Amnesty Int’l. Concerned Over Cuban Debacle

Human rights activists have questioned how thorough an investigation into allegations of abuse at Carmichael Road detention centre would be if those who claim to have been victims are facing deportation.

They have also called on Bahamian authorities to investigate allegations made about the centre “in the most transparent way possible and make public the outcomes.”

Human rights group Amnesty International spoke out after the FNM revealed details about the alleged abuses at the centre.

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis said on Wednesday that on May 20 there was an attempted escape from the centre by seven Cuban detainees.

He said: “This escape attempt was prevented. As punishment for the attempted escape, at least five detainees were physically abused to a severe degree.

“The abuse was so significant that three of the detainees had to be taken to the PMH for treatment. One person was detained and two others returned to the centre.”

Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell said the government had already indicated there is an investigation into the allegations. “When the investigations are complete, the government will act,” he said.

Amnesty told The Tribune: “The Bahamian authorities repeatedly committed to investigate the allegations, however we strongly call on the authorities to carry out the investigation thoroughly and independently, and bring to justice those found responsible for the alleged abuses.

“We insist that, given the gravity of the allegations, the government should consider allowing human rights organisations to participate in an independent investigation.

“Furthermore we urge the authorities to make public the outcomes of any investigation related to the ill-treatment allegations and also to the general conditions of detention at the centre.”

On Wednesday eight Cubans were deported from the centre to Havana. This comes after 24 were deported on August 16, including eight involved in filming a cell-phone video showing an alleged guard at the centre kicking detainees on the ground.

Amnesty said it was continuing to monitor the current procedure of deporting Cuban migrants in the Bahamas and the investigation into allegations of ill-treatment at the centre.

Amnesty added: “On the current procedures of repatriation, Amnesty International is not able to say whether the screening procedure to assess the refugee status of the Cuban migrants was irregular or not.

“However if an investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment has been opened as stated, questions remain about how thorough the investigation would be if the individuals who claim to have been victims of abuses are currently facing deportation.

“This point again shows the importance for the authorities to carry out this investigation in the most transparent way possible and make public the outcomes.”
Amnesty said the recent events at Carmichael Road detention centre supported its call to open the centre to independent visitors to assess the conditions of detention.

“Particularly Amnesty International calls on the Bahamian government to extend an invitation to representatives of Bahamian civil society, especially local human rights organisations, to visit and fully investigate the conditions of detention,” it said.

Source: The Tribune 242