By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
HUMAN rights group Rights Bahamas will go back before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) next month to bring reports of abuses against migrants under the international spotlight.
It will be the second time the local group, in a joint request with the Washington-based Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, is granted a hearing before the independent human rights arm of the Organization of American States.
The hearing will take place in Kingston, Jamaica on May 10.
“The request,” noted an RB statement, “calls for an examination of the treatment of migrants in the Bahamas in light of the many reports of human rights abuses, illegal detention and deportation exercises, the implementation of racist and xenophobic policies, the targeting of persons of Haitian descent born in the Bahamas, denial of the right to school to children of migrants and the ongoing inhumane and unsanitary conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
“Also under scrutiny will be the government’s plan to forcibly and illegally evict residents and demolish homes in communities of predominantly Haitian descent.”
In its application, RB said it outlined the general anti-migrant sentiment, the harassment and discrimination that migrants and their descendants experience on an everyday basis, as well the practice of profiling people based on appearance, name, accent, etc and the illegal practice of demanding that individuals produce papers confirming their status.
The group further stated a special emphasis was placed on the November 2014 policy, and admissions by the government that it had deported at least five people to Haiti who were born in the Bahamas, and had a constitutional right to apply for citizenship.
“We understand that the government has also been invited to respond to the allegations of abuse and provide information on its efforts to reform the process of immigration enforcement,” the RB statement continued.
“The Minnis administration is reminded that the world will be watching as the hearings are broadcast live around the globe. It is our hope this hearing will mark the beginning of a process leading to the adoption of a more enlightened, humane and lawful immigration policy in the future.”
Rights Bahamas, formerly the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, had an audience before IACHR in 2015 in Washington, DC on matters concerning raids, deportations and the related due process; and allegations of physical and verbal abuse, among other issues. Government representatives also attended the hearing and called the allegations about its immigration policy—introduced by the Christie administration—”bizarre and outlandish”.