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Govt Says Immigration Claims 'Bizarre And Outlandish' At Washington Hearing

Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Elliston Rahming and State Minister of Legal Affairs Damian Gomez at the hearing.

Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Elliston Rahming and State Minister of Legal Affairs Damian Gomez at the hearing.

By AVA TURNQUEST

TribuneChief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

State Minister of Legal Affairs Damien Gomez hit out at "bizarre and outlandish" allegations against the government's immigration policy, at a hearing in Washington, DC, on Friday, while the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) said detention of migrants should be a measure of last resort.

The four member IACHR panel of human rights experts sought answers on matters concerning raids, deportations and the related due process; overcrowding at the detention facility; access to the facility for consular support, legal aid, and human rights monitoring; allegations of physical and verbal abuse; identification of non-nationals by officials; the detention of migrant children; and the issue of statelessness.

The panel also raised concerns that the government's new policy did not yet have a legal basis, and asked whether officials would be willing to consult with the agency on proposed amendments to the Immigration Act that are currently before parliament.

The panel consisted of: Rose-Marie Antoine, IACHR Chair, and commissioners Tracy Robinson, Felipe González, and José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez.

The thematic hearing was requested by local and international human rights organizations: Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, and the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association. Pierre Parisien of the Haitian Organization for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDS spoke to the concerns of the migrant community.

Representing the government, Minister of Legal Affairs Damien Gomez restated its stance against "bizarre and outlandish" allegations that have provoked public "outrage and contempt".

He referenced public comments made by local petitioners that characterised the government's actions concerning the enforcement of its immigration policy as "ethnic cleansing".

Mr Gomez said: "The false, baseless, and malicious allegations made against the Bahamas and its people is deserving of a response."

"We are completely awestruck that these sanitary changes to law of immigration are being questioned, when all that we are seeking to do is to ensure that these persons are enable to live regular, normal lives.

Mr Gomez said: "When laws are passed, persons will be able to open a bank account, participate in a formal economy and yet we are here and we are being criticised for attempting to ameliorate the condition of the very people the petitioners are claiming to represent."

However, Ms Antoine advised Mr Gomez that the commission had not heard, nor had been privy to such comments.

"We have not been swayed by outlandish comments," she said.

"We have responded and agreed to a hearing out of a legitimate concern to interrogate an immigration situation which we believe may have important impact on human rights, that is the only concern here today."

On November 1, the government introduced a wider immigration policy that, among other things, required every non-Bahamian living in the country to have a passport of their nationality with proof of their status to live and work in the Bahamas.

The government tabled the highly anticipated Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2015 last month. The bill, if passed, will allow officials to grant resident belonger permits; establish a sector policy that outlines the exercise of ministerial discretion as it relates to residence and employment, create an Immigration Reserve and establish a legal framework for the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

Wade McMullen, RFK Human Rights Managing Attorney, said: "It remains unclear what procedures have been adopted [by Bahamas government] to ensure a fair examination of all [belonger permit] applications, as there has been no publication of the new rules nor sufficient public education to raise awareness about the new requirements.

"The raids have resulted in overcrowded detention conditions that amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," he said.

"Detainees are regularly denied access to legal counsel, judicial process, and international protection regimes; they face summary deportations, and many risk becoming stateless."

Mr McMullen added that the group was thankful for the opportunity to engage the country in dialogue focused on finding a solution to protect human rights given the rise of hostility to migrants - in particular persons of Haitian descent - in the region.

Diego Alcalá, deputy director Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, pointed out that the risk of detention, deportation, and statelessness was intensified by the country's nationality laws, which places limitations based on gender to the transfer of citizenship onto their children. Mr Alcalá explained that government statements have indicated that enforcement exercises will be conducted in areas known to be largely populated by Haitian migrants, despite its defence that its policy did not target specific groups.

Mr Alcalá referenced a post made on FaceBook by Oswald Brown, Press cultural affairs and information manager of the Embassy of the Bahamas in Washington, as worrisome, given the protections afforded to petitioners under international law.

In the post, Mr Brown wrote that he intended to use every resource he had to confirm that the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association had made fraudulent claims about their meeting with the members of the United States Senate, and to report the fraud for possible criminal charges.

During his intervention, Mr Gomez explained that the “bizarre allegations" made against the Bahamas may have "coloured" the public statements of private citizens, adding that the government was prepared to defend the free speech of either party.

During her remarks, Ms Robinson cautioned that allegations of threats or stigmatisation of human rights defenders should be taken seriously by the state.

Mr Parisien charged that members of the Haitian community were living in fear of abuse from immigration officials daily. Fears range from physical abuse, property damage, the well-being and education of their children, detention and deportation, he said. Mr Parisien explained that the overcrowded dormitories at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre were sites of extreme suffering, where persons were subjected to physical, verbal and psychological abuse with no clean water or proper diet. He alleged that detainees did not have access to legal counsel or communication with their families.

He claimed that members of the Haitian community have also expressed fear for his wellbeing given his participation in yesterday's hearing.

"I stand here not as a Bahamian, American nor a Haitian," Mr Parisien said, "but as a humanitarian on behalf of humanity, not for any country. It only happened that the largest concerned group is the Haitian nationals and Bahamians of Haitian descent.

