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lundi 23 février 2015

Bahamas Told to Improve Conditions at Center Housing Haitian Immigrants

An international human rights commission has told the Bahamas that it must take measures to protect people housed at the country’s detention center for immigrants, where a “serious and urgent situation” places migrants’ “lives and physical integrity at risk.”
Human rights groups have accused the government of housing mostly Haitian immigrants in inhumane conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Center in Nassau, the capital.
Migrants incarcerated there were not given fresh clothing, women lacked feminine hygiene products, and there is a single functioning toilet for all the men, according to a complaint filed in December by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in Washington and the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights in Puerto Rico.
The critical remarks, part of a resolution by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States, follow the introduction of new immigration policies in the Bahamas that have been criticized internationally.
According to a strict new immigration policy, schoolchildren like these two friends of Haitian descent who were born in the Bahamas will be required to have a student residency permit to attend school next fall.Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep Up HaitiansJAN. 30, 2015
In an effort to suppress illegal immigration, in November the Bahamas enacted new rules requiring noncitizens, including those born in the Bahamas, to obtain passports from their parents’ country of origin. Hundreds of people, including some born on the islands, have been detained in sweeps targeting Haitian neighborhoods.
One Haitian woman gave birth on the detention room floor after the authorities at the center gave her injections to delay her contractions, the human rights groups said.
On Friday, the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said in a statement that it was reviewing the commission’s findings but it reiterated the government’s rejection of the accusations. “We believe that many of the concerns are overstated and inaccurate,” the ministry said, describing them as “based on untested tendentious anecdotal material.”
In a previous statement, the ministry said that activists had staged events to unfairly present some people as victims.
“Victimhood is often a practiced art,” the government statement said in response to a report on the new immigration approach published last month by The New York Times.
“Often the stories told are exaggerated, outright false and many times self-serving,” the statement said. “It is not the policy of the government to violate the rights of any individual and at all material times this country will act in a manner consonant with its international obligations toward children and the stateless. We make no apology, however, for enforcing the laws and protecting its borders in the national interest and in the interests of the Bahamian people.”
The commission said it had asked the government to provide hygienic conditions and adequate medical treatment to detainees. The commission also asked for measures to address overcrowding and the special needs of unaccompanied children.
The O.A.S. also scheduled a hearing next month to discuss the Bahamas’ new immigration policies.
“It is not very common for the commission to grant these kinds of precautionary measures. It is very serious,” said Santiago A. Canton, executive director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, a program of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Ninety-nine percent of the people at that center are Haitians, and this is also important because it is related to the situation of vulnerability of the Haitian people everywhere.”
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/world/americas/bahamas-told-to-improve-conditions-at-center-housing-haitian-immigrants.html?_r=0

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