0

Human Rights Concerns Raised For Immigrants And Prisoners

Carmichael Road Detention Centre

Carmichael Road Detention Centre

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE US State Department maintained its spotlight on inefficiencies in the country’s “extremely backlogged” judicial system, mistreatment of migrants, and perceptions of impunity held by enforcement officials in its 2015 Human Rights Practices report.

For more than a decade, the report has maintained criticisms over lengthy trials and pretrial detention, harsh prison conditions, violence against women and children and discrimination based on ethnic descent.

The report, released yesterday, read: “The most serious human rights problems were mistreatment of irregular migrants (compounded by problems in processing them); an inefficient judicial system, resulting in trial delays and an increase in retaliatory crime against both witnesses and alleged perpetrators; and the perception of impunity on the part of law enforcement and immigration officials accused of using excessive force.”

It continued: “Other human rights problems included substandard detention conditions; corruption; violence and discrimination against women; sexual abuse of children; and discrimination based on ethnic descent, sexual orientation, or HIV status.”

The report noted that the government had taken some action against police officers and other officials accused of abuse of power.

The prison and Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC) conditions failed to meet international standards in some areas, and overcrowding was again cited as a major problem that contributed to harsh conditions at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. The report noted that there was no independent authority to investigate credible allegations of inhumane conditions lodged by inmates and staff. It also pointed out that the government had made little progress in its case against five Royal Bahamas Defense Force (BDF) marines who in 2013 allegedly beat five Cuban detainees with batons and pipes at the CRDC. The report stated that the government’s response was that the case was still “before the courts”.

While the report acknowledged that the government generally respected the constitutional right for freedom of speech and press, it pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly threatened to revoke the permanent status of a critic of the government. The report furthered that civil rights groups reported the government used threats of prosecution in a way that had a “chilling effect” on free speech.

“In response to criticism of the government’s new immigration policy that took effect in November 2014,” the report read, “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded citizens that the Bahamas Nationality Act allows the minister for nationality to revoke citizenship from a person who ‘has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards The Bahamas’.

“In August, the ministry publicly threatened to revoke the permanent residency status of a critic of the government.”

It continued: “The government did not use libel or slander laws to silence critics but employed threats of prosecution in a way that civil rights groups reported had a chilling effect on free speech. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to criticism of the CRDC conditions by a civil rights organisation, called on the police commissioner to investigate the group for criminal libel.”

On the matter of the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and association, the report noted “credible” allegations made by civil rights groups protesting the government’s immigration enforcement policy. It was alleged that some government officials sought to constrain their freedom of speech and association rights by publicly labelling the groups as traitors and then refusing to conduct adequate investigations or provide police protection from threats.

The report is referring to the heated war-of-words between Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell with lawyer Fred Smith, QC, and the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association over its immigration policy.

On the matter of statelessness, the report stated that the government did not effectively implement laws and policies to provide certain habitual residents the opportunity to gain nationality in a timely manner and on a non-discriminatory basis. As of October, it stated, the government claimed it had approved 60 belonger permits but was unable to verify whether any had been issued.

The State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices cover internationally recognised individual, civil, political, and worker’s rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first report covered the year 1976.

Comments

GrassRoot 4 years, 1 month ago

"It is all a big fat lie, not true, we have things under control and to prove this, the Government will endeavor to bring in the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, to thoroughly investigate the allegations made to ensure that the integrity of the Bahamian government and judiciary will be reinstated and all in that report dismantled as an initiative by people trying to destabilize the Bahamian government." - Messrs. Mitchel and Fitzgerald, something like that?

0

TheMadHatter 4 years, 1 month ago

The JOKE of this report is this quote "For more than a decade, the report has maintained criticisms over lengthy trials and pretrial detention, harsh prison conditions, violence against women and children and discrimination based on ethnic descent."

IN OTHER WORDS - they have been issuing the same report (basically) for over ten years.

Obviously any Government will simply laugh at that. Basically say/think "There they go makin' noise again. So what? They ain't ga do nuttin."

And that's exactly what "they" do. The international community does NOTHING against the Bahamas - so why should the Bah Govt do anything to improve these human living conditions?

When Doctors-Without-Borders came to Abaco right after Hurricane Floyd (in 1999) to offer their assistance with the anticipated psychological stress such a natural disaster might have on the children of Abaco - they were turned away at the airport by immigration saying they did not have work permits. Some upright citizens came to the airport to help them enter, but were powerless against immigration authorities.

However, as a result of this - the group did not choose to change their name to "Doctors Without Borders Except the Bahamas." So once again- nothing was done. Most people probably never even heard of this incident.

So, in the end, the USA can issue all the "reports" they want. Talk is just talk. Maybe it helps them sleep better at night, knowing that they wrote a fancy report and published it in a few elite circles. Something to talk about at upscale cocktail parties. However, the prisoners are still sleeping on cement.

TheMadHatter

0

GrassRoot 4 years, 1 month ago

well yes and no, as it potentially also paves the way for charges under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, given the whole Bacon/Nygard mess

0

TheMadHatter 4 years, 1 month ago

That takes a long time.

There are a lots of things they could do that could take effect as quick as tomorrow.

0

birdiestrachan 4 years, 1 month ago

If they know all this why do they continue to turn over Cubans who are trying to enter the USA over to Bahamian Immigration. Why not take them to America. They must know that the Bahamas resourses are limited .Why not build for the Bahamas the proper building they will aprove of. They give millions to other Countries. what about "Black lives matter"??

0

TheMadHatter 4 years, 1 month ago

Look at the size of the church on the south side of carmichael road after you pass shell gas station going west - just before you get to the gladstone road intersection.

That thing is huge.

The money put into that could have expanded the prison - or that building itself could have been a minimum security wing on the prison.

BUT - obviously the "Christians" in that building had other plans.

They are not the only "Christians" to do that. There's lots of HUGE church buildings all over Nassau .... meanwhile ...

many "children of God" sleep on the cement floor, drink rusty water, and eat super salty food for dey pressure.

Is this what makes us a Christian nation?

Some say a nation can be judged by the way it treats the least among them. Well, brother, we are certainly being "judged" now.

TheMadHatter

0

birdiestrachan 4 years, 1 month ago

The above written by Ava is an oponion of the report.

0

GrassRoot 4 years, 1 month ago

we value your op-onion and op-bananas, too, Birdie.

0

SP 4 years, 1 month ago

Where are the "human rights" concern for the Bahamian stomped by police on the bridge?

How and why should we give a flying phuck about migrants rights when Bahamians can be stomped in the streets by our own police and no one raised as mush as an eyebrow?

Imagine the international outcry had a Haitian, Jamaican, Chinese, Latino or Asian had been stomped by police in the streets of Nassau!

0

TheMadHatter 4 years, 1 month ago

Child - you would still be hearing about it. If it had been a Haitian, they probably would have set fire to that bridge.

0

Sign in to comment