June 12, 2021

[Bahamas] Immigration responds to allegations made by Fred Smith/GBHRA

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The Department of Immigration takes note of allegations being made in social media purportedly by Fred Smith QC of an alleged assault on someone he describes as a client and a member of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA).

The Department will make no comment on these allegations or any of its ongoing criminal investigations, save that the public should take whatever Mr. Smith says with “grains of salt.” He is well known for alarmist and inflammatory rhetoric which does not often approximate with the facts. At the end of the day the Department will provide the public with all of the facts regarding anyone in the custody of the Department.

We again say that the Department of Immigration has not been involved in or sanctioned the inhumane treatment of anyone within its care or control.


Related story: [from Bahama Islands Info]

Immigration accused of savagely battering whistleblower by Fred Smith/GBHRA

Dahene2-b Dahene3-b Dahene4-b Dahene5-bTuesday, 30 December 2014 10:25

Statement by Fred Smith, QC President, GBHRA

Young Bahamian/Haitian girl rushed to hospital after being violently assaulted by officers in a clear attempt to silence criticism of harsh new enforcement policy

For the second time since the launch of the government’s draconian and illegal immigration enforcement policy on November 1, Dahene Nonord a 19-year-old young lady, born in The Bahamas, of Haitian parentage, has been unlawfully seized in the street and battered by immigration officers, this time, it appears, severely.

Dahene is my client and closely associated with the GBHRA. Eye witnesses tell us that while arguing with officers over their totally unwarranted attempts to apprehend her for the second time, she was assaulted by a group of officers.

Try though we might to ascertain the extent of her injuries, up to the time of writing this statement, no information has been forthcoming form the authorities. The GBHRA is extremely concerned about her wellbeing.

What we do know, is that shortly after she was detained and beaten around noon, she was transported to the Carmichael Road Police Station. A short while later, an ambulance had to be called to rush her to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

This horrific incident comes just weeks after Dahene had the bravery and integrity to tell the public of her earlier ordeal when she was illegally detained, taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Center, chained to a desk and beaten, ridiculed and humiliated by Immigration officers   because of her Haitian heritage.

We know that matter caused the Department of Immigration enormous embarrassment and focused the eyes of the world on this country’s unsavory record when it comes to denying fundamental rights and protections to those suspected of being in The Bahamas illegally.

As far as the GBHRA is concerned, this is a clear case of calculated revenge on an innocent whistleblower who is a shining example of courage and honesty amid a society increasingly mired in cowardice and self-interest. Even more worryingly, many in the Haitian community feel it was an attempt to silence both Dahene and other critics of their harsh new policy through intimidation and the threat of violence. It is public knowledge that the GBHRA was in the process of preparing a lawsuit on her behalf when this latest incident took place.

It has also come to our attention that, as with numerous police brutality cases over the years, the authorities may intend to level some frivolous charge at Dahene, such as resisting arrest or assaulting an officer, in an attempt to silence her concerning this latest attack or else discredit whatever she may say in the eyes of the public.

I hereby put them on notice: such underhanded and hackneyed tricks will not work in this case, and will only serve to worsen the public relations nightmare that the Immigration Department is daily creating for itself.

The very idea that this tiny, slight figure, who cannot weigh much more than 100 pounds, could attack or harm any of the five hefty, substantial Immigration officers involved in her ordeal – none of whom had to be rushed to hospital – is laughable in the extreme. One of our attorneys on the scene at the police station described the least of them as three times her size. It saddens me to imagine how terrified this young girl must have been, and no doubt still is.

The GBHRA also condemns the actions of the police, who denied her attorney the constitutionally guaranteed right to see her while at the station. And, we denounce in the strongest terms their decision not to release her cellular phone into the custody of said attorney. They have absolutely no right to hold that phone, as its contents can have nothing to do with any resisting arrest or other charge, no matter how specious. Meanwhile it contains sensitive and confidential communications between Dahene and myself and others concerning the lawsuit in connection with her first assault at the hands of Immigration officers.

