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Rights Bahamas To Focus On Conditions At Detention Centre

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

CONDITIONS at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre and the impact of government policy on migrants and their descendants will be the focal point of activists’ petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) next week.

Rights Bahamas, in a joint request with the Washington-based group Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, will seek to expand on their 2015 appearance, arguing that inhumane conditions at the detention facility have persisted despite precautionary measures.

The group submitted a summary of their presentation to the IACHR last week. “The current information available to petitioners suggests that detainees at Carmichael Road Detention Centre and the ‘safe house’ set up for women and children continue to suffer from overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of hygiene facilities, and no access to medical or legal supports,” the presentation’s summary read.

“Former detainees also report that the guards at Carmichael Detention Centre were aggressive and verbally abusive and used physical counts as a means of control and abuse,” it continued.

“Individuals detained at Carmichael in 2017 report that conditions at the safe house for women and children are equally inhumane and that women and their children are vulnerable to sexual violence.”

The group references affidavits from former detainees that were used in habeas corpus applications to secure their release.

Among them are accounts from Haitian Fanel Gassant, who was arrested and detained while awaiting a decision on a spousal permit, and Jamaican Kediesha Bent-John, who is married to a Bahamian, and was detained with her 11-year-old daughter.

The two are currently suing the government for damages alongside more than 15 former detainees, whose writs detail claims for assault, battery, false imprisonment and breaches of constitutional rights.

To provide an overview of the current situation, activists also plan to cover: frequent immigration raids and round-ups; deportations of people born in the Bahamas; the demolition of shanty towns; children being turned away from school due to lack of documentation; and ongoing threats to human rights defenders.

The group refers to the draft Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Bill released last month, but notes it contains a provision that would prevent people born in the Bahamas from becoming citizens if they are 19 and older, and provisions that maintain differences in passage of citizenship based on gender.

“Migrants and Bahamians of foreign descent who are detained at Carmichael Road Detention Centre are not guaranteed access to counsel or the right to be heard before deportation,” the group’s summary read.

“Attorneys for detainees have been blocked from meeting clients and have been forcibly removed from the centre. Similarly, petitioners are concerned about the lack of appropriate procedures for the screening of persons with a legitimate claim for refugee status, asylum seekers, those at risk of refoulement and persons at risk of statelessness.”

At the hearing, activists will request the IACHR conduct an on-site visit to gather information on the effect of government policy on migrants and their descendants, including direct testimonies and a visit the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The group also plans to ask for the IACHR to: request information from Bahamas government on how the proposed NAIB is compatible with the state’s obligations under international human law; provide country assistance undersigning and implementing human rights training protocol for officials, including the role and protection of human rights defenders; and conduct further monitoring.

Requests for the government include: revise the draft NIAB to ensure its compatibility with international human rights law; stop arbitrary arrests and halt detentions and deportations until policies are aligned with international law; use detention only as a last resort with clear limits on the length of detention; ensure children are not barred from school due to lack of documentation, that their rights to education are not dependent upon the migratory status of their parents; and engage regularly with civil society.

The RB delegation will include: Stephanie St Fleur, RB president, and committee members Louby George, Fred Smith, Joseph Darville, Alexandria Levarity, Wislande Geffrard and Dawrin Miguel Thompson, along with Kacey Mordecai, a programme officer at RFK Human Rights.

Comments

TheMadHatter 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This is news? They always focusing on the detention center. Too many Bahamians in fox hill prison i guess. Suppose Bahamians dont deserve human rights?

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rawbahamian 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, it seems you have to be a foreigner to get any attention here in The Bahamas, never mind the countless Bahamians who wish they were/are only treated as bad as a foreigner in FoxHill prison or in police cells but of course those issues will not bring any fame or international attention to the CLOWNS who are pushing for air conditioned, 5star accomodations at the Detention even though they broke OUR LAWS by arriving here illegally by illegal means !!! I really don't know why any of these governments don't declare Freddy an unwanted fungus and ship him to his ancestral home to represent them from there amongst the rest of his comrades !

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Schemer18 3 months, 3 weeks ago

“The current information available to petitioners suggests that detainees at Carmichael Road Detention Centre and the ‘safe house’ set up for women and children continue to suffer from overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of hygiene facilities, and no access to medical or legal supports,” These Haitian invaders needs to stay home, & the Bahamas didn't call these people to this country. How did the Bahamas become annex to these ungrateful batch of poverty people? The Bahamas made these migrants to become a human out of Haiti, don't get it twisted for a moment. These Haitians are too naïve talking about "rights Bahamas", should that be Rights Haiti, within Haiti, in which is these people hell hole motherland? Haitians are the forgotten to themselves created from 1804.

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bogart 3 months, 3 weeks ago

WAY PAST DUE FER BAHAMAS TO GET OVER RUN.....WID ERRY COMMA....BUDGETARY CONTROLS FOR TAKING CARE OF OWN.PORE BAHAMIANS.....NO COOPERATION IN PRIMARY COUNTRIES FLOODING DERE CITIZENS....INTO ......AN HAVING POLITICIANS.....TYING DEMSELVES UP INTO PRETZELS......FINDING MONEY TO 5 STAR HOUSING....EXECUTIVE VIP PAPERWORK TREATMENT.......dese ferreign complaints better believe thousands of Bahamians already waiting from own gubbermknt for Crown Land ....an finding files ....ONLY WAY TO CATER TO AGGRIEVED.....IS TO AGGRESSIVELY.....REMOVE THE 50,000 ILLEGALS.....TO FIND TIME AND DEAL WID SITUATION.......TIME FOR POLITICIANS TO BE AS AGGRESSIVE IN POTECTING THE SOVEREIGNTY.....FROM INVADERS.....FOR DA BAHAMIAN FLAG ON DERE COAT....!!!!!!!!..WAY PAST TIME PUSSYFOOTIN WID DA .....DETENTION CENTRE....WASTING TAXPAYERS MONEY POURING MONEY INTO IT......WHO FERREIGNERS GETS WRONG....PUT THEM INTO FOX HILL PRISON.....STOP TRYIN TO BE NICE WID BAHAMIAN TAXPAYERS MONEY....PORE BAHAMIANS DEPENDANT ...ON SOUP LINES....PUTTING SOFT BEDS..CONTINUOUSLY IN DETENTION CENTRE......TIME TO CATCH SENSE....DESTROY IT....SAVE MONEY....FIND FOOD shelters for homeless.....FOR PORE BAHAMIANS LOOKING IN GARBAGE CANS...livin side roads....even one fella wearing garbage bags.....Shirley st...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...Destroy Dention Centre an put dem all in Fox Hill Prison....!!!!

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