Human rights group blasts government over deportation policy


by staff writer

NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 2, CMC – The human rights group, Rights Bahamas, has criticised the decision of the Hubert Minnis government to deport undocumented migrants who survived the passage of Hurricane Dorian on September 1 and are now living in shelters.

“Rights Bahamas has alerted international human rights groups to the government’s savage, cold-hearted and illegal plan to expel migrants affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Hubert Minis

“We condemn this sudden about-face from the government’s earlier declaration that it will not target migrant the victims of the storm, and denounce the scheme for what is clearly is – a shameful attempt at political posturing aimed at currying favour with xenophobic elements of the populace,” the group said in a statement.

Immigration Minister, Elsworth Johnson, earlier this week said the shelters would not be used “to circumvent the law.

“If you’re in a shelter and you’re undocumented and you’re not here in the right way, you’re still subject to deportation and the enforcement of the immigration laws,” Johnson said, adding “the government of The Bahamas fully appreciates that we are a country of laws. We’re governed by the rule of law”.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said migrants who have lost their jobs as a result of the hurricane “need to go home” even if their work permits have not yet expired,.

Earlier, the Department of Immigration issued a statement specifying that prospective employers of storm victims that need work permits must prove their applicant has satisfactory living conditions, because if they don’t, they will be denied.

“The public is advised that non-nationals seeking employment in The Bahamas must be approved by the Immigration Department and that applications for the issuance of the first work permit will not be accepted or considered unless the individual is physically present and resident in his or her country of origin at the same time that the first application is made,” the Department of Immigration said.

Bethel said that if the employer is still paying workers hen they have a job, “if not then they need to go home

“The files will reflect who the business or homeowner applicant is. We will know if a job exists,” he added.

In its statement, Rights Bahamas said that the notice by Bethel “is hollow and disingenuous.

“How will those who have lost their property, their money and probably their travel documents manage to leave? This is nothing more than a precursor and excuse for an exercise of mass illegal deportation without due process.

“This very migrant population which the Attorney General speaks of so callously was among the most gravely affected by the storm. Now, the government would kick them when they are at their lowest, and heap further misery on their heads, just to score cheap political points. It is utterly unconscionable to further target, victimise and scapegoat people who have lost everything, including loved ones, in this shameful manner. Are they to have no time to even mourn in peace?”

The human rights group said that it “is the height of cynicism and cruelty” when the government is moving to deport people who “have lost their homes, jobs, everything and then declare that they must prove they are employed and “satisfactory living conditions” – whatever this arbitrary phrase is supposed to mean”.

Rights Bahamas said that this move “will undoubtedly affect hundreds of children of migrants born in the Bahamas, effectively denying them the right to Bahamian citizenship as mandated by the constitution.

“Once expelled with their parents, we all know that they will never be allowed back in to access their birthright. For many, this could mean being rendered stateless if their parents have passed away and/or and they have no way to prove their connection to whatever country our government is planning to expel them.”

Rights Bahamas said it is urging all of its international partners to “vocally condemn this declaration by the Bahamas government.

“We are also reporting the matter to the UNHCR and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with a view to seeking precautionary measures to protect the migrant population in the Bahamas from arbitrary and illegal actions.”

The government-appointed coordinator of hurricane relief efforts in Abaco, Algernon Cargill, also warned undocumented migrants against any plans for returning to Abacos Islands.“

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by staff writer

NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 2, CMC – The human rights group, Rights Bahamas, has criticised the decision of the Hubert Minnis government to deport undocumented migrants who survived the passage of Hurricane Dorian on September 1 and are now living in shelters.

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“Rights Bahamas has alerted international human rights groups to the government’s savage, cold-hearted and illegal plan to expel migrants affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Hubert Minis

“We condemn this sudden about-face from the government’s earlier declaration that it will not target migrant the victims of the storm, and denounce the scheme for what is clearly is – a shameful attempt at political posturing aimed at currying favour with xenophobic elements of the populace,” the group said in a statement.

Immigration Minister, Elsworth Johnson, earlier this week said the shelters would not be used “to circumvent the law.

“If you’re in a shelter and you’re undocumented and you’re not here in the right way, you’re still subject to deportation and the enforcement of the immigration laws,” Johnson said, adding “the government of The Bahamas fully appreciates that we are a country of laws. We’re governed by the rule of law”.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said migrants who have lost their jobs as a result of the hurricane “need to go home” even if their work permits have not yet expired,.

Earlier, the Department of Immigration issued a statement specifying that prospective employers of storm victims that need work permits must prove their applicant has satisfactory living conditions, because if they don’t, they will be denied.

“The public is advised that non-nationals seeking employment in The Bahamas must be approved by the Immigration Department and that applications for the issuance of the first work permit will not be accepted or considered unless the individual is physically present and resident in his or her country of origin at the same time that the first application is made,” the Department of Immigration said.

Bethel said that if the employer is still paying workers hen they have a job, “if not then they need to go home

“The files will reflect who the business or homeowner applicant is. We will know if a job exists,” he added.

In its statement, Rights Bahamas said that the notice by Bethel “is hollow and disingenuous.

“How will those who have lost their property, their money and probably their travel documents manage to leave? This is nothing more than a precursor and excuse for an exercise of mass illegal deportation without due process.

“This very migrant population which the Attorney General speaks of so callously was among the most gravely affected by the storm. Now, the government would kick them when they are at their lowest, and heap further misery on their heads, just to score cheap political points. It is utterly unconscionable to further target, victimise and scapegoat people who have lost everything, including loved ones, in this shameful manner. Are they to have no time to even mourn in peace?”

The human rights group said that it “is the height of cynicism and cruelty” when the government is moving to deport people who “have lost their homes, jobs, everything and then declare that they must prove they are employed and “satisfactory living conditions” – whatever this arbitrary phrase is supposed to mean”.

Rights Bahamas said that this move “will undoubtedly affect hundreds of children of migrants born in the Bahamas, effectively denying them the right to Bahamian citizenship as mandated by the constitution.

“Once expelled with their parents, we all know that they will never be allowed back in to access their birthright. For many, this could mean being rendered stateless if their parents have passed away and/or and they have no way to prove their connection to whatever country our government is planning to expel them.”

Rights Bahamas said it is urging all of its international partners to “vocally condemn this declaration by the Bahamas government.

“We are also reporting the matter to the UNHCR and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with a view to seeking precautionary measures to protect the migrant population in the Bahamas from arbitrary and illegal actions.”

The government-appointed coordinator of hurricane relief efforts in Abaco, Algernon Cargill, also warned undocumented migrants against any plans for returning to Abacos Islands.“