He added: "But every single migrant is affected by these governmental policies."

In his response, Mr Gomez underscored the country's established commitment to human rights in colonial and postcolonial history.

He pointed to the open invitation of the IACHR to conduct an onsite visit as evidence of the government's transparent adherence to the democratic rule of law, adding that the government would present its formal written response to concerns raised within a short period of time.

Mr Gomez also extended a personal invitation for commissioners to forge relationships with the academic community at the College of the Bahamas as it transitions to university status.

"The deepening of regional sensitivity to human rights and the understanding thereof depends in large measure upon a viable intellectual debate across cultures and borders," he said.

During his presentation, Mr Gomez displayed pictures of a safe house for minors and their mothers, and a new $1 million dormitory at the Carmichael Road Detention Center.

However, commissioners pointed out that the pictures did not alleviate concerns related to overcrowding and the large volume of detainees, and the detention of children.

Mr Gomez stated that overcrowding at the Carmichael Road Dentention Center was situational, adding that 172 men and 16 women were in detention.

Last night, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell confirmed that the dormitory buildings were "finished some time ago and more recently received their occupancy certificates".

The IACHR presentation was the second visit to the OAS by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association on the issue of migrant human rights.

President Fred Smith said that it was regrettable that human rights conditions had worsened in the country since his organisation's first appearance before the international body in the late 1980s.

At the hearing, Ms Antoine said: "I am also a bit unclear as to where policy stops and law begins, both in terms of the new bill that is before parliament and what exactly it will change but also in relation to the new policy.

"The due process requirements when you are detained, what happens next? Do you have an appeal? We were told that the Immigration Act already has those provisions in it and the constitution. International law's view is that detention must be a last resort, my understanding is that it is not a last resort so perhaps you can tell us a bit more about that."

Ms Antoine also expressed concerns over criminal implications the new law may impose on humanitarian efforts to assist persons that are suspected illegal migrants, whose illegal status may have been determined without due process.

Comments

empathy 4 years, 5 months ago

Riveting. Again this highlights the importance of "the Rule of Law", and why it's important to craft policies and laws with that in mind.

Surely what can be gleaned from the IACHR commission's hearing and the defense of our Bahamian government is that the business of running a country is not trite both in terms of ability and expense. We need to up our game and give it the attention and performance it deserves.

What is also clear is the rear ended approach that we, like others have had with regards to immigration policies, especially when it comes to migrant issues. We would be better served to change our policing, investigative and prosecution strategies against the traffickers, employers and other enablers of those who take advantage of illegal migrants. The present policies of arresting and harassing migrants brought here out of desperation on their part and the greed of the enablers is similar to arresting the Call-girl, while allowing the "John" to get off Scott free.

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Observer 4 years, 5 months ago

Nonsense,utter nonsense and pontificating. No-body has the right to enter my territory without my consent and or challenge. Get with it. You are encouraging lawlessness.

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Space 4 years, 5 months ago

and you are completely and entirely missing the point

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 5 months ago

The persons on the IACHR panel except for Robinson all seemed to have come from foreign Countries. they have left the place of their birth. They are only saying what Fred Smith has told them. Fred seems to want a wet foot dry foot policy. If one is in the Bahamas without the proper document they are illegals . There is no Country in the World that a Bahamian can go without the proper documents. Do these persons have the right to change the laws of the Bahamas only the Bahamas?

Parisien knows that no one will harm him so why all the drama , he mentioned the woman whose baby was born on the floor many Bahamian people had their babies on the floor, and I am sure it is very common in Haiti, The persons in charge said they were not allowed to help her Jesus was born in a manger. the last time I checked they are giving the Bahamian Civil servants a bad name they deserve better. What does Parisien consider to be a proper diet. .

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

They all come from their own countries. Robinson is from Jamaica. Yes they have the right to enforce international conventions. Failure for us to do so can lead to sanctions. Probably tourism would be the first one to get hit.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

You sound like an angry old man. You appear to be someone who is lost in some fantasy world. You sound like someone who thinks that The Bahamas exists in a bubble. It is bubble thinkers that allowed the immigration problem to get to the point it is today.

Like you they were incapable of comprehending the world, and The Bahamas as a part of the world.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

What international convention is being broken? Stop it.

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licks2 4 years, 5 months ago

You seem hell-bent on missing the boat!!! Did you listen to the same session that the rest of us did!! I thought that our human rights group sounded so foolish and alarmist without hard facts. . .sad to say THE INTERNATIONAL GROUP THOUGHT THE SAME. . .so they give you all means to record what yall were saying. . .yinna do not have any case that can meet the muster under international customary laws. . .SO SAID THE UN LAW COUNCIL!!

My conclusion was that Fred Smith did us the biggest favor by going to that meeting. . .SO THE REST OF THE WORLD COULD SEE WHAT NINNY WE HAD TO DEAL WITH!

In other words. . .they told Smith them. . .CARRY YALL TAILS HOME AND TAKE DIS RECORDER WID YINNA AND NEX TIME THEY "SLAP" YINNA AROUND. . .RECORD IT AND THEN COME BACK. . .YA HEAR!!

