Civil liberty fear over random check


Hubert Chipman

Reader poll

Do you agree with random ID checks as a method to tackle illegal immigration?

  • Yes, I agree with random ID checks 73%
  • No, I do not agree with random ID checks 27%

142 total votes.


Tribune Staff Reporter


HUBERT Chipman, Opposition MP and Shadow Minister for Immigration, said yesterday that the government should apologise to Bahamians who were profiled during a random identification check on the Eastern Road yesterday morning.

Government, he said, should implement an identification procedure that does not involve profiling people.

His comments came after Immigration officers blocked traffic in Eastern New Providence in an attempt to round up illegal immigrants.

The officers stopped only some motorists and passengers and requested that they provide a form of identification.

It is unclear why some were targeted and others were not.

In one incident, an argument broke out on a bus between a woman and an immigration officer when the officer singled out only one of the 16 passengers and said: “I need to see your ID.”

Expressing shock and fear, a female eyewitness said: “That’s what y’all do now, hey? Look for people who look like Haitians and tell them show you their ID?”

The officer left after the passenger he approached provided him with identification. However, some Bahamians on social media yesterday claimed when they couldn’t provide identification, they were detained.

Mr Chipman said he supports attempts at solving the illegal immigration problem in the Bahamas, but that profiling people is “a violation of civil liberties”.

“I think the government should apologise to those people who were profiled,” he said. “What does a Bahamian look like? How the hell you know that’s a Haitian? I’ve heard many times people say, that’s a Haitian, you see how he look. How could you say that?”

“How would you like it if someone came up to you in the midst of everyone else and asked only you to provide identification?”

Mr Chipman also criticised the manner in which yesterday’s search was conducted.

“People were trying to get to work and drop their children to school. I was on the road and didn’t go a mile because of what was going on so I went back and left at 10am and it was worse. It is totally ridiculous.”

“There’s a way to do things,” he said, adding that the search “dampened the spirt of people going to work.”

A number of angry drivers contacted The Tribune yesterday, complaining that it took about two hours to make it downtown from the eastern end of the island.

Some also noted that while ordinary Bahamians were made late for work, missed appointments, or were otherwise inconvenienced, MPs and senior government officials were escorted out of the traffic jam by police outriders.

For his part, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage spoke generally about the identification checks, saying: “That is something that was done by immigration officers primarily. They are seeking to determine who is here legally and who is not here illegally. It happens from time to time. It’s not new.”

Dr Nottage was one of the MPs who a police outrider helped avoid the holdup.


realfreethinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Slowly heading to a police state. It is so unfortunate we dont have any rights advocates in our country

ThisIsOurs 10 years, 6 months ago

Why does Dr Nottage always defer responsibility? When the webshop issue arose he "couldnt tell the commissioner how to do his job" and now this stink is "something done by immigration officers"...in other words don't look at me, I had nothing to do with it. I'm not responsible. BUT you are responsible, either you're not leading or you're giving bad direction. Error of omission or error of commission.

The_Oracle 10 years, 6 months ago

Xenophobia, the fear of others different from yourself. Bahamians live in a constant state of xenophobia, fed by the 5 year election cycle, but the bogey Man never goes away..... Perhaps wht underlies is the thin grasp we hold on our own country, Crime, rampant debt and corruption. All for me Baby. Perhaps being given our own country so easily, indicates we do not value it. How other wise could we have let it degenerate so badly? So now we will lose our freedom, in order to take control of ourselves. Freedom exchanged for security yields neither.

banker 10 years, 6 months ago

According to the law and civil liberties, the police cannot stop/detain/question you without just cause. They are not allowed to randomly pull anyone over unless they have a reason to. Being stopped for looking like a Haitian is an egregious offence against that principle.

Alex_Charles 10 years, 6 months ago

tell that to the officer putting cuffs on you.While what you say is true it doesn't reflect reality. i

The_Oracle 10 years, 6 months ago

Yep, people who are aware of their surroundings are profiling constantly. Profiling as a tool is indispensable, however when coupled with xenophobia, it can get ugly.

HarryBlack 10 years, 6 months ago

While illegal immigration is a problem, illegal immigrants are not the ones slaughtering and robbing people left and right. Wouldn't it make more sense to put our efforts and resources on the problems that are plaguing us the most?

Additionally, if Bahamian citizens are wrongfully detained under the assumption that they might be Hatien, then they should be financially compensated for waisted time and humiliation. I find it unacceptable for any law enforcement officer to waist my time without a very good reason. What if I am on my way to a funeral, or to see a dieing relative in the hospital?? Time is a very valuable thing.

rony 10 years, 6 months ago

To much immigrants are walking around man something must be done, No Bahamian should have a problem with this!

john33xyz 10 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely correct Rony. People always complaining they can't find a job - then government is trying to get rid of the people who have their job - and they complain.

These people are also sending their money out of the country as fast as they make it - except for a few dollars to buy rice and turkey wings. An economy cannot function if there is a vacuum cleaner attached to it sucking the money out. Money needs to circulate among the people.

