Amnesty International told to stay out Bahamas affairs


Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Branville McCartney said that Amnesty International should “stay out of our business” when it comes to the government’s new immigration policy. The immigration policy, which came into effect on November 1, has come under heavy criticism from the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association, which said the Perry Christie Government’s mass round-up of non-nationals is unconstitutional and is breeding hatred, racism and discrimination against Haitians in that country. A few days ago, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza had also expressed concern about how non-nationals who are unable to show they have permission to live and work there are being arrested.

“They obviously do not know what is going on here” [. . .] “They comment from a distance and not from a reality of what is taking place in our country. With all respect, stay out of our business.” On Monday, the international human rights organization alleged that the government’s policy is “leading to human rights violations” in The Bahamas.

Other critics are Florida State Representative Daphne Campbell and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center). The RFK Center expressed alarm over the “discriminatory use of the new immigration policies in The Bahamas”.

However, the government has insisted that there has been no breach of the law and no violation of any individual’s constitutional rights sanctioned by the government in the enforcement of its immigrations laws. Speaking to the international backlash on Monday, Prime Minister Perry Christie said while The Bahamas is attuned to its international obligations, it is doing what is “just”, and “what is right”. Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell is expected to travel to Miami on Saturday to address what Christie has called “misinformation”.

Mitchell said he will also speak to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) caucus in Washington, DC, soon. On Thursday, McCartney said the DNA has received no reports of the Department of Immigration committing human rights violations, as Amnesty International has alleged. “We encourage the government to continue carrying out the law when it comes to the immigration laws of the country,” said McCartney, a former minister of state for immigration. “They ought to carry them out in a very humane way. The difficulty I am having though is that the problem we have should not have gotten to this stage. “Had the governments past and present not used the Haitian population, in particular, as political pawns, and in some instances the leaders of those organizations, for their own benefit, we would not be in this position.”

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