Local rights group gets international hearing
Local human rights group Rights Bahamas yesterday announced that there will be a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the treatment of migrants in The Bahamas.
The request for the hearing was filed by Rights Bahamas in conjunction with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, which is headquartered in Washington, DC.
The hearing is set to take place in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 10 as part of the 172nd Ordinary Period of Sessions of the IACHR, which is an independent organ of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Rights Bahamas said the hearing is “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”.
It added, “The IACHR was told of the Minnis administration’s shantytown demolition policy, over which the Supreme Court has issued an injunction preventing further homes from being destroyed in New Providence.
“The application noted that despite the injunction, the government persists in its efforts to demolish shanty towns on the Family Islands and Abaco.”
The government last year gave residents of most shantytowns on New Providence until August 10 to leave before demolition was set to begin.
However, in August, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures in New Providence.
There remains a deadline of July 31, 2019 for the eradication of shantytowns in Abaco.
Rights Bahamas also raised concern over last week’s immigration raids, and questioned whether they were an “act of defiance” by the government in response to news of the hearing.
The organization said that in its application to the IACHR, it detailed the “general anti-migrant sentiment, the harassment and discrimination that migrants and their descendants experience on an everyday basis”.
It also made mention of practices of “profiling people based on appearance, name, accent, etc. and the illegal practice of demanding that individuals produce papers confirming their status”.
Rights Bahamas said it will be sending a full delegation to Kingston to testify at the hearing, and noted that the government was also invited to respond to the allegations.
“The Minnis administration is reminded that the world will be watching as the hearings are broadcast live around the globe,” it said.
“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.”