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Right Bahamas 'Would Challenge Proposed Immigration Act Changes'

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

NEWLY appointed Rights Bahamas President Stephanie St Fleur yesterday vowed the organisation would immediately bring legal challenge to proposed changes to the Immigration Act clearing the path for mass deportations without court orders.

Ms St Fleur questioned whether the amendments and supplementary legislation outlined by Attorney General Carl Bethel in the Senate on Monday was a publicity stunt.

"Mr Bethel must realise that what he proposes violates certain fundamental rights and privileges enshrined in the Bahamas Constitution," she said, "namely the right to due process, the right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary detention, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

"The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. This means no one has the right to declare that an individual has violated the Immigration Act except a court of law.

"Perhaps this is nothing more than a public relations stunt on the part of a government that is seemingly so anxious about boosting its popularity that it will pander to the most intolerant and discriminatory segments of society.

"Surely Mr Bethel realises that Rights Bahamas will aggressively fight this in the courts, applying for an immediate injunction, judicial review and constitutional challenge to any such proposed changes to the law."

In the Senate Mr Bethel revealed the government's intention to strengthen the detention powers of the Department of Immigration and "make it clear" the minister of immigration has the right to order the deportation of "illegal aliens" without first obtaining a court order.

Mr Bethel told the Senate his office was also working on a supplementary bill to the Immigration Act called The Unlawful Maritime Entry Bill; which would allow immigration officers to execute mass deportations without a mandatory court order for apprehensions at sea.

In a statement yesterday, Ms St Fleur accused Mr Bethel of following the "playbook" of former Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell.

She warned Mr Bethel and the Free National Movement administration to take heed of the consequences wrought by the electorate concerning Mr Mitchell and his defence of "dictatorial policies".

The proposed changes will also have deleterious impact on the country's bid to secure a seat on the United Nations' Human Rights Council, she claimed.

"International human rights groups and organisations such as the UN and the OAS will be appalled to learn of what Mr Bethel and his colleagues purportedly intend and will make their voices heard around the world," she said.

"The FNM should take heed of this example and realise that they were elected by a wave of progressive and enlightened opinion that is fast becoming disillusioned.

"They should act accordingly by shedding their defence of repressive, undemocratic and discriminatory ideas and finding solutions that recognise everyone's basic humanity and equality under the law."

Comments

birdiestrachan 1 year, 7 months ago

it seems as if this individual is threating the Government. Because they have put this Government in power. and what about undisclosed donations.?? Is the FNM Government afraid Yet??

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joeblow 1 year, 7 months ago

Does this woman even have a functional brain? If a foreign national is in this country and unable to prove they entered the country legally then by default they MUST be an illegal immigrant and are GUILTY of illegal entry. Full stop, end of story!

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Mrsjohnson 1 year, 7 months ago

Why are you attacking her personal intelligence? The fact of the matter is, if as you say “a foreign national...unable to prove they entered the country legally...MUST be an illegal immigrant and are GUILTY of illegal entry. Full stop, end of story”. Why has the courts continually ruled, the guilt of such a person can only be determined by a court of LAW.

Why do we keep confusing the matter at hand and what activists such as Ms. St. Fleur are fighting for. They’re are not avocatiing for open borders or for illegal immigrants to be allowed to remain in the country illegally. They’re asking for due process all. It’s a right according to our Constitution. The Constitution currently allows these protections anyone who happens to be in our Bahamaland.

What we must understand is the same due process illegal immigrants are being denied, we could find ourselves one day being denied.

“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Pastor Niemoller

The immigration debate is an important and emotional issue, nevertheless the less we should always be respectful. There’s no need for name calling or speaking down on each other. I hope your questioning Ms.St. Fleur’s intelligence has nothing to do with her Heritage or the the fact that she’s a woman.

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hodinkee 1 year, 7 months ago

It looks like the halfwits at the AGs office led by that genius Bethel haven’t learned their lesson...

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