Something very important was told to Fred Smith there I doubt he get it! The hot head was told that freedom ta say whatever ya want does go two ways there so!!! And they went on to tell him that he can't go around saying crap and then crying when he get in trouble for saying shed!!! THEN THEY TELL THEM. . .GO HOME AND WE GER WATCH WHAT HAPPEN. . .WHILE YALL RECORD WHAT HAPPEN IN FUTURE.!!

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

They are all well educated in this field. Ms. Robinson has fought for the rights of women and others for years. She as also spent many hours training Bahamians at UWI.

This may be our country but we are a part of their world. They will not be going to hell.

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Voltaire 4 years, 5 months ago

Hahahah - generalcrazy and birdie, y'all don't realize that y'all are just making the GBHRA's case for them? You think a single hateful sentence you write will not become part of a dossier put together by the activist and submitted to the INCHR, the UN the US State Department, the Senate, CARICOM and whoever else they met with and sensitized to their plight? They will add your words to all the threats uttered by government lackeys and make a case for why we are a country that targets and harasses those who speak out. We will end up begging for tourists to full up Atlantis and Baha Mar. Your words will condemn the government you so desperately seek to protect. Y'all work for Fred Smith hey? :P

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

"You think a single hateful sentence you write will not become part of a dossier put together by the activist and submitted to the INCHR, the UN the US State Department, the Senate, CARICOM and whoever else they met with and sensitized to their plight? They will add your words to all the threats uttered by government lackeys and make a case for why we are a country that targets and harasses those who speak out. "

Well then they're not very professional

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Space 4 years, 5 months ago

Exactly what about that is unprofessional?

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

Going through individuals comments to gather verbiage ? really?

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licks2 4 years, 5 months ago

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SANCTIONING FREE SPEECH. . .THE FREE SPEECH OF A FREE PEOPLE AMUNG THEMSELVES?? ARE YOU HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS OR ARE YOU SUPRESSORS OF FREE SPEECH? BY THE WAY. . .WHO IS MONITORING THE CRAP THAT COMES OUT OF FRED SMITH'S MOUTH. . .HE MAKES THE MOST OUTRAGIOUS STATEMENTS ABOUT A FREE POEPLE. . .IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY! HE USED TERMS LIKE NAZI. . .TERRORISTS ETC!!! WHO IS MONITORING THAT LOOSE CANNON??

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licks2 4 years, 5 months ago

Do you mean that the human rights people who are fighting for their rights to say whatever the hell they feel like will be taking a FREE citizen's free speech (the same thing they had that OAS meeting for) from the internet and sending it to other human rights folks. . .THE SAME ONES WHO ROW THE BAHAMAS ABOUT NOT MESSING WITH FRED FREEDOM TO SAY WHATEVER HE MAY WITHOUT ANY KIND OF SANCTIONS PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?? AND THEY WILL NOT SEND THE CRAP THEY SAID TO PROVOKE THE CITIZEN TO IRE!!

This is a free country madam. . .freedom to speak ones mind without some powerful group imposing sanctions is what they say they are about!!! CANT YOU SEE THAT THE OAS IS AVOIDING ACTING LIKE JACK BOOTED NAZI THEMSELVES ON THE BEHEST OF PERSONS LIKE FRED SMITH ETC!!! FOR EXAMPLE, MR SMITH SAYS ALL KIND OF VOLATILE CRAP OUT OF HIS MOUTH AND HE EXPECT NOBODY TO SAY ANYTHING TO HIM! FRED SMITH AND HIS ALLIES HERE IN THE BAHAMAS IS MAKING HUMAN RIGHT AN OXYMORON!!!

AND BY ALL MEANS YALL CAN TAKE MY STATEMENT AND SEND IT TO THE UN. . .MAYBE THEY NEED TO START AN INVESTIGATION OF FRED THEM LIKE THEY DID WITH FINANCIAL WRONG DOINGS OF AMNEST INTERNATIONAL HQ AND FIRE SOME PEOPLE AS THEY DID AFTER THEIR FINDINGS!

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Cas0072 4 years, 5 months ago

@volatire - These are the comments of private citizens, just like the many comments of so called Haitian Bahamians on the internet have been defamatory and incendiary. Unless the government endorses these comments, your point is moot. And listen to you - if we are begging for tourists we certainly will not be in a position to hire gardeners and the like. Be careful what you wish for.

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Voltaire 4 years, 5 months ago

The commission clearly said - even chastising Gomez - that the state has more than a responsibility to prosecute those who attack human rights defenders; they have a responsibility to PREVENT those attacks, verbal, physical or written.

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Cas0072 4 years, 5 months ago

Ridiculous, how does one prevent attacks? Do tell. In particular how does one muffle comments on the internet, even those by illegal residents, when we have freedom of speech. These are their opinions. With the anonymity of the internet, it could even be claimed that these people are working for Fred Smith, just as you joked but in all seriousness. And unless a specific threat is made on this forum, we will never know. If Anson Aly could get away with a clear threat on tv, comments in the Tribune comments sections should certainly not be at stake.

Also, it is questionable what they deem as attacks via the internet. The so called threat that was printed in the Tribune article was no threat all.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

Seriously, bullying. Did you have a look at all the white power websites allowed on the web?

