Organization of American States, issued its mandate on February 13 after analysing "factual and legal" arguments submitted in applications from three international human rights groups. The IACHR report indicated that the government had not responded to its request for information sent on January 15 to date.
The IACHR set out seven measures for immediate action to ensure the life and physical integrity of persons held in immigration detention, who are believed to be at risk due to alleged inhumane conditions of their detention, such as extreme overcrowding, and the lack of appropriate medical attention.
The IAHCR received a request for the precautionary measures from the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights on December 30.
The allegations were based on interviews with seven women and eight men detained at the Carmichael Road facility in November.
Among the concerns raised, it was alleged that no special considerations are given for women and children detained at the Detention Centre. However, the government last year established a separate facility to house illegal migrant families with children.
The report also referenced similar concerns and recommendations on conditions at the Detention Centre from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012, and a UN Special Rapporteur in 2013.
Yesterday's statement confirmed the government's receipt of the IACHR report and indicated that the document was under review. A diplomatic note on the government's considered response to allegations and recommendations will be dispatched shortly, according to the statement.
The statement read: "The assertions in the decision also appear to be related to facts which do not exist now and some of them did not exist at the time the allegations were made. In particular, we think, is the false narrative about the treatment of certain children.
"The government again states that it is committed to maintaining the highest standards in any of its detention facilities in The Bahamas and works continuously at achieving those standards within the level of resources that are available," it added.