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Haitians With Legal Status, Illegally Detained In Nassau
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Posted by:Apr 14th 2006, 06:01:30 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThursday, 13 April

Differing views on raids
By MINDELL SMALL, Guardian Senior Reporter

There were mixed views among political parties regarding the manner in which the government carried out the immigration raids on Friday.

In the roundup in Eleuthera, 187 immigrants were arrested and taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, but 166 had to be released as they had legal documents. In Exuma, 176 individuals were arrested but 65 were released because they too had the necessary documents. In Ragged Island however, all 186 persons apprehended were reportedly illegal immigrants.

The Bahamas Democratic Movement came out largely in support of the government's actions; the Free National Movement said it supported the apprehension and repatriation of all undocumented aliens but questioned the manner in which the raids were conducted and the Bahamas Nationalist Party said the raids were ill- advised.

BDM leader Cassius Stuart said yesterday: "Everything has to be done in proper order but I don't want the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) or the FNM to try to gain brownie points on this matter. We have a massive immigration problem in our Family Islands and the police had no way of verifying that the individuals had proper work permits because we know that there are a massive amount of fraudulent work permit documents in the community."

The BDM leader continued, "So they had to bring them into Nassau. The process by which they did it might have been questionable but it had to be done."

Condemning the operation in Eleuthera and calling it an embarrassment to the government and the country, the FNM said, "Those who enforce the law must also obey the law. This applies equally to the police as it does to the citizen. Immigration officers should have been in Eleuthera to determine on the spot that these persons were in possession of legal documentation."

The FNM further noted that it was a waste of public resources to transport 166 legal residents to Nassau without assuming responsibility for returning them to Eleuthera.

Dr Dexter Johnson, a law professor and leader of the newly formed Bahamian Nationalist Party, blamed successive governments for the illegal immigration problem and pointed out that if a national identification card system was in place early morning raids would be unnecessary. "If we had a national ID card with the kind of encrypted technology like in money, where it's possible to know what is fraudulent and what is not, then this question of picking up 140-odd people who are here legally would not happen," he explained.

Asked if the government should put off the raids until an ID card system is implemented, the BNP leader replied, "Well, there are other ways of doing it. Getting people up at 3 in the morning is Gestapo tactics and that's likely to produce more terror than anything else. You should not be out to terrorise people."

He added, "So what we had was more of a public relations exercise rather than something that was well thought out. You cannot address this problem by simply having a knee-jerk reaction."

Coalition for Democratic Reform Chief Operating Officer, Phenton Neymour and Acting Chief Executive Officer, Charles Maynard were unavailable for comment yesterday.
Posted by:Apr 12th 2006, 02:45:25 pm
island ladyIllegally-arriving Haitians may certainly ........ take jobs at whatever level of salary being offered to get their foot in the door ...... but even so they tend to quickly move up the skill ladder to better-paying jobs.

People tend to vote with their pocketbook ...... and around the world shop for good deals ..... whether at walmart or super value or hiring a gardener to hack the weeds, so yes ... asking Bahamians, expat homeowners, local business owners to put their money where their mouth is and pay a decent wage is an honorable concept. I'd like to see it in action, too, but am not holding my breath for a sea change anytime soon.

What's different here is that these employees were legally permitted to be here in the country, and work as waitresses, housekeepers, teachers, farmers, bookkeepers and other useful occupations ...... the invading police force, and yes to many it felt like an invasion, encountered many employers pleading to show the legal documents that proved that their employees were legally exempt from such a raid.

Funny how fifty police can find the time to ride up to Briland and Spanish Wells on a boat to raid homes in the middle of the night on a total party ass of a mission, yet somehow can't be found in big enough numbers to patrol our waters to protect us from commercial overfishing, not to mention the almost nightly arrival of square grouper .... rather interesting indeed.
Posted by:Apr 11th 2006, 06:29:34 pm
Fig Tree News TeamApril 11, 2006
Gibson Defends Decision To Detain Group

The Department of Immigration will be re-evaluating its approach to the arrest and detention of illegal immigrants after more than 140 persons were wrongfully detained in a raid on Friday, Immigration and Labour Minister Shane Gibson told The Tribune yesterday.

Mr Gibson, however, defended the decision of the department to detain the group of Haitians in question until their permits and permanent resident certificates were verified.