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Sickened 4 years, 5 months ago

What about my rights to live in my country without an alleged 60,000 illegal immigrants who smother our social services sector and health care systems so that I am forced to spend $1,000 a month on health insurance for my family? What about those Bahamians that overstay their welcome in the U.S. and get locked up for months before they are deported home? What about those Bahamians in the U.S. who have lived there for years, bought a house, send their children to school and then one day are told by Homeland security that they can no longer go back to the U.S. for 10 years because they are suddenly considered illegal immigrants? We want a better life as well but I don't see any other country letting Bahamians flock onto their shores and steal electricity and building a fire hazard house to live in.

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Voltaire 4 years, 5 months ago

Its not about the rights or wrongs of it, - the commission will clearly take any evidence presented to them of hostility against Smith and his crew, as evidence that human rights defenders are under threat in the Bahamas. Therefore, the Bahamas will become one of those places on the list of "questionable" countries. Again whether its true or not is irrelevant; you have to understand your audience. As Mitchell said in his presentation to the OAS "reputation is everything." We have to learn to think strategically in these situations, and stop being so childish.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

The so called Human rights defenders are not under attack, if we want to be honest. The government, if you are keeping up with the news, are the ones under attack for trying to bring some order to illegal immigration. Again, this is one of Fred Smith's exaggerations. This group will side with anyone who claims to be pro human rights, while claiming the government to be anti human rights.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

They're not 100% , there's something more to it. Head honcho to be determined. Why didn't he bring up the wrongs against Bahamians who were falsely accused when speaking out? Like the police who asked for pay, the activist who's head was stepped on, the firing of Chrissy Love after election, the prosecution of Rodney Moncur for "inappropriate photos" when protesting the lack of investigation into police brutality that ended in murder, the "I know where their bodies are buried", the other incidents you could dig through tribune to find.

Bahamians don't pay him thousands after a court case for status..

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licks2 4 years, 5 months ago

YOU TALK ABOUT COMMUNICATION BEING MONITORED IN THE BAHAMAS AND SAYING SUCH SHED LIKE THIS OUT IN THE OPEN? GIRL YOU FULL OF IT. . .YOU JUST LYING YA ASS OFF. . .BECAUSE YOU JUST TOLD THE WORLD THAT WHAT YALL SAYING IS NOT TRUE BUT JUST A MEANS OF PRESSURE FOR THE BAHAMAS TO TRY TO MAKE US CHANGE!!!

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Cas0072 4 years, 5 months ago

It is poor judgement on their part to only look at one side of the issue even when, for example, the GBHRAs incendiary remarks were clearly pointed out. Even if the commission will not hear it, the fact that Smith and so called Haitian Bahamians contribute to increasingly heated dialogue is still a fact. It is absolutely an unfortunate deal if they are willing to only weigh one side of an issue as there are no perfect victim or villains. If they refuse to obtain a true understanding of the nature of the problem and consider the people with whom they align themselves, at the end of the day The Bahamas has to do what is best for the the country.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Some of us may not like it but we are on the WORLD stage. We are but one country in a very big world. The world has rules that we MUST comply with. If we don't behave they can apply sanctions to put pressure on us.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 5 months ago

I have made no case for any activist. I did not say anything wrong. I made an observation Which I am entitled to do in a free Country called the Bahamas. What I have said is like Sunday school language as compared to what Fred Smith and his group have said. and I repeat many Bahamian people have had their babies on the floor, the other illegals prevent any one from assisting her. because they wanted to cast a bad image on the Bahamas,

By the way a whole lot of illegals were picked up by Abaco . Women Men and children , and they just keep on coming even as Fred Smith tries to make the Bahamas and its people out to be such bad people. but the illegals are saints.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 5 months ago

Voitaire you Fred Smith, Daphane Campbell , Georges and Ally the one who spoke of the Columbian neck tie, all wish the Bahamas evil. but it will not happen , whom ever God keeps is well kept. and there is nothing not one of you can do about it. I am asking you is voo-doo a religion in Haiti or not. The Miami herald had a whole story on it and there was also a TV documentary .

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

LOl...I know you did not pull voodoo out of the bags. While I believe that the people you mentioned do not have no true allegiance to the Bahamas, I do believe that voodoo, like our Junkanoo festival, which originally had some supernatural influences, all originated from Africa. So I believe that voodoo should be considered an import aspect of Haiti's culture. Although the Haitian masses in their ignorance look at it as a means of doing evil, which in reality it cannot.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

The embracing your ancestors contributions and hoping for guidance in the new year is not praying for harm like the voodoo they love to claim they use against against us.

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

The murder rate is well over an acceptable level, a six year girl was found dead, a recent shoot out sent several young men to the hospital. All tragic news that should be major concerns for Bahamians right now. I have read comments from the few bloggers who are genuinely concerned about what happens in the Bahamas.

But what kind of new does it take to bring Voltaire out of hibernation? TALKS ABOUT ILLEGAL HATIANS, that's what. He could care less about any other issues that exist in the Bahamas. Anytime Volaire believes that the Haitian community has gotten a further choke on the Bahamas he and the other anti-Bahamians rejoice or gloat. Yep nothing gives Volataire a hard-on more than the pampering of ILLEGAL HAITIANS. I have read his comments over and over again and nothing, zip, blank about chastising those that sneak onto our shores to rape our country. When the Ally guy threatened Bahamians, no comments came from him or the other anti-Bahamians.

