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UN urges The Bahamas not to detain asylum seekers

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has urged The Bahamas not to detain asylum-seekers in custody and to find alternative ways of accommodating them.

This comes as the country saw “uncharacteristically high numbers” of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers in 2022, according to a national report the government drafted ahead of Wednesday’s United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) review of our human rights record.

“The 2022 reporting period showed uncharacteristically high numbers in the processing of irregular migrants and those requesting asylum,” the report said. "In keeping with protocols developed in consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 705 persons were screened, nine persons were interviewed and two were processed for refugee status in 2022."

"The government continues to take every effort to improve the efficiency of detention, interview and repatriation exercises, being guided by the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. The Refugee Administration Unit (RAU) has reaffirmed that all applications are considered by merit and each matter adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. The RAU has made alternative recommendations to asylum where protection may be warranted but the person does not meet the requisite criteria. The DOI continues to uphold its mandate and mission to regulate the movement of people across the borders of The Bahamas."

The UNHCR has urged The Bahamas to detain asylum-seekers and refugees only under “circumstances where it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the legitimate purpose achieved and justified by international law.”

“As per international legal standards, if detained, asylum-seekers should be entitled to minimum procedural guarantees, including the possibility to contact and be contacted by UNHCR; and refugees should not be detained or otherwise punished for their unlawful entry or presence in the territory,” the UNHCR’s report said.

In 2021, seven asylum-seekers sued the government over their detention, including a mother separated from her young child for over a year.

The people had fled Cameroon over fear of persecution. They were kept at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre from May 2019 and were released in April, 2021.

They told reporters they were shocked by the "brutal and hostile" treatment they received and said they were traumatised by their experience.

Meanwhile, 4,748 people were repatriated in 2022, 2,831 in 2021, 964 in 2020, 2,663 in 2019 and 2,290 in 2018, according to the government’s report to the UNHRC.

“During the reporting period, the government spent an estimated $4,656,634 on repatriations, which includes payments for translations, flights, food, accommodations, supplies, etc.,” the report said.

Immigration Minister Keith Bell said on Friday that nearly $1m had been spent on repatriations this year.

“I would have signed in excess of 200 repatriation orders," he said. "As we speak, I know that there is an interception of some 54 irregular migrants out to sea right now. And that is something that we are investigating now to determine where a point of origin was and determine how are we going to deal with those persons who are now in custody as well as the smugglers more particularly."

Comments

bahamianson 1 year, 1 month ago

Send them to America or other UN nations.

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 1 month ago

I agree. We cannot import a low skilled population in greater numbers than our native population. And yes I know it's nowhere near our numbers now, but you make an announcement that asylum seekers are welcome and you wont be able to see blue water for the amount of sails that will be headed our way. Let the UN organize flights from Haiti to migrate the population directly to European cities. Europe has lots of empty land if that's the criteria, far more than the square footage of the Bahsmas. They also have the systems and resources to handle millions of migrants.

mandela 1 year, 1 month ago

In 2021 the population of Haiti was 11.45 million, Cuba 11.26 million, and Jamaica 2.828, combined equals more than 25 million. These are the countries that mainly migrate and settle in the Bahamas most frequently. In 2021 the population of the Bahamas was 406,906. Just 0.05 percent of these three countries would wipe out the Bahamian population, and this does not include the other countries that migrate here. The UN and these countries with big economies should help them (Haiti ) first because they can afford to. The Bahamas with a limited amount of resources, can hardly take care of its own citizens and must now be responsible to take care of others to the detriment of its citizens. There is a lot to consider when taking asylum seekers in, how do we know who they are? The UN is good at talking and trying to preach and conform others to its will.

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 1 month ago

Parliament needs to enact the policy to put a stay on the right to apply for citizenship

LastManStanding 1 year, 1 month ago

I would take it a step further and say that we need to retroactively revoke certain citizenships just like the Dominican Republic did a little while back.

birdiestrachan 1 year, 1 month ago

Enough is enough the Bahamas has it own problems medical care, the roads , and the crime issue those from the UN can go Haiti put boots on the ground and see what they can do, press releases do not help Haiti

Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Do what other countries do a declare a state of emergency regarding illegal immigration and make some rules to bring it to zero until such time as Haiti normalizes.

I would also ask the UN if they have a number in mind as to how many asylum seekers / refugees they think our economy can handle each year. Is 1,000 a year too little? What about 10,000? Maybe they think 50,000 is reasonable?

Before we think about accepting refugees we need a way to ensure that they enter the system properly so that the government can collect NIB etc.

ExposedU2C 1 year, 1 month ago

And to think the Davis-led PLP administration is considering new legislation that would declare The Bahamas to have two official languages, English and Creole. Apparently the PM of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is responsible for having planted this idea in Fwreddy Boy Michell's small mind and PM Davis thinks it is a terrific idea.

Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

You had better be joking about that Creole crap!!!

SP 1 year, 1 month ago

The Dominican Republic's policy dealing with Haitians who had their birthright citizenship stripped by a Constitutional Court ruling in 2013 should be followed to the letter!

The court decided that only people born in the country to Dominican parents or legal residents can be citizens. The ruling was applied retroactively to all people born to ex-pats in the republic from 1929 to 2010.

The Dominicans felt it necessary to adopt such strict policies to protect their country for their citizens regardless of the displeasure and loud objections of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Successive Bahamian government's behavior of painstakingly protecting irregular migrants to any lengths instead of supporting the rights of Bahamians points to "a criminal plot" underway "to change the demographic makeup of the Bahamas".

This United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees article is more than likely in collusion with the PLP and FNM as a tool to open the floodgates for Haitians to migrate to the Bahamas.

The Bahamas is already overwhelmed with Haitians to the point of being outnumbered. As Haitians like to say "There are more of them than us". We are now facing a national security issue and simply CANNOT support any more migrants

The Haitian dilemma cannot be resolved without international boots on the ground intent on removing the corrupt elite and crooked political class that caused the mess and actually controlling drug dealing, human smuggling, weapons dealing, gangs, and any number of nefarious activities.

At best the Bahamas can agree for U.N. agencies to use a Southern Island in the Bahamas as a transit location for Haitians seeking migration and asylum to other countries.

DON'T BRING THEM HERE!

ExposedU2C 1 year, 1 month ago

Suggest you stop calling them irregular migrants. They are illegal aliens even though Fwreddy Boy Mitchell would much prefer they be referred to as Future Bahamians.

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