Those communications are protected by attorney-client privilege, and I hereby warn the Commissioner of Police in the strongest of terms that if the cell phone is not released immediately, or if any of the communications it contains are accessed by his officers, that he may expect both condemnation by international human rights groups and the most high-profile and vigorous of legal actions domestically.

We likewise demand Dahene’s immediate release from police custody and insist on answers from the leadership of both the Immigration Department and the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

This, of course, is but one of innumerable abuses and injustices perpetrated under this illegal and ultimately ineffective new immigration policy, which seems to have been concocted by PLP politicians as nothing more than a woeful attempt to attract votes by appealing to bigotry and xenophobia.

Meanwhile, Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell continues to dodge responsibility for the behavior of his officers, while the country continues to be embarrassed in the eyes of the world. If he knows what is good for him, Mitchell will intervene in this matter and see to it that an innocent 19-year-old girl is released and that her attackers are punished. The world continues to mark the manner of our bearing on this issue.


Photo 1: Outspoken abuse victim Dahene Nonord, 19, in late November, telling of her assault at the hands of Immigration officers.

Photo 2: Dahene being carried by a paramedic outside the Carmichael Road Police Station on December 29 after a second confrontation with officers.

Photo 3: Dahene with Fred Smith, QC, President, GBHRA.

Photos 4-5: Dahene’s documents.

SOURCE: http://www.bahamaislandsinfo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19979:immigration-accused-of-savagely-battering-whistleblower-by-fred-smithgbhra&catid=35:Press%20releases%20of%20interest&Itemid=148


See also:

Grand Bahama Human Rights Association: Mitchell must explain image of people caged like animals

grhra-exuma-bSunday, 28 December 2014 16:41 Statement by Fred Smith, QC GBHRA President

Since the launch of the government’s illegal and draconian immigration crackdown on November 1, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has repeatedly insisted that his officers do not treat people like “cattle”.

In light of the recently-surfaced image showing suspected illegal immigrants penned in a mobile enclosure more suited to the transportation of livestock than human beings, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) demands that he give a satisfactory explanation of the behavior of public servants under his charge.

Responding to the many cases of physical battery, wrongful detention and unlawful tactics which have arisen over the last two months, not to mention the recent rape allegation against a senior Immigration official, Mitchell’s stance has been that the Bahamas government does not condone the abuse of detainees.

IMG_0650 IMG_1048[1] IMG_1050This is a calculated and cynical dodge. The fact is, as minister he is responsible for the Department of Immigration, its employees and their actions. In all such cases, the buck stops with Mitchell. His excuses are simply not good enough.

The photo itself stands as a powerful example of the kind of unconstitutional, inhumane and degrading treatment of individuals – who are innocent until proven guilty under the law – which has stained the soul of The Bahamas for decades. Mitchell’s harsh new policy has only exacerbated this shameful trend.

Its emergence coincides with reports since November 1 of increased discrimination against Bahamian citizens with ‘foreign sounding’ surnames, not only at the hands of Immigration officers, but by public servants in general.

The GBHRA is in the process of collecting testimonials of Bahamians of Haitian descent in particular, who tell of unusual and unwarranted scrutiny by National Insurance Board (NIB) officials, illegal fees levied for the treatment of children in the public healthcare system, and denial of access to a public school, to name just a few cases.

It seems Mitchell’s policy is being interpreted as tacit approval for the free expression of a kind of bigotry and xenophobia that has simmered below the surface of this society for many years.

Try though he may to obscure the facts and deflect the blame, Mitchell’s government is ultimately responsible for all consequences which flow from its ill-conceived and dangerous new stance on immigration enforcement; a stance that is also causing irreparable damage to the reputation of The Bahamas around the world.

If Mitchell will not answer for what is happening, the GBHRA calls on Prime Minister Christie to relieve him of the immigration portfolio, and bestow it upon someone with the foresight and clarity of thought to see where this disastrous policy threatens to take us.

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