These people with Haitian blood would rise up against Bahamians in a minute if ever there was a riot between the two countries, namely the Bahamas and Haiti. Even Blind Blake can see that they have no loyalty for the Bahamas. No one condones the ill- treatment of anyone. I don't believe that anyone who writes on these pages will agree to that. So I am flabbergasted as to why people like DonAnthony, Voltaire and the other clowns would even allude to the fact that Fred Smith was victorious. No one wins here. All this does is shed a bad light on ALL Bahamians, including the closet Haitian-Bahamians. It further divides our society and leaves most Bahamians with a bad taste in their mouth. If anyone speaks bad about the Bahamas, then that person is speaking bad about me and every other right-thinking Bahamian. I am not trying to mute Fred Smith. What really gets to me is why does he have to try to showboat to the world at the expense of ALL Bahamians? There were other avenues to take. When is going to take his campaign to his birth place? If the wanna be seen Fred Smith thinks that Bahamians will look at him favorably for fighting his personal war with Fred Mitchel, then he better think again. When the FNM was in power, there were alleged mistreatment of illegal migrants. Not a word from this clown.

I refuse to sit back and allow the Haitian diaspora to pull the rug from under me. I work hard, I pay taxes, I abide by the laws of the Bahamas. So what makes any other person so special that the laws of the Bahamas should not be applied to them? What makes it worst is that the ungrateful bastards that complain the most are ILLEGALS, THEY DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO OUR COUNTRY and still wanna spit on us. Trust me, yall ain wan see a true Bahamian get mad for he tings. This so called meeting with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights would be like a walk in the park!

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Cas0072 4 years, 5 months ago

After reading your heartfelt comment, I feel almost ashamed for running on with the likes of DonAnthony and Voltaire. I truly believe that the deficiencies at the detention center, border control, etc., are all symbolic of the economic hard times that are being experienced in the wider Bahamas. It offends me that some people seem to believe that all discretionary resources should be aimed at providing comfort and support to illegal immigrants when poor and disenfranchised Bahamians are simply out of luck. Anyone who would rather see our country implode economically than engage in fair and necessary negotiation (meaning the give and take that we have come to), clearly has motives that are not in the best interest of this country. We are truly at a crossroads right now, especially in terms of our economy, crime, and what might be confirmation of cronyism within the government. On these issues, the silence from some quarters is indeed deafening, and that includes Fred Smith.

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Stapedius 4 years, 5 months ago

Good to see Bahamians standing up. We are being criticized from every side it seems. It is time for the intellectual community to challenge Fred Smith. This is no personal war between he and the minister. We as Bahamians must challenge these assertions and do so with evidence. He always finds himself in these contentious positions and is crying victim all the time.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Emac is right, there are no winners here. We are all losers because of this situation. It is regrettable that this matter has got to this stage.

We must take the emotion out of this, and look at it on the facts, and how we resolve this vexing problem, now and going forward, based on a sensible assessment of what we can and can't do, both internally and internationally.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrade Economist, I don't recall even one instance where Bahamalanders stood on the beaches and on our docks and at airports, shouting for all Haitians to be turned away. In fact. I can't recall of a single case where Bahamalanders have ever told all Haitian nationals, that they have been singled-out to be classified as undesirables. Do you? I do not recall of a single Bahamalander ever dishonuoring Haiti's national flag. Do you? I can only recall turning in to but one talk radio radio station, where 2 1/2 hours over 5 days every week, were spent preaching a message of division between the Haitian community and Bahamalanders. A radio show not only never supported by Bahamalanders> In fact it was their vocal opposition that eventually forced it off the airwaves. Comrade Economist, this is not some game, it's our nation we are talking about and we will never buckle under, to those preaching division. We are a patient, loving and generous people. But also too damn proud a people, not to protect our own homeland.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Tal, No one is suggesting that we don't protect our homeland. Indeed, we need to protect it more than ever. But if we don't handle this correctly, we can do ourselves more harm than good.

The DR, for all its efforts, only repatriated 10% of the illegals. It ran afoul of the same IACHR in the 1990's.

I assume that we want to be able to do more than that. So let's set about it in a well planned manner. We can see that this shoot from the hip approach brings us attention that we don't need. Let's do this in a way that allows us to achieve our goal and at the same time comply with what is expected of us on the world stage. I know that we can do it.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrade Economist, the first part is true. The second part is not.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 5 months ago

Yes, nothing wrong with being decent and orderly

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 5 months ago

The picture attached to this story reminds me of how we continue to place UNQUALIFIED people in key positions for purely political reasons. We then spend triple their salary to bring in real talentwhen the unqualified puppets actually have to do work.

There's a story in Saturdays guardian where Mr Pintard alleges that Alfred Grey in some way influenced a local island administrator to grant bail to a suspect. Alfred Grey of course denies the accusations and says all he did was ~"inform the administrator, who was acting as a magistrate, that since the young man filed n appeal, he could be granted bail".if this is true, my question is, why does Mr Gray have to "school" the administrator on such a basic tenant of the law? If the island administrator is ignorant of the law, why has he been given the power to sentence people to prison?

