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2004-12-13 16:56:36

Call For Inquiry Into Conditions At Bahamas Detention Center

Amnesty International officials claim they received reports that several people, including women and children, were severely beaten with batons...

LONDON, England - Global rights body, Amnesty International, is calling on the government of the Bahamas to establish an independent commission of inquiry into conditions at the Carmichael Detention Center.

The call comes amidst reports of the possible use of excessive force by law enforcement officials during a fire and confrontation at the Carmichael Detention Centre last Thursday, in which 9 detainees and 11 soldiers were injured.

Amnesty International officials claim they received reports that several people, including women and children, were severely beaten with batons and that police prevented detainees from leaving the facility once the fire started.

But authorities have stated that soldiers fired rubber rounds to restore order after detainees tried to secure and subsequently set fire to a room.

The action reportedly followed what appeared to be attempts by immigration staff and soldiers to remove Cuban detainees for deportation.

"The inquiry must be able to make recommendations, arising from its findings, on how the organization of immigration detention conditions could be changed or improved," Amnesty officials stated on Friday.

The organization also urged both the government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to ensure, in their response to yesterday's incident, the full protection of asylum-seekers from forcible return and discrimination.

The Carmichael Detention Centre houses foreign nationals alleged by the authorities to have breached immigration laws, including asylum-seekers.

The islands' Minister of Labor and Immigration, Minister Vincent Peet, said last week steps must now be taken to review the overall management of the facility. –

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