"It is unfortunate what happened but I can say with all certainly that there will be a 99 per cent chance it will happen again, where persons are picked up with legitimate documents and detained and as soon as it is determined that the documents are valid they are let go," Mr Gibson said.

The minister conceded that although legalised persons get held up in every raid, an unusually high number were captured by mistake on Friday.

"We will continue to look at more ways to minimise these kind of things from happening because obviously we don't want this happening to that extent. It's like trying to tell people not to steal. You will always have thieves out there. You can only put systems in place to minimise the opportunity," Mr Gibson said.

Over the weekend Abner Pinder, chief councillor of Spanish Wells, called for the Immigration Minister to publicly apologise after wrongfully detaining more than 140 permanent residents in the most recent immigration raid.

Shane Gibson said the raid, which was carried out early on Friday morning in the North Eleuthera and Harbour Island areas, netted over 200 persons whom were ferried on "The Rookie" to New Providence for processing.

Mr Pinder said he was able to secure the release of more than 140 people who had been wrongfully detained.

However, Mr Gibson said that this move was necessary because of the number of fraudulant documents that officials have observed in the public domain.

"Last week a Haitian in Miami was convicted of having hundreds of fraudulent Bahamian work permits. When you are moving quickly through the community it is difficult to ascertain if a permit is genuine or not," the minister said. Mr Gibson said if the Miami incident had not happened the massive roundup would not have taken place in the way in which it did.

"I think that they did not want to take any chances," the minister said.

Mr Pinder arranged a Bahamas Fast Ferries charter to take the Haitians back to their homes in North Eleuthera at a cost of $9,000. He also put them up for the night at the Parliament Hotel.

Mr Pinder said that the Commissioner of Police can expect to receive a bill from him very shortly to be reimbursed for his expenses.

Mr Gibson said that government will pay the expenses of the return trip to Eleuthera. Nowadays, he said, documents can be created that look authentic.

By RUPERT MISSICK Jr. Chief Reporter
Posted by:Apr 11th 2006, 01:11:54 pm
KimberlyGood one from the Bahama Journal:

At The Half: Deafening Silence Over Eleuthera Immigration Fiasco
By Theresa Moxey Ingraham
Last week, more than 200 persons were detained because they were suspected of being in The Bahamas illegally. If reports in the media are correct, many of those apprehended in North Eleuthera were roused out of their beds by Police Officers assisting with the raids, denied the opportunity to present proof of their legal status and carried off to be herded onto a boat headed for Nassau.

There are also reports coming out of Eleuthera that even at dockside, employers of some of the suspected illegals showed up with relevant work permits and other documentation, only to be ignored by the officials in charge of this unfortunate apprehension exercise.

A boat trip to Nassau and several hours later and we heard the troubling news that of the total number of persons apprehended and detained from North Eleuthera, more than three quarters had to be released. Interviews and closer examination revealed that the majority of the detainees were persons with legal status in The Bahamas. Indeed, several of them were found to have Permanent Residency status.

What an embarrassing event for both the Department of Immigration and for the Royal Bahamas Police Force. What manner of careless, indifferent and unreliable intelligence could possibly lead to such a serious faux pas on the part of these two essential institutions of protection and surveillance? How do you wind up in a position where you stage a massive immigration raid on a large group of suspected illegals and then end up with egg on your face when the suspects mostly turn out to be innocents after all?

At time of this writing, neither the Police nor the Department of Immigration has offered an explanation or even a back-handed apology, but certainly the media has highlighted the grave error and has reported on the outrage felt by members of the North Eleuthera community over this matter. Spanish Wells’ chief councilor Abner Pinder has gone on record as saying that the detainees were not treated in the correct manner and that the Minister for Immigration should apologize.

For me, while it is bad enough that this whole sorry mess has left key elements of government red-faced and silent over such wanton abuse of power and shocking disregard for civil liberties and human rights, far worse is the thought of what might possibly be motivating these actions.

At the political and administrative leadership level of both Police and Immigration, are we so concerned with appearing to stem a tide (which any astute and rational leadership understands is part of a mighty ocean with multiple currents, varying depths, many feeder streams and problematic sources) that in our zealousness we forget the basic concepts of counter-intelligence and due diligence? In our thrust for headlines, have we decided to ignore decent, time-honoured principles and practices of police questioning, apprehension and natural justice?