Back to the story at hand, what good is Mr Rahming doing looking totally disinterested and uninformed before the ENTIRE WORLD? What does it say about the Bahamas that he needs "help" to respond to Louby Georges and Fred Smith. PGC has us looking like a nation of buffoons. We have gray hip men signing off on billions of dollars who openly admit they know nothing about common business practices. Explaining their continuous and million dollar foul ups as "teachable moments". Does he really need to surround himself with all these dummies and cluck ups to feel comfortable?

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

Are you talking about the lazy, sleepy eyed walrus?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 5 months ago

Well I wouldn't attack his look outright, it's substance that bothers me. I am so tired of dummies be elevated to key positions. Not that he's a dummy, but wouldn't it be nice if someone of the caliber of Damian Gomez WAS the representative and not just the bused in brain?

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

I think he showed the appropriate emotion the entire time. I think Gomez used the correct tone but the talking points needed to first present the broader view and especially make it clear that undocumented Haitians make up 80% of illegal migrants. Secondly , hammer their nonsense explaining the untruths. The children were taking to a separate shelter a day later, were they intermingled with strange adults at any point? Most importantly, use the opportunity to announce efforts to gain answers from Haitian embassies on their birth abroad registration.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 5 months ago

My problem is that Gomez had to be called in AT ALL to defend our position. Our representative should have been appointed on the basis that he was suited to represent us on issues of import in the area of International Relations. But we are so used to name recognition as a qualification it doesn't earn a blip on the radar. I am encouraged that the US gave us the cold shoulder regarding his appointment as US ambassador to shine a light on his unsuitability, even if they found this fallback position for him to excel at underperforming in. Why is Alfred Grey minister of agriculture? Why is Bernard Nottage minister of national security? Why is Perry Christie minister of finance? Why is Brave Davis minister of works? Why is Kenred Dorset minister of the environment? What qualifies them? Why is Ms Reckley head of UR in Grand Bahama? What makes us think they can EXCEL in those KEY positions, certainly not experience, each has served up one cluck up after the next.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

oh yeh, ex beater responding to abuse claims. not a good look.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 5 months ago

"Tenet of the law" not "tenant", the law doesn't have apartments... Not that I know of anyway.

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freethinker 4 years, 5 months ago

These people seems so concerned about human rights, why they dont chastise the Haitian government when hundreds of Haitian nationals are killed at sea trying to get to the Bahamas.The Haitian government can pass legislation that will prosecute all Haitians deported back to Haiti becuse they unlawfully left thier home country to enter another illegally. So the problem starts with the point of origin Haiti, fix it there are we won't have to be harassed by these human rights advocates

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

It really a Haitian problem, as in the location, not because if nationality but because they have the highest population so of course. Looking at the source of the problem is how things get fixed. It's disproportionate impact.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Tat is like saying that if you fix the economy in the rest of the world then there would be no recessions and people would have lots of money and then The Bahamas would have lots of investment and everything would be good here.

It doesn't work that way so we are stuck with this problem and the International Conventions and organizations that we so eagerly joined after independence.

We can't escape the fact that independence comes at a price and responsibility. We did not protect our boarders and we did not return the illegals when we let them in. Now we are paying for being slack and not taking independence seriously.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

" if you fix the economy in the rest of the world then there would be no recessions and people would have lots of money and then The Bahamas would have lots of investment and everything would be good here.

It doesn't work that way"

Are you sure you're an economist? Macro? You do know the opposite is what caused the world recession, therefore a good economy was because of a good global market. Or did you vote PLP like the rest who were made to believe the recession never happened..

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SP 4 years, 5 months ago

Talking and further discussions will get us nowhere.

Bahamas needs stop trying to reinvent the wheel on this issue and simply follow the Dominicans.

In this regard, as the majority of Haitians have shown unquestionable blatant disrespect for every aspect of Bahamas law, and persist with escalating, relentless illegal migration, they are correctly perceived as committing acts of aggression against the sovereignty of Bahamas and must now be classified as a threat to national security.

Haitians by their actions, have therefore rendered themselves "persona non grata" as a nationality.

Dominican Republic's precedence gets to the "root" of the matter on dealing with Haitian invaders and is the only REAL SOLUTION to the problem that will work.

40 years of talk has proven fruitless. Time for Bahamas to respond appropriately and decisively to a sever problem.

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 5 months ago

What you mean as we chase them through the bush some politician ,political general ,immigration mucky mucky is pushing out 50 more 'farm laborer permits ' for their indentured servants ,,slaves

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrade “Well Endowed” Advocates for not protecting Bahamaland's borders and for not enforcing our immigration laws against those already here. Meet the uninvited guest that arrives at your home but may never leave. But while you're here can't you at least live by our rules?
This is why I do not encourage uninvited out of town guests to come stay with no real idea when they plan on leaving.
You call the authorities but they refuse to get involved out fear of international media criticisms.
Next thing you know is some pricey “King’s Counsel” Lawyer, volunteered his legal services and deep pockets, to not only represent your guest from being evicted but is asking the judge to order that their name be included on your damn land papers.
Comrades for the sake of the nation, I only wish I was making this up!

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="None">

by TalRussell

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

SP - there are over 1,500,000 Haitians (illegal, born in DR of Haitian parents and born in DR with one parent Haitian). They represent about 15% of the population.

Don't think that they solved anything as they too ran into the IACHR when they tried doing mass deportations a few years back.

