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Bahamas Born - But Five Flown To Haiti

The Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

RIGHTS Bahamas (RB) yesterday condemned the deportation of people born in The Bahamas and reiterated its call for the Department of Immigration to end the practice.

A deportation list for November 24 was filed by the department in habeas corpus application hearings in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and it revealed at least five people born in The Bahamas had been deported last month.

Three of those people on the list were children, the youngest of whom was just three days old at the time of his or her deportation while the others are both two years old.

One person on the list was a woman born in 1971 and RB has said she may have been a Bahamian citizen because most people living in the country were automatically regularised when the country gained independence in 1973.

“The most concerning aspect of this travesty is that the November 24 list represented a routine deportation exercise,” RB noted. “Literally hundreds of Bahamian-born individuals with the constitutional right to be registered as citizens may have been expelled over the years.

“Rights Bahamas calls upon the government to rein in this lawless and dangerous department immediately, before anyone else is wrongfully deported. We also call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to do all it can to find these lost souls in Haiti and bring them home again.

“Coming after the explicit statement by Immigration Minister Brent Symonette that The Bahamas should not be deporting people born in the country, and the sustained outcry from the international human rights community, this revelation is further confirmation that the Immigration Department is a rogue entity which consistently operates as if it is above the law.”

The applications for habeas corpus writs were filed in the Supreme Court against the attorney general, minister of immigration, director of immigration and superintendent of the CRDC

The government will have to prove the lawfulness of the detention in 13 separate cases before Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton in late January.

Among those is the high-profile habeas corpus case of Jean Rony Jean-Charles.

Director of Immigration William Pratt confirmed to The Tribune that Mr Jean-Charles, who relatives said was born and raised in the Bahamas to Haitian parents, had been flown to Haiti.

Mr Pratt said Mr Jean-Charles was sent to Port au Prince, Haiti on November 24 after not being able to prove he was in the country legally.

Asked to respond, Immigration Minister Brent Symonette said people who are born in the Bahamas to undocumented foreign parents are “not usually” deported, adding he would be “disappointed” if this practice was being carried out.

Mr Symonette, however, stressed that under Bahamian law if a person is born in the Bahamas to parents who are not legal residents they would not qualify for automatic citizenship but rather have the right to apply to receive it at age 18.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court gave the government an additional 21 days to produce Mr Jean-Charles and provide evidence justifying his deportation or be held in contempt of court.

That morning the Department of Immigration deported 114 irregular Haitian migrants on Bahamasair, according to Enforcement Unit chief Kirklyn Neely, who told The Nassau Guardian the trip cost taxpayers $40,000.

Comments

bogart 1 year, 6 months ago

The govt really ought to place full page ads in the papers of the respective laws concerning the immediate issues. It is time they put a stop to every tom, dick and harry from publictly stating what their version of the laws are and causing needless instability and confusion.

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stillwaters 1 year, 6 months ago

And they need to take a stand. Either you're doing this or you're not, but straddling the fence is not an option now for Brent. Put them on the planes and STOP being apologetic about it. Hell!!!!!!Stop sounding so damn weak!!!!

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Economist 1 year, 6 months ago

How do you know that they are illegal if they have not been taken to court and declared illegal? So when did you become the judge and jury?

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My2centz 1 year, 6 months ago

What Rights Bahamas is failing to mention is that 3 of the 5 are minors who were deported along with their parents. The law is clear they can apply at 18. It does not exonerate their parents of their crime or a means to regularise them.

Also why are they quoting Symonette's personal feelings on deporting persons allegedly born in the Bahamas? For a group so concerned about maintaining the integrity of the constitution they have to his personal feelings does not constitute law.

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CatIslandBoy 1 year, 6 months ago

While I don't support illegal immigration, and will never hire an illegal immigrant to work in any of my various enterprises, I am still in support of Human Rights, and the upholding the laws of our country. Despite our anti-immigrant sentiments, we must strictly enforce our laws, as they are currently written, and not how we would have liked them to be. The Bahamas does not exist in a vacuum, but is a signatory to numerous UN conventions, and must live up to the humanitarian obligations imposed by such Conventions. Removing Director Pratt is a good first step, however, replacing him with Clarence Russell from Passport is repeating the same mistakes of the past. Mr. Russell, while formerly a decent police officer, does not have a clue on how to take Immigration Department in another direction.

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jamaicaproud 1 year, 6 months ago

I respect you boss. Yah man. Law and order, but humanely and not by malice.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 6 months ago

Ive always said let's trade countries. Bring ALL Haitians to the Bahamas in exchange for them giving us their country. ALL Haitians must leave Haiti and all Bahamians go there.

It would be a great deal for Bahamians. Would save us a ton of money on repetitive govt offices on every island, shipping and travel costs and provide us with lots of farmland.

Let's do it. In less than 5 years Haiti would be one of the jewels of the Caribbean and our immigration officers would spend their time deporting "Bahamians" and D.R. people.

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jamaicaproud 1 year, 6 months ago

The land is barren and spent. Even if it were not, still a bad deal. Haiti's problem is not location but administration. These desperate people want to live under any government but their own.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 6 months ago

Our administration would be there. Theirs would be here.

I mean a TOTAL swap of persons. Not one single Haitan left there and not one single Bahamian left here.

Let's do it. Draw up the treaty. Let's sign at end of January.

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John2 1 year, 6 months ago

No right thinking Bahamian would agree to a move like you suggested even if its mandatary or because of some god forbid natural catastrophic event to our islands. I know its just a hypothetical suggestion to prove a point but the natural inclination for Bahamians would still be to go North.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 6 months ago

My only point is that the land of Haiti has many more advantages than we have. It is just not being used properly. Instead of making progress, they are making babies. They have a surplus now that needs to be exported to make room for more.

An incredible wasted opportunity.

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