Bahamas Immmigration Injustice?

Sunday 16th, February 2014 / 11:59 Published by

Bahamas Immmigration injustice?

This is a story about an injustice/misuse of power that happened to a long time employee. It is not unique to me, others like it have been reported In the local press, many are not.

The The Immigration Act, Sec 9, provides that:

“If any Immigration Officer or police officer has reasonable cause to suspect that any person, other than a citizen of The Bahamas or a person who is a permanent resident, has committed an offence under this Act or any regulations and if it appears to him to be necessary to arrest such person immediately in order to secure that the ends of justice for the purposes of this Act shall not be defeated, he may arrest such person without warrant.”

My gardener is Haitian with a work permit. Whilst on my property he was sighted by two immigration officers who came onto my property to arrest him. He did not have his work permit at hand but it was in his apartment about 20 yards from where they detained him. His request  to be released in order to retrieve his work permit was refused. Instead he ended up spending a night at the detention center.

In such a case, what “reasonable cause” does the Immigration officer have to suspect the gardener was committing an offense under the Act?

In such a case, what “reasonable cause” does the Immigration officer have to suspect the gardener was committing an offense under the Act?

Are we saying ethnicity alone is reasonable cause?

Are Immigration officers not aware that there is a real possibility that the ethnic person is legally employed?

And how was justice served by denying the gardener the opportunity to prove he is NOT committing an offense?

In addition to a recent report in the newspapers about the detention of a senior Swiss Bank manager, I know of one other similar strong armed tactic that happened to a Canadian teacher when she was a passenger in my grand daughter’s car.

Immigration officers by law have the power to arrest and detain any person they have reasonable cause to suspect to be acting unlawfully.

Regrettably some immigration officers lack the discretion to respect the fundamental principle of innocence until proven guilty. To deny a person a few minutes to prove his innocence is an injustice.

There are two problems here:

  1. A lack of respect for the basic constitutional right not to be unjustly deprived of liberty, and
  2. The  Immigration Act gives them a “discretion”  – “if it appears to them to be necessary to immediately arrest….”The latter appears to be something taken literally by some Immigration officers, without regarding the “reasonable cause” pre-requisite. The Act gives them a discretion which not all are able to exercise properly.There is surely a better way to address the illegal immigration problem without resorting to strong armed tactics like the ones above. Shouldn’t the “suspect” have an opportunity to get his work permit, when it is in the vicinity?

    Respect for law is endangered when the application of law involves strong armed tactics reminiscent of Nazi style tactics.

    The preservation of freedom requires speaking out against such injustices when the facts are known.

By:  Concerned Citizen


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