People say they have no money and no jobs. But according to most of the comments on here - that's the way they like it.

bismark 10 years, 6 months ago

you are correct,we complain and when something is done we still complain,if you are a BAHAMIAN you shouldn't have no problem,an officer asking you for identification,i don't see the problem,but something has to be done about all ILLEGALS not just the Haitians,our country is too small to absorb all these people,immigration need to step up and continue with massive raids,the illegals are right in our faces,they are not hard to round up.

john33xyz 10 years, 6 months ago

Bismark - correct. I guess I picked on one group by mentioning turkey wings - LOL - but it is not JUST ONE group. It doesn't matter what nationality the illegal is - if he/she is here taking away jobs, money, and social services from a Bahamian then they need to GO. You can't take your child to the doctor anymore, unless you go and sit down in the waiting room the week before you get sick - so your number will be called by the time you do get sick.

Bahamianpride 10 years, 6 months ago

Why stop cars waste of time, walk outside Haitians every where.. This is nonsense they're not hiding & u faking like u looking.. This is a staged event for the public all politics & total b.s..

Greentea 10 years, 6 months ago

We complain a lot but can anyone offer an alternative plan? We say and most believe that illegal immigration is a serious problem so how do we combat it systematically? Has anyone ever asked Minister Mitchell (and other lawyers) why he is against national identification cards, databases with fingerprints and photos? Why their use is not promoted/allowed in the Bahamas (apparently they fly in the face of civil liberties under our law) YET without complaint every Bahamian submits to the very same at the airport when entering the United States? Why do we draw on the laws of other countries when it suits us - our British system heritage in this case- US stop and frisk laws as well- yet seem completely impotent in creating laws and strategies of policing suitable to our peculiar circumstances? I am not xenophobic. I have what might be considered a "non-Bahamian" last name (whatever that means) and have had to present my passport many times to prove my right to the soil. We just went to these new passports and should have started the database then. We should also have an "integrated" system (immigration and police) where everyone entering the country by boat, plane, cruiseship or otherwise- legal or illegal- submit to the same. Only then would be able to monitor - using the right technology (a scary word for our governments it seems) who has a right to be here- whether by citizenship, residency or visa and who doesn't. We would be able to check in an instant, how many times the same person has tried to enter; the various means he/she has tried to enter etc. Until we are ready for that level of order, record keeping and processing, then we are talking fool. These police checks are ineffective and a complete waste of time.

ThisIsOurs 10 years, 6 months ago

We need an independent Fraud Office. Ask those consultants from New Zealand for advice on how to set that up. Attack the problem at the source.

B_I_D___ 10 years, 6 months ago

Cut and paste from my vote... I am a Bahamian Citizen. TECHNICALLY I don't need to carry around ANY form of ID...if I get pulled over for a traffic violation, I have 24 hours to present my drivers license to the necessary police station...and that's just my driver license. So if I do not carry that around, I will most definitely NOT be carrying around my passport, or proof of citizenship papers, so I get pulled over, have no ID and no proof of residency, and I am going to get hauled off to the detention centre...yeah, I have a problem with that. I understand what they are TRYING to do, round up some illegals, but it is a very slippery slope.

HarryBlack 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree B_I_D. There must be a viable alternative to our immigration woes.

Bahamianpride 10 years, 6 months ago

The solution is to stop people from coming in the first place and assimilate those that are already here... First offer a Amnesty program for individuals to come forward plead there case and receive the necessary documentation, we are not inhumane and it gets a count of the population. Now to immediately deal with the crime issue, 1st require all young men 18-26 that are not in school or gainfully employed to serve 2 years in the Defense force, it will teach them discipline, give them employment, get them of the street from commiting crime and help secure our borders to stop the flow of drugs, guns and illegal immigration.. 2nd offer young men and women arrested for non violent or sexual crimes military Boot camp with the defense force or jail time.. Create a Training base with housing on one of the larger outer islands.. Teach them marketable skills and discipline, and if they don't want to change send them to jail for violation of the conditions of there probation.. If they are in training they are not busy making babies or causing problems.. They will be provided with free housing, food, uniforms and more importantly purpose and goals.. Leaving a bunch of unemployed, broke, unskilled, undisciplined young people running around without a purpose is dangerous.. Too deal with the immediate crime problem u must audit the RBPF and flush out to the street those individuals sitting behind the desk getting fat.. The way criminals are getting around is mostly by cars, Get modile units out on patrol and run random license plates.. If the car comes back stolen, unregistered or plates not matching the car, stop it and engage.. Then increase the amount of foot patrols in all communities continuously day and night and build relationships and trust with the communities instead of behaving like a occupational army. Talk to the kids, families, Old people sitting on the porch, let them know u care and will be around daily... Non of this can be done without leadership but its a start of a solution..

Greentea 10 years, 6 months ago

Ok Bahamianpride. I see where you are going- but I have to disagree with you on one point- You can't equate "non-violent and sexual crimes"- Sexual crimes are extremely Violent! And the perps need to go directly to jail- no boot camp or choice of jail- directly to JAIL!

Bahamianpride 10 years, 6 months ago

Greetea, meant to say non violent and non sex crimes...Excuse my typo..

Ocaba 10 years, 6 months ago

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

― Martin Niemöller

Sign in to comment