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Activists Demand Halt To Migrant Crackdown

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

RIGHTS Bahamas yesterday urged the government to cease and desist its heightened immigration crackdown, pointing to an incident where a mother and child reportedly fell off the back of a truck and were hurt as they tried to evade authorities.

Images of a young child with facial injuries in the arms of a woman purported to be her mother were circulated on social media Tuesday night, but have not been confirmed by relatives or law enforcement.

The photo was purported to have been taken in Andros, according to Rights Bahamas (RB), which claimed eye witnesses saw when an Immigration Department vehicle carrying armed officers in military fatigues began chasing a civilian pickup truck carrying several individuals in the rear bed.

The human rights advocacy group reported the mother and child sustained injuries when they fell from the truck bed as the frightened driver sought to escape an “aggressive immigration apprehension exercise.”

RB alleges that the pair were treated at a clinic and detained.

However, Immigration Director William Pratt, as well as the department’s Family Island head, yesterday said they had not received any report of such an incident.

A press statement from RB read: “These images highlight just one of several violent incidents and human rights abuses that have been reported to activists as a result of the state’s illegal immigration crackdown and unconstitutional deadline of December 31 for all undocumented migrants to leave the country.

“This behaviour on the part of the immigration officers was totally illegal,” the rights group claimed, as immigration “sought to curtail the constitutional right to freedom of movement of the occupants of the vehicle, without a legal warrant and without any probable cause.

“Frightened by the aggressive and illegal action of the officers, the driver sought to escape, resulting in a mother and her young child falling from the truck and sustaining injuries, the severities of which remain unknown. They were taken to a local clinic where, according to witnesses, they were detained by the Immigration officers.”

RB claimed: “The child, having been born in the Bahamas, has a constitutional right to be registered as a citizen upon her 18th birthday. Her detention and eventual deportation therefore represents a gross violation of her constitutional rights.”

The group recalled the shooting of suspected undocumented migrant Jean Marie Justilien, who was shot during an immigration round up in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, on June 9, 2015. A medical report revealed the bullet entered at the back of Justilien’s neck and exited his left cheek.

Justilien filed a writ against the government seeking $500,000 in damages for the shooting and breaches to his constitutional rights. He was represented by RB president, attorney Frederick Smith, QC, and Adrian Gibson, now Long Island MP.

RB wrote: “[Justilien] likewise fled in fear when armed and aggressive immigration officers chased him. He was later summarily deported without due process, in time for the state to avoid facing a hearing on the shooting.

“Over the last three years, the Bahamas Immigration Department has become increasingly violent and intimidating in their enforcement exercises, employing nighttime raids and roadblocks which the Supreme Court of the Bahamas has declared unconstitutional,” RB claimed.

The press statement continued: “Rights Bahamas once again urges the state, in the strongest possible terms, to cease and desist from this reckless and dangerous course before any further human rights violations take place.

“We also call upon the state to release all minors who have a right to be registered as citizens of the Bahamas, along with their legal guardians, until a human and legal solution to their situation can be found.”

Comments

TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 5 days ago

The only reason i can imagine that Fred Smith is not in an insane asylum is that there exists none willing to accept him as a patient due to extremely poor prognosis.

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sealice 2 weeks, 5 days ago

everything that immigration does is supposedly illegal and the people that are here are here illegally - why not go feel sorry for something that supposed to be here?

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Comrade members the Dominican Republic security forces have detained more than 100 undocumented Haitians, including pregnant women and children during several exercises over a 72 hour period. The Dominican Army had apprehended 108 undocumented Haitians, including 16 minors and 15 pregnant women.Some of the women were reported as saying that they had intended to give birth in hospitals in the Dominican Republic because in Haiti in addition to the limitations of access to health care, they have to pay for maternity services.

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bogart 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Tribune Friday,17, Nov. Article on Hatbouring Illegals the ImmigrationAcr revised 5th May,2015 points out that anyone guilty of harbouring an illegal may be fined/10,000 or/and go to jail for 5 years. Disappointed that despite 210 illegals rounded up a few Frifays ago and no one charged under this Act. This is serious lost money not being collested and raises the question if anyone has ever been charged since 5.5.2015 ???

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My2cents 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Clearly the mother and other adults put the child in danger, not the immigration officials. They should be charged with resisting arrest and child endangerment, and not paraded as victims. RB is again showing how much (dis)respect they have for the law.

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SP 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Get these damn illegal Haitian parasites O-U-T before they breed Bahamians out of existence!

Send every illegal Haitian back to the cesspool they are so proud of. Their anchor babies have no "right" to remain in the Bahamas until age 18.

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Jrusssell19 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Why dont these Haitian activist go to Haiti and march for civil rights for the Haitians so that they can have a better place to live. Leave our Officers alone and let them do their job of dealing with illegal immigration and protecting our country. Where are the rights for us Bahamians?

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OMG 2 weeks, 2 days ago

So I guess the immigration officers must shout "please stop Mr Hatien" and then let them go if they run away. Difficult job to exercise compassion whilst dealing with potential law breakers.

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John 2 weeks, 2 days ago

"

RIGHTS Bahamas yesterday urged the government to cease and desist its heightened immigration crackdown, pointing to an incident where a mother and child reportedly fell off the back of a truck and were hurt as they tried to evade authorities."*

Emphasis

*Buy his own admission Fred Smith's mother was jailed in Haiti for being too vocal against the government (anti-government) and his pa was kicked out of Haiti and deported to the Bahamas under similar circumstances. And apparently the insanity continues. How can you justify the actions of someone who is injured or causes others to be injured in an attempt to flee from justice and intention to become a fugitive of justice? Are you saying the police should not have the right to shoot an armed and fleeing robber who is shooting at them?

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Dawes 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Whilst at times Immigration is over the top, RB is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. If the illegal driver had not tried to evade immigration this would not have occurred (if the illegal was not here it would not have occurred). The fault lies at the feet of this child's mother and the driver. To try to stop immigration from doing their jobs by using this example is sad and makes it harder for those who have legitimate grievances with immigration. And finally the idea that they shouldn't deport the child as at 18 they can apply for citizenship is also wrong. Of course they can deport her, and when she reaches 18 she can then apply from wherever she is. If RB wants her to stay here without her mother then Fred needs to pay for her schooling, housing and all other expenses she may incur.

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 2 days ago

What a bunch of hateful racial posts. I now see how Adolph and his National Socialists gained power by catering to the baser human traits like those expressed here. The Immigration officers should be tried in the courts for manslaughter. Bullies relishing their power.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 2 days ago

There was no deaths. How is that Manslaughter? If there was a death the driver of the truck is the one who would be tried for it. I am all for immigration as long as it is legal and benefits the country. I do not agree with illegal immigration and believe Government needs to ensure those who are illegal are sent back to wherever they came from. However this needs to be done in a legal and humane way.

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 2 days ago

If the deceased died because of the actions of the immigration officer then there is a case to answered. The courts are a little more independent and therefore more suited than the department itself to decide if his actions were a major contributory cause in this unfortunate incident.

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Dawes 2 weeks, 1 day ago

There was no death though. There was a shooting which should not have happened and i agree there should have been an investigation, however there was no death.

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My2cents 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Your thought process is illogical and offensive. Your basic instinct implies that Haitians cannot decipher right from wrong and therefore, should not be held accountable for breaking multiple laws. You clearly think even less of them than the alleged "racists".

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