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Mitchell: We Will Fight Smears Against Country

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday that the government will use every resource to fight any smear campaign against the country.

Standing on special privilege yesterday, Mr Mitchell said the continued criticism from the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association lacked credibility and painted the country in a negative light.

Mr Mitchell added that a meeting with the heads of all law enforcement agencies in the Bahamas would convene today to discuss strategies to tackle illegal migration in Abaco. He said discussions would centre around deciding the timing and logistics of the wide-spread operation.

He explained that Abaco operations would be conducted in an open and transparent way to curb misunderstandings of how the government intended to execute its immigration policies.

Mr Mitchell said the idea of portraying illegal migrants as poor people escaping from poverty should be juxtaposed against the fact of reports that these trips of illegal migrants cost from $1500 to $5,000 a head.

The hefty price tag was a signal that the country was dealing with a criminal enterprise, according to Mr Mitchell, who said the new policies disrupted that criminal enterprise.

“The policies have widespread public support,” Mr Mitchell said. “We are cognizant of the fact that without that support the policies cannot be successful. “The aim of the policy is several fold: to ensure the integrity of the work force and its ‘Bahamianness’;  to ensure the national security of our state and protect its cultural integrity; to regularize those who find themselves in a legal Catch 22 where appropriate; to exclude from the country those who have no right to live and work here. 

“This policy is not targeted at any national group.  It is a generic policy.” 

Mr Mitchell, who is also the MP for Fox Hill, spoke of a report on the Carmichael Road Detention Centre released by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) last week.

In it, the report issued precautionary measures over alleged conditions at the detention centre and gave the government two weeks to adopt them. The Minister noted that the Bahamas is not a signatory of the convention which establishes the IACHR. 

He said: “I wish to remind the public that they should remain calm in the face of the many provocations about our country that now seem to be piling on. When one examines the facts, the public will find that the sources of the information are the same. 

“We do not deny that there may be issues surrounding the policies that are open to debate or that can be challenged, but we deny that there is any official policy of targeting any national group, nor is there any official sponsoring of abuse of any kind against migrants in this country. The Bahamas remains a welcoming, lawful country.

“There is an attempt by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association in particular to paint The Bahamas in an unflattering light. Their motivations are unknown, but they lack credibility and are disreputable in the process. We will fight any smear of our country with every resource that we have,” Mr Mitchell said.

Comments

DonAnthony 5 years, 7 months ago

If Mr. Mitchell spent half the time he does complaining and maligning human rights groups, on addressing these alleged abuses we would not be in the embarrassing mess we are in. And I am tired of him saying "nor is there any official sponsoring of abuse". We all know this, we are not dumb, the question ( never answered) is did these abuses take place and if so how will they be remedied? But he dances around never addressing the issue hoping it will go away or that the Bahamian public is too stupid to see his verbal dodging.

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ispeakthetruth 5 years, 7 months ago

Honestly, it's not quite the embarassing mess you would like to believe. The international press is not really covering the alleged inhumane conditions and alleged human rights abuses at the center...sorry! They must also take these claims with a grain of salt.

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ispeakthetruth 5 years, 7 months ago

Please extend this invitation to include the department of immigration and our country. But hopefully, you are proudly living in Jamaica. Also, please do a little research on your homeland, because you are sadly mistaken if you believe the conditions of your detention centers and prisons are any better. In fact, the complaints and conditions are very similar, and also cited in an IACHR report...based on facts and not biased complaints of career "victims". If it did, I am sure it would have been much worse.

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whistleblower 5 years, 7 months ago

As I mentioned before, Bahamians need to know that the likes of Louby Georges and the other crew will never respect anything that minister Mitchell or the government introduces to try and curb the Haitian dilemma nor will they acknowledge any policies that try to make some sense of this immigration problem.

It is one thing to disagree with Mitchell, but to lambaste his name is another thing. Some of the comments shown by certain followers of Louby George's Facebook page below say it all. Notice that Louby does not even caution or chastise the follower that calls Fred a "CC"

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Cas0072 5 years, 7 months ago

I believe they are saying cc (carbon copy), as in include Fred Smith on the discussion. That also fits with the other comments.

