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Amnesty Seeks Information Amid Human Rights Concerns

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net  

AMNESTY International is requesting that the Bahamas government provide detailed information about its recent migration reform efforts amid allegations that the measures might be leading to human rights violations while “enhancing discrimination in the country”.

The request from the human rights organisation comes ahead of a hearing today at the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The hearing will feature discussions about the illegal immigration situation in this country, including abuse allegations and concerns raised by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA).

Last month, the IACHR requested that this country adopt precautionary measures that would help people detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

A statement released by Amnesty International yesterday said: “Since September 2014 the government of the Bahamas has announced a series of new policies and reforms to the immigration system, including new requirements for migrants residing in the country, such as holding a residence permit for children to be able to enrol in schools. The precise content of these reforms have yet to be made public despite the fact that the authorities have already been implementing some of them creating uncertainty about its details and arbitrariness in its implementation.

“On September 2014, for example, the government announced, that by November 1, everyone living in the Bahamas will be requested to hold a passport of their nationality. This was done within a short time frame and without any published policy nor information campaign targeting the affected populations. “Consequently, according to the authorities, this resulted at that time in the arrest of 77 people in the island of New Providence. Other sources estimated the arrests to be at several hundreds, mainly of which are Haitians or of Bahamians of Haitian descent. Transparency should be paramount in order to prevent human rights to be affected. In a spirit of collaboration with the Bahamian authorities, Amnesty International therefore requests to receive clarifications to a number of questions on the migration reforms, specifically in view of understanding how the government of the Bahamas is planning to implement the new measures in a manner compatible with its international human rights obligations.”

In a short statement released yesterday, a government spokesperson revealed that State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez, QC, will represent the government at the OAS hearing. The hearing will be streamed live today on the OAS’s website between 11.30am to 12.30pm.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 years, 5 months ago

Does Amnesty international have any say, about how black people are being abused and killed by police in the USA. or is it just their business to pick on the Bahamas, and what are they doing about Haiti and the Country with whom Haiti shares a border.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

The USA, unlike most of the rest of the world, including The Bahamas, has not ratified many treaties dealing with Human Rights, International Criminal Court in the Hauge etc.

So you can't compare the US. You can compare Canada or most European countries with The Bahamas.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

Fred Smith and crew are the ones 'enhancing discrimination' in the Bahamas.
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mangogirl01 4 years, 5 months ago

Tell Amnesty International to 'suck a rotten lemon' and on top of that, let all the illegal immigrants into their countries to suck off their electricity, social, health and education services for free!

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

Fred Smith should tackle his real monster - the Haitian government and their mistreatment of Haitians. Haiti is a wonderland of human rights abuses, he could do a lot of good there. But he is too much of a coward to tackle the source. Encouraging illegals to migrate, spreading lies and making exaggerated claims about the Bahamas is much easier. And will not result in a 'Columbian necktie' for him. The Bahamas is, unfortunately, collateral damage as he works out his issues.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

In all fairness to Mr. Smith he has also represented Bahamians in matter where the police did not follow the law. By doing so we are all better off and the police improved their procedures.

Sadly, I and members of my family have witnessed some of immigrations actions and it certainly did not appear that they have much regard for the legal procedure that they should be following.

We have some excellent Bahamians in the Immigration Department but I don't think that they are getting the support that they need from government. Maybe Mr. Smith's actions will help us get to be where we need to be in all this.

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SP 4 years, 5 months ago

Not one peep out of Amnesty international about American blacks being constantly brutalized and slaughtered by corrupt police and racist.??

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

Economist: Mr. Smith is a member of Bahamian bar. Why should he not represent Bahamians in legal proceedings? Beside that whatever good he did In the the past is being overshadowed by his personal crusade to ruin the Bahamas' reputation.

Mr. Smith's plan is to place such an unreasonable cost associated with the documentation and repatriation of illegals that the government would do what it has always done: nothing. While he bemoans the potential disenfranchisement of immigrant children over a small permit fee, he has no concern about the thousands of Bahamians who are disenfranchised by overcrowded schools, hospitals and use of taxpayer funds to process and repatriate illegals.

Besides the upgrades at the detention center, I see no need for a costly procedure overhaul. However, if you witness the mistreatment of anyone by authorities, you should intervene or at the very least use your cell phone to record these incidents. I do not agree with abuse and the minister has said many times the government does not condone abuse of anyone.

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