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Churches Warned - Don’T Set Up Unlawful Centres

Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson.

Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson.

By SYANN THOMPSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

sthompson@tribunemedia.net

MINISTER of Immigration Elsworth Johnson said yesterday any churches and facilities that are setting up additional shelters not sanctioned by the relevant government agencies are doing so illegally.

Mr Johnson told The Tribune the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act outlines the standards required in order for a church or any facility to become a shelter. His remarks came after Director of Immigration Clarence Russell told a media outlet that officials had discovered various church groups and others were harbouring undocumented immigrants in facilities not been designated as emergency shelters by the government.

“There is a legal regime established for the creation of shelters and there is a reason for that, to ensure that they are properly staffed, that the proper protection is provided for women and children and persons who find themselves in a vulnerable position,” said Mr Johnson.

“Under the Act, it makes provision to set up these shelters and the role of social services and all of the social welfare infrastructure and what they play. What we know is that some persons may have started to create shelters and if they are not created in accordance with the law then they shouldn’t happen, it is unlawful. If they have not been approved by the legal procedure, they should not be established.”

Beyond harbouring undocumented migrants, those circumventing the proper legal approach for establishing a shelter can also cause havoc in the management of these facilities and adhering to humanitarian norms, according to Mr Johnson.

“There are simple things like, buildings are designed for only so many people. When you look at what the minister of social services had to do at the sports centre and in Fox Hill, you had people who had to come and service these facilities, for the electricity, for the air condition all those different things and it is very important in following the law to set up these things. To the extent that members of the community are not approved to create a shelter, they should not do that, because it is only when things go wrong and the world responds or better still the community responds then we find it so,” he said.

After Hurricane Dorian in early September, scores of storm victims were displaced and sought shelter in various islands. Many of the victims were undocumented Haitian migrants from destroyed shanty towns in Abaco. The government place a reprieve on apprehension and deportation of storm victims in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, however such practices resumed a few weeks later, to the chagrin of local and international human rights activists.

To date, the Department of Immigration has conducted repatriations of several hundred Haitian immigrants.

The government has announced that shelters will be closed by the end of 2019.

Comments

bahamianson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Johnson, if you line up 10 Bahamians and ask them to list the amount of illegal activity going on in the Bahamas, you will not be surprised at their responses. Let's not be coy, this country reeks of corruption from top to bottom. Your words are like water falling off a bird's back.

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Sickened 6 months, 3 weeks ago

But churches pray on the vulnerable. Churches take you last penny so that you are vulnerable and will continue to come back!

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Ashinnabash 6 months, 3 weeks ago

NOBODY STANDING UP IN THE CHURCH WITH A GUN TELLING YOU TO GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY THAT'S STILL A CHOICE

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

No that's not how it's done. Certainly not how Pineapple Express got the people to hand over the "loot"

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joeblow 6 months, 3 weeks ago

@sickened... numbers houses take far more from the poor and oppressed and they don't give moral instruction in return!

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

He has difficulties in backing up what he says in official capacities remember like Quieting Titles of land which still have notices going on. He is only saying about illegals sheltering in Churches but we all know there will never have his authorities enter into any church to apprehend anyone and will blame the lawful people, for the outcome. THE illegal trafficking for decades existed and grew by authorities not carrying out the law of illegal construction of shantytowns, not stopping heavy tinted church transportation vehicles, arresting employers hiring illegals, harbouring illegals, , catching boat captaing of illegal trafficking boats, arrest the Haitian Embassy officials instead of then going back to Haiti on the fake fraud marriages. or the one talking about Bahamian law and former judge had to publictly chastise him etc. ,having meetings in Haiti on illegal migration,etcetc And this time of the year the annual Junkanoo season where everybody rushing in Bay St and the illegal migrant sloops land at South Beach and at best some authorities manage to be running through in the bushes after them.

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Hoda 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Well Quieting title is a process allowed by the Quieting Titles Act, which will have to repealed by parliament. So Ellsworth Johnson himself cannot do away with that.

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Tribune article. Thursday, September 15, 2016 titled "Bar Chief: Land Reform Thwarted by Society's Elite ". The then Bar Association in very candid points pointed out many points relating to this Act and the public etc. and said that he was "speaking for himself and not the Bar." Well today as he in an Executive position in Parliament we await his efforts.

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Hoda 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope he does. Land Reform or a registered land system will see every square foot of this country surveyed, the owners identified, every charge, mortgage and or debt attached to the land will have to be identified and listed as a matter of public record. It will be a wonderful thing!

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TalRussell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, no. even before this stern church's lecture, Comrade Elsewhere had done publicly lectured members PopulacesOrdinary about how not be taking their Christmas dollars be shopping in Miami but still this minister's performances is pale when compared to the red shirts MP clowns circus acts which circled around the colony's embattled prime minister which occurred at Wednesday's House floor where:
The Best Suck Up Ya Boss man's play aromatics with wording for hypocrisy became evident over the many hours the red shirts MP's speeches put on for the PopoulacesOrdinarey's viewing and listening entertainment during Wednesday's pre confidence vote speeches on the House- must be awarded to North Abaco's red shirts MP comrade Darren. You can't make this Comrade Darren up, you just, can't.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

July fast approaching I hope they don't have to reach out to churches for assistance with shelter...again

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ConchFretter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

How does the Bahamian government, for decades, lean on churches to provide shelter from the proverbial storms (how many shelters has the government actually built?!?!!) and now want to chastise churches for doing what churches do -- help those in need???

Lord help this country if come next hurricane season the churches decide they can't/won't serve as shelters!!

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