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whistleblower 5 years, 7 months ago

Really??? If you actually think that's what that means, then you are quite naive about the Haitian community. Hint, the user-name is "GQ Danger". BTW it's the way they speak.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 7 months ago

The for ever embarrassed Don Anthony, The Truth is the Bahamas Mr: Mitchell nor the Bahamian people have anything to be embarrassed about. There is nothing wrong with putting immigration laws in place . This is the only place in the world where one can go uninvited, build shanty, have access to free medical care, free schooling and make plans to form your own Haitian party. Think for one moment would a Bahamian be allowed to do this in Haiti. Fred Smith is trying to build a party, him and Lubi George, so the more illegals come the better for them. It appears they want to bring Haiti to the Bahamas and raise the Haitian flag on Bahamian soil. I never realize it was so dangerous Now I believe it is because of the rants and rages of George and Fred Smith.

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Cas0072 5 years, 7 months ago

You don't have to prove to me that illegal Haitians are negatively expressing their opinions on something that has nothing to do with the issue at hand as this has been their MO. No one can control what other people say. I support identifying the illegals and getting them out so that they can test freedom of speech in Haiti.

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Emac 5 years, 7 months ago

Not illegal Haitians, but Bahamians with Haitian origin.

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Cas0072 5 years, 7 months ago

They have basically shown no difference in attitude, so both.

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GrassRoot 5 years, 7 months ago

starting a witch hunt? looking for 2nd class Bahamians? Lets also book the Bahamians that are making money bringing in the illegals. Why are they not being caught? And if it is not Bahamians, but Haitians in the Bahamas, who are the corrupt police officers and immigration officers that close their eyes? Why are there safe houses for illegal immigrants in Rose Island, everybody knows and no one acts? Who owns these houses? go after them.

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ispeakthetruth 5 years, 7 months ago

Witch hunt? I believe they are the ones doing the smearing. Do you and the other Haitians and Haitian Bahamians ever tire of playing the victim? You're usually not victims, please start to accept this fact. Then maybe we can engage in constructive dialogue based in reality.

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Cas0072 5 years, 7 months ago

I meant that the illegal Haitians and the so called Bahamians who are of Haitian descent take no issue with spouting off negativity against this country with no thought to the consequences. The process of identifying, documenting, and deporting illegals is not a witch hunt. It is called enforcing the law. No one said that Bahamian citizens should be deported, but I think you knew that. Bahamians, no matter how many generations deep should also be held accountable for their roles in this persistent issue. Just so that you don't feign confusion again, by accountable, I mean awarded with jail time and/or fines.

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Emac 5 years, 7 months ago

2nd class Bahamians???? What is that? I believe that all Bahamians are equal. The problem we have is that people like Georges and yourself are the ones who are trying to demonize the Bahamas government and all right-thinking Bahamians who agree with the policies that are being implemented by this government. You do this by dividing the Bahamians with Haitian origin against other Bahamians, making those with Haitian parentage feel as if they are the main targets, when in fact the main issue here is illegal immigrants. People like you need to make up your mind about whose side you are on. It shouldn't matter whether you have Haitian blood or not. What should matter is that you are a Bahamian who contributes in our society. Any true Bahamians would not think twice about supporting what is best for the Bahamas, as long as the government is not abusing people.

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The_Oracle 5 years, 7 months ago

Like it or not, we let them in, utilized them, shun them, abuse them, and now want to throw them out. Mr. Mitchell presides over this mess, and has presided over it in the past along with other who have all done nothing (except lip service) as policy. It is no different than the erosion of the rule of law in all other areas of Bahamian society. Some things once let go (or destroyed) cannot be put to rights, cannot be wiped clean, cannot be done over.

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ispeakthetruth 5 years, 7 months ago

There are two sides to this mess. The illegal Haitians who broke our laws to gain entry and Bahamians (primarily Bahamians of Haitian descent) that allowed them in with no resistance. The Bahamas/Bahamians should not be the only ones who sufffer for this. There should be repercussions for all. Why is that hard to understand? What you and others seem convinced of is that Haitians are powerless victims and should bear no responsibility for their actions. Don't they have the capacity to think and act for themselves? And please don't give us another speel about the hardships that Haitians face that cause them to break the law. Isn't that why many break laws?

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 7 months ago

Laws should be put in place, to charge, hefty fines on persons who hire and protect illegal Immigrants they are finding comfort from some people that is why they continue to come.

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