Attorney Fred Smith, QC yesterday defended his comments calling recent immigration raids carried out as a part of the government’s newly implemented immigration policies institutional terrorism and called on all those living in The Bahamas to stand up and defend their constitutional rights.
Mr. Smith, who serves as president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association said in an interview with the Journal Sunday that his comments were neither inflammatory nor meant to create an emotional uproar, but he charged that the government’s new policies and subsequent tactics are in breach of the constitution.
“The abuse that people are being subjected to in this country whether they are of Haitian extract or people who have entitlement to status – everybody in The Bahamas is entitled to all the protections of the constitution,” he said. They don’t become outlaws because they are of Haitian heritage.”
Mr. Smith, who contends that for 40-years he has challenged the government’s immigration policies, said there is a process the government must follow and he maintained that raids are illegal.
The attorney charged that the government’s new policies are only breeding “Haitian hatred and discrimination.
“I’m concerned with the government respecting peoples’ rights,” Mr. Smith said.”My language is not inappropriate for the circumstances when you see children being forcefully separated from their parents – people being dragged out their homes – people being hunted down like dogs in the bush my language is soft.
“I urge people in The Bahamas be they Haitian or Haitian extraction or Bahamians or foreigners whites, blacks or browns like me to stand up for their rights or else The Bahamas is going to go the same way as the dictatorship in Haiti under [Francois Duvalier] Papa Doc or many of the other dictatorial nations in the world.
“Abuse of human rights, inhuman and degrading treatment will not be tolerated.”
In an earlier press release, Mr. Smith said: “There is no legal requirement for a Haitian or anyone else living in The Bahamas to travel with their work permit or other form of identification. No officer of the law has the right to detain anyone for failure to produce the same, and any policy that includes such provisions is an outright violation of our laws.
“The Bahamas is not Guantánamo Bay. We do not simply detain people without due process and the legal authority to do so. The GBHRA calls on the government to cease and desist from this inhumane policy immediately, and replace it with one that is in accordance with constitutionally-mandated due process and the rule of law.”