Categorized | National News

Gov’t Orders Cuban Abuse Inquiry

Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Officers accused of abusing Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre will have the chance to defend themselves as internal proceedings into the controversial issue are set to begin soon.

National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage said Tuesday that RBDF officials have informed that they have finally completed their investigations into those widespread allegations and now, in-house proceedings similar to a trial before a Magistrates Court will have to be held.

“These proceedings are being conducted in accordance with the legal rules prescribed under the Defence Act and Regulations, which approximate a trial before a Magistrate’s Court,” Dr. Nottage said. “As such we will refrain from making any comments concerning the proceedings while they are under consideration.”

With that in mind, Dr. Nottage declined to give any information as to what came out of that report and how these internal proceedings will be carried out and who is involved.

When asked how many officers are implicated in this matter, Dr. Nottage declined comment.

Last month, a report alleging to be the official file, supposedly documenting exactly what happened at the Carmichael Road site noted that five defence force officers were culpable in the matter and even admitted to being involved.

When asked if the fact that this matter is now headed to an internal court is an admission of guilt, Dr. Nottage said, not necessarily.

“It is safe to say that the persons who have been implicated in any way have the opportunity to have their case heard by their defence force process,” he explained. “This isn’t anything new. The defence force constantly has to deal with reports or infractions by persons who are a part of those agencies.

“It is not a criminal proceeding as far as I am aware but a proceeding consistent with the Defence Act and depending on what they find one will determine ultimately what type of hearing it is.”

The national security minister also added that the hearings will be held in camera but a full report of the proceedings will be issued at their conclusion.

He added that this is to avoid publication of matters which may compromise national security.

However, Dr. Nottage added that three independent observers will be permitted to attend the hearings in order to assure the public that the proceedings are transparent and just.

“They will be chosen from the general public,” he explained. “One is likely to be a judge, one is likely to be a member of the church and one is likely to be someone who is familiar with these types of tribunal.

“The names we are not at liberty to release today but we will get them very shortly.”

Dr. Nottage could not say exactly when those hearings will begin or when the report on those hearings will be available, but he said they will be done in the shortest time possible.

Just recently the Opposition slammed the government for dragging its feet in appointing a committee to conduct a review of the detention centre, But Dr. Nottage announced Tuesday that that has already been done.

“(Ret.) Justice Emmanuel Osadebay, Rev. Williams Higgs and former Police Superintendent Mr. Douglas Hanna have agreed to serve on a committee to inquire into the administration of the detention centre and to make recommendations for its efficient administration and management,” he said.

“This committee has been asked to complete its inquiry within a reasonable time.”

Dr. Nottage said that committee is expected to start its work within the next seven to 10 days.

Ianthia Smith

Written by Ianthia Smith

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