Categorized | National News

Bahamas, Panama To Discuss Repatriation Agreement

Discussions on a possible repatriation agreement between The Bahamas and Panama are set to begin today.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell told The Bahama Journal yesterday that talks were scheduled to begin last year but never did following an alleged tape that emerged falsely showing the abuse of Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

“I indicated last year when the matter arose with the Cuban detainees that Panama offered to be one of those countries to take them in because they could not return to Cuba and who were previous residents of the United States as well,” the minister told The Bahama Journal from Panama yesterday.

“The meetings got postponed for various reasons and they have finally been set for today. We will also be discussing some things with COPA Airlines and whether they can expand their business throughout the Bahamas. We also hope to look at some other business and commercial opportunities between our two countries.”

An agreement was signed last October between Cuba and The Bahamas and is expected to expedite the repatriations of illegal Cuban migrants.

The agreement came after officials noticed increased levels of Cubans migrating to The Bahamas in hopes of receiving asylum from a third country.

Minister Mitchell said at the time bureaucracy issues between both countries have long bogged down the process; but through this new agreement, this should all be a thing of the past.

“The central objective of this agreement is to reduce the time of regular Cuban immigrants arriving to The Bahamas,” he said.

“Through strengthening the communication between both our countries, our maritime interdiction entities and placing concrete time bound commitments in both countries, we expect to reduce the current repatriation time for regular Cuban migrants from the current situation where migrants might remain in the detention centre for months to repatriation in several weeks at most.”

Cuban Ambassador to The Bahamas Ernesto Guzman said The Bahamas and Cuba have long had a cordial relationship as the countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on migration issues in 1996 and again in 1998.

He said this latest agreement strengthens the bond between the two countries.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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