We just have to get on a deal with this problem in a proper fashion.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrades, until we have the determination to immediately take the following important homeland protectionist steps , we are all wasting away our damn Bahamaland.
We remove one time and forever, the open borders advocates ability to use little children as powerful tools, for not departing both their parents and taking their children with them.
We place a minimum 3 year period any work permit holder, be allowed to remain in country, even if they marry a Bahamalander, or make or born Bahamaland babies.
You must wait a minimum of 10 years with minimum residence requirements, before you can apply for permanent residency.
Then, you must wait an addition 3 years before before you can apply for citizenship.
Born here to illegal parents, you will NOT be given automatic right to "apply" for citizenship.
No non-Bahamalander be allowed to purchase any residence that is not appraised at (10) times the cost of a middle-class homeowners residence.

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 5 months ago

This is total BS. We have been selling work permits for years ,from old man Stubbs under the bridge to a certain janitorial company that gets all the permits they want ,,Every political general has at least 10 farm laborer permits that are passed down from generation to generation .Its a form of indentured servitude . Give me the right amount of $ and under PLP or FNM i will get permits for hatians ,,,then they have to kick back ,,Everyone wants to get rid of the Hatians except for the permits they hold ,as we are chasing them through the bush some one at immigration is selling 5 more work permits for farm laborers out the back door ,,What f###king hypocrites we are ..

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

It seems that many of us do not understand that "independence" does not give the country the right to do whatever it likes. 1. As an independent nation it is our duty to protect our own boarders. We failed to do this. The result is clear. 2. As an independent nation we joined the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Each of those memberships came with duties as well, including "Human Rights". The result is that we can't do as we like with out considering the universal rights that we signed on to...soooo... we can't just round up people and deport them....that's an international no no!

So let's all recognize what we are faced with. eg. you can't up the price of a property on the grounds of nationality as that is also a no..no...and so it goes on.

Let's stop wasting time and get serious, and do what we can within the confines of recognized international norms.

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Stapedius 4 years, 5 months ago

Very true Economist we do have obligations that we must meet. The challenge is these things are often double edged. The US who's doorstep we sit on is concerned about trafficking and terrorism. There have been numerous reports naming the Bahamas as a transhipment hub for human trafficking. Yet the moment we address the issue of illegal immigration which is a component of this smuggling ring we are called all sorts of names.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrades, the IACHR wants all Haitians to be free to travel, get married, born babies, go to government schools, receive free medical care, work, vote, open a bank account, own property and be recognized as a citizen, but in Bahamaland, not Haiti.They say we are turning Haitians into "stateless" people but they are NOT stateless. They are citizens of Haiti and can freely travel by obtaining a Haitian passport anytime, as long as they pay the US dollars cash to the Haitian government, for passport fees.

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

That pretty much sums it up!

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

No Tal, they want us to follow the "Rule of Law" and abide by the international conventions that we signed on to. If we plug the inflow of illegals and then follow due process of law to deport thousands they will be perfectly happy.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

The OAS's IHCR did not say due process is being violated. They didn't fully accept your accusation that Mitchell's way is against the law. Stop it. If you feel you've been wrongly deported , call a lawyer and skype from the embassy. The policy (which doesn't need to be a law and should be policy in order to remain flexible incase of an event) was simply get your homeland ID. The last result was then detention for processing or deportation, where there is contact for lawyers from inside.

If it weren't due the maximum detain time policy of their's , Mitchell wouldn't have to put immigration on the streets because Papa wouldn't have had to let the earthquake refugees out. Different circumstances call for different measures. Y'all think anyone is pro detention? Only the states, who sent them back just a year after the earthquake amazingly.

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

Ask Economist what is his solution to the problem.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrade Emac, it's not for me be calling Economics a deliberate liar or anything like that, its just my opinion that he's being intentionally intellectually dishonest. My only question is, does he or does he not already knows what he really knows to be the illegal immigration truth and the economic harm it brings to taxpayers who didn't signup to volunteer for this done grown out of control abuse of our nation's legal, monetary, health, social services, justice, prison, detention and educational systems?

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Emac 4 years, 5 months ago

Tal, Economist has already given the solution. The following is what he wrote:

"I would consider granting citizenship to those who have been here over twenty years and are making a valuable contribution to our society. Thirdly, I would consider granting residence, with the right to work in the business for which they are trained or skilled to those who had been here for over fifteen years and can show a connection with the country (Bahamian wife or husband with or without children). For those who have lived here for over ten years I would consider granting a work permit. Again they would also have to show a connection with the country (husband /wife)."

But I and most Bahamians stand by one simple policy-If you came here illegally you should get NOTHING. You should be DEPORTED! It does not matter how long you were able to evade deportation. If all illegal Haitians were regulated in the Bahamas, then DonAnthony, Economist, DEDDIE and Voltaire would all come together to have one big celebration party.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Government already doing the residency with this Belonger thing.

But until they stop the inflow at the boarders, which they can do and have always had the ability to do, we will just get more Belongers.

By the way, I look forward to our discussions on WTO after The Bahamas joins.