Do we simply want to record large numbers of persons arrested and detained so that we can boast of greater numbers each time we make an official press statement? Is it necessary to deploy an excess of fifty Police Officers to assist legally-mandated Immigration Officers in a sleeping community where we have only scant details about large numbers of illegal immigrants?

Are we only concerned about the television and newspaper shots of the wretched of the earth sitting on our immigrant busses and boats, eyes of little children all bewildered and afraid, parents resigned and beaten, but unwittingly making good press for the voters back in the various constituencies or for the citizens who loudly question our ability to apprehend murderers, thieves and rapists?

Worse than all this is the grim reality that outrageous and degrading as last week’s supposed immigration raids were, not nearly enough Bahamian voices will be raised in protest over such callous treatment meted out to fellow human beings. At the level of ordinary citizen, have we forgotten what it means to care about the basic human rights of another individual? Do we truly not mind that our law enforcement and peace-keeping institutions are being used to trample on the rights of persons who have a legal right to be within our shores?

It’s a great pity that the voices of protest and righteous indignation in our country are now only raised when in comes to protesting other people’s sexual orientation or in opposition to equal constitutional rights for women. Such a great pity.

In many other countries, you carry out a middle-of-the-night raid on hundreds of persons who have legal status and the voices of protest and righteous indignation would take to the streets. Civil Liberties and Human Rights organizations would have a field day.

In this country and in the face of last week’s immigration fiasco, our silence is deafening and embarrassing.
Posted by:Apr 11th 2006, 01:31:46 am
Fig Tree News TeamYour Tax Dollars At Work
Legal Immigrants Given One-way Ticket to Nassau

April 10, 2006
Apology Demanded for Illegal Detention of Immigrants

Abner Pinder, chief councillor of Spanish Wells, is calling for the Minister of Immigration to publicly apologise for the wrongful detention of more than 140 permanent North Eleuthera residents in an immigration round up Friday.

And the Commissioner of Police can expect a bill to reimburse their overnight expenses in Nassau and their return transportation to Eleuthera, said Mr Pinder.

The raid, carried out early Friday morning in the North Eleuthera and Harbour Island areas, brought in, more than 200 persons who were taken to New Providence for processing. They were brought to Nassau on board "The Rookie", a double-decker sightseeing boat specially chartered for the purpose. Hearing of the news, Mr Pinder who had just returned to Spanish Wells from Nassau, caught the ferry back to New Providence.

There, and with the help of Immigration officials, whom he thanked profusely, Mr Pinder secured the release of more than 140 people who had been wrongfully detained.

"Some of these poor people were supposed to sit their BGCSE mock exams on Friday," Mr Pinder remarked, "but they (police) could have cared less."

"But what I find mind boggling is that with all the crime in Nassau, they can find 80 to 90 police officers to come and harass these poor innocent people.

"If they would have used some discretion or common sense, none of this would have had to happen. They could have allowed them to show them their documents and avoid all of this," he said.

Accommodations were generously provided by Stephen Wrinkle of Wrinkle Construction (and Briland Brushstrokes Gallery) who provided rooms for Friday night at the Parliament Hotel.

In the morning, a charter was arranged through Bahamas Fast Ferries, and the bill of more than $9,000 was paid by Mr Pinder to take them back to Eleuthera.

When speaking of his generosity, Mr Pinder said he doesn't know how to sit on the sidelines and "allow evil minds to prevail".

He said the Commissioner of Police can expect to receive a bill for reimbursement very shortly.

"These people were treated like dogs. You could swear they weren't human beings.

"That's why I think the Minister (Shane Gibson) should apologise. I have assisted them (police) before in finding those who didn't have their papers, but these people have theirs. They have rights just like you and me.

"Raids have been done to this magnitude before, but never this foolishly. Some of those people (police) are so careless - they have no feelings. And I have to get in it because if not, these people suffer," he said.

A number of those detained told of being awakened from their beds around 2am and dragged from their homes, despite pleading with officers to let them show them their legal documents.

Paulin Ti-Paul told The Tribune of his harrowing ordeal, and the rough treatment he received at the hands of the police.

"They came into my house and took me outside. They didn't even allow me to get anything. I told them I was a permanent resident and had papers, but they said they didn't want to see anything," he said.

The Tribune

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