Rights Bahamas alerts international groups over repatriation policy shift

Human rights group Rights Bahamas yesterday announced it has alerted international human rights groups about the government’s recent announcement that repatriation of undocumented migrants who were living on Abaco and Grand Bahama will resume in the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation.

The government had suspended deportation for those affected in the days following the storm.

In a statement Monday, the Department of Immigration warned that the government will enforce all immigration laws.

The statement also indicated that work permits are non-transferable from employer to employer.

It also noted that any transfer from one employer to another under a current permit may only be legally affected by a new application submitted by that new employer.

The statement added that the applicant for a new work permit, or the renewal of an existing work permit, by a prospective employer of a non-Bahamian worker will be required to satisfy immigration officials that satisfactory living accommodations have been arranged by that employer on behalf of the prospective worker, and that the said worker will not be permitted to live in sub-standard housing.

Given the fact that hundreds of people have lost everything in the storm, Rights Bahamas said that the requirement to prove employment and satisfactory living conditions or face leaving the country immediately is the height of cynicism and cruelty.

The human rights group urged all of its international partners to “vocally condemn this declaration by the Bahamas government.”

It also described this statement as the “smug hypocrisy” of the department, and reminded the public that The Bahamas is a nation of laws.

Rights Bahamas also indicated that it will be reporting the matter to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


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