By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.