Categorized | National News


Queens Counsel and Human Rights Activist, Fred Smith is roundly criticizing the Minnis administration for upholding what he calls, “an illegal and unconstitutional policy of rounding up immigrants and detaining them at The Detention Centre, which he referred to as “an illegal facility.” He called it a concentration camp.

Having no difficulty in the ultimatum given by the government, but criticizing the way in which the Minnis administration is saying that undocumented immigrants must leave the country, the leader of Rights Bahamas, formally the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, launched a scathing attack on the Free National Movement (FNM) administration’s tough stance on immigration.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told members of the House of Assembly on Wednesday that illegal immigrants must leave the country by December 31st of face arrest and deportation.

Speaking on the Radio Love 97 Talk Show Issues of the Day yesterday, Mr. Smith said,“I have no difficulty in our government calling upon persons who fall into that category asking them to leave, there have been very many voluntary repatriation exercises over the years.

“My criticism of the policy is that this prime minister, my prime minister, who I very ardently supported, both he and his party before the election, has committed himself unlike the previous PLP administration to governance according to the rule of law.

“I have and I had high hopes that this government would respect the law, in enforcing the law,” Mr. Smith said.

Having been born and raised in Haiti Mr. Smith expressed serious concerns about The Bahamas descending into what he called dictatorial practices, like that which he saw while growing up.

“I am very deeply devoted to the Rule of Law and to the protection of human rights and fundamental rights here in The Bahamas because I do not want The Bahamas to descend into the dictatorial practices and the abusive fascist dictatorial nation that Haiti was.

“If we are not careful in The Bahamas, if we don’t hold our politicians accountable and our government regulatory agencies accountable according to law, just because I support a political party does not mean that I am going to turn a blind eye to continued illegal practices,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith further expressed disappointment in the Free National Movement, a party he said he ardently supported.

“I am sadly very disappointed that from May 11th the government that has committed itself to the Rule of Law; has continued to pursue the illegal policies of the PLP in two very significant ways.

“One is the continued illegal raids and illegal detentions and illegal deportations.

“The second way is the fact that they continue to prevent children born in The Bahamas who are, by law, under the Education Act, obliged to attend public school, but are continuing to prevent them from doing so,” Mr. Smith said.

“Both policies established by Mitchell in the previous administration, November 2014,” he stated.

Mr. Smith however, made it clear that he does not have a problem with Immigration officers apprehending those suspected of being here illegally, as it is due process. However he stated that the generalization and indiscriminate application of policies is what he criticizes.

“When you say that someone is an undocumented immigrant or someone is an illegal immigrant or someone is an immigrant or someone should be deported because they are not Bahamian,

that kind of generalized description and the indiscriminate application of policies against those very broad categories through the raids and the seizures and the home invasions and the deportation is what I criticized the previous government of and I am now very vigorously criticizing the present government.

“I have no problem if an Immigration Officer suspects a person of being here illegally, of working without a permit, or overstaying, from arresting that person, taking that person before a court of law, charging the person- the person is presumed innocent until proven guilty- have their trial, sentenced and deported.

“Or the Immigration authorities, who have the power, if people who immediately arrive, who obviously have not been given permission to come in, they can arrest those persons and they can serve them all of the deportation order and then they could deport them.

“These are due process provisions in our Criminal Procedure Codes and our Immigration Act,” Mr. Smith stated.

“What I criticized of the previous government about and why I am being extremely vocal in my criticism of this government is the continued failure to respect the law, the Criminal Procedure Code, the right to a trial the presumption of innocence, the right to an education, the right to bail the right to procedures under the Immigration Act.

“I don’t mind them being processed according to law, I don’t object to that as long as it’s done in a humane fashion.

“What I object to is this completely illegal process that exists. The Immigration Department along with the Defence Force seize sometimes dozens if not hundreds of people within a month or two they never take them to a court of law. They themselves decide to be the judge and jury,” Mr. Smith said.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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