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guyfawkes 4 years, 5 months ago

What is so sad about the commentary on this page is the fact that some many people are always willing to forget facts as they persue their own agendas. Fact, the government flat out denied any abuse of illegal immigrants, we know this to be untruth. How can you claim no abuse of illegal immigrants occurs when, you have five marines facing charges of beating Cuban detainees and an Immigration Officer being charged for rape. Of course, no one believes that the government sanctions abuse, but at least man up and admit when mistakes are made. As for Fred Smith and crew, this non-sense that there is a local methods of dealing with this issue are false, they were blatantly told by the Minister of Immigration that he would not sit down and talk to them. If Mr. Mitchell does not want to talk to them locally, then he has invited them to take their fight to the International Agencies.

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TalRussell 4 years, 5 months ago

Comrade GuyFawks, before I cut off and burn your genitals at da stakes, like they did with your namesake, it would be good to know if the delegation who were refused a meeting with the minister, have received funds, directly or indirectly, from IACHR, or have applied to receive funds?

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guyfawkes 4 years, 5 months ago

Stoke my genitals all you want Tal, i know you want to anyway. Its does not matter if any delegation receives funds, I am sure our Minister certainly receives my funds. In fact, he may be travelling right now with said funds. We don't pay Fred Smith, we pay Minister Mitchell and he should be accountable to any citizen at any given time. Minister Mitchell started a war and now wants to go mid battle and try to ask the person not to call in reinforcements.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

There are persons on both sides of this debate that ignore facts, including you, so give that a rest please. The only proven claims are related to the conditions at detention center. But like we know of conditions at Fox Hill, nothing was done. Fred Smith claims are not being ignored. Every legitimate claim he has made has been denied, disputed, is being investigated or in the case of the rapist, a criminal prosecution is taking place. Don't be an alarmist and take isolated instances as the norm, it is not, and most common sense individuals accept this fact. Also, there has been an almost daily exchange between the GBHRA, and others on this subject. This man is not being ignored, although he should be. His requests on how illegal or possible illegal should be handled is ridiculous. There are some things that the government should absolutely not entertain, such as providing legal representation for every potential illegal immigrant that comes to our shores. I would prefer that money be spent to improve our other criminal detention center. He is a just a loudmouth who is overlooking the fact that at the end of the day, the people he claims to be fighting for are the ones who will benefit. Bahamians will not benefit from thousands being placed into an already tight job market, or from the watering down of our culture and heritage to accommodate illegals and the so-called "belongers". Fred Smith needs to get a grip. But his real intention to encourage as much illegal immigration as he could into the country by placing an unrealistic cost to the repatriation process.

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guyfawkes 4 years, 5 months ago

Why are they complete lunatice ramblings and if so, why has the minister simply not meet with the group and put all this to rest. The Minister is a servant of the people and therefore should go about the people's business. He has presented himself as spoilt brat because someone dares to have an opposing view on his immigration policy.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 5 months ago

Comparing the Bahamas to Nazi Germany, operating a concentration camp - sounds like lunatic ramblings to me. His concerns are being addressed by the government, why does it have to be Mitchell personally? This is not a personal war between the men. It would be offensive if our highest ranking immigration official took the time to meet with an individual who is bent on destroying the reputation of the country.

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Economist 4 years, 5 months ago

Something else to think about.

The IHCHR does not listen to every complaint that it gets. It only listens when it feels there is credible evidence. We must remember that a report that government commissioned (a former Court of Appeal judge was one of its members) did not give us a clean slate.

Mr. Mitchel should not take Mr. Smith's work personally. Mr. Mitchell spent a considerable amount of time in the late eighties to make sure that Bahamians knew the Constitution and the also understands the Human Rights issue.

I think he is playing politics by trying to show that he is strong and looking out for Bahamians when all the time he is creating a Belonger Status which will benefit tens of thousands of immigrants.

He knows that The Bahamas can't do what it is currently doing. He is probably banking on the external pressure to force him to change the law. Then he can say to the people "I tried to kick them out but you can see I was prevented from doing so."

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banker 4 years, 5 months ago

Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 5 months ago

If you are an Bahamian illegal immigrant in USA .................. what will happen to you???? Do you get a nice job, free education, health care, housing and social welfare????? Remember the Latino children at the US Southern border??????????? Come on Amnesty and the other HR groups...................... whats the beef????????

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SP 4 years, 5 months ago

.... Dominican Republic Set Precedence.....Bahamas Just needs to follow their lead .....

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/article...">http://www.bloomberg.com/news/article...

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 5 months ago

Fred needs to just prove there's no abuse ( which it's always harder to prove that something doesn't happen, easier to prove if it does). That they prevent it and that they do not condone verbal degrading and verbal assault is not tolerated.

Show that logs are kept for needs. Show how many meals are given per day, how many clean towels are stocked after they're washed, how many bodies to a bed, that a fumigator is brought in. Continue allowing phones. Detail the check in process and information requested upon arrival.

Stream live cams of public corridors of the place, human rights can watch all day. Have a documentary. When emergency shelters are opened up what are their accommodations? Meager.

Hope Human Rights checks the moldy schools, jails, and hospital wait rooms with "rats" whilst here. http://youtu.be/8Y67BnfTc8U" rel="nofollow">http://youtu.be/8Y67BnfTc8U

And if it is rat infested, pls make sure to get good pics for the billboard ads in Haiti warning people to stay home.

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