A political blog about Bahamian politics in The Bahamas, Bahamian Politicans - and the entire Bahamas political lot. Bahamian Blogger Dennis Dames keeps you updated on the political news and views throughout the islands of The Bahamas without fear or favor.
Bahamian Politicians and the Bahamian Political Arena: Updates one Post at a time on Bahamas Politics and Bahamas Politicans.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
The issue of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian descent living in The Bahamas
Call To Stop Discrimination
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas government must work
to address discriminatory practices towards persons of Haitian descent
who apply for regularisation, an official from the Haitian Embassy said
Nobert, first secretary of Legal Affairs at the Haitian Embassy,
charged that the “real problem” faced by the Haitian Bahamian community
in the Bahamas stems from the absence of a clear legal framework to
response to a panel discussion hosted by the College of the Bahamas on
the complex issue of statelessness within the Bahamian context, Mr
Nobert challenged that the use of the term “stateless” to describe
unregularised persons of Haitian descent was “inappropriate” given
Haiti’s citizenship laws.
Mr Nobert said there was an inherent “hypocrisy” in the Bahamas’
handling of citizenship that allowed for a peculiar stratification of
rights, adding “either you’re a part of a country, or you’re not”.
by Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, associate professor in the School of English
Studies, presenters focused on the effectiveness of citizenship and
related immigration policy, and its application in respect to Haitian
migrants and persons of Haitian descent living in the Bahamas.
The panel discussion is the second of its kind for the college, which hosted the first panel on the issue in 2012.
student Fiona Joseph argued that the regularisation process has
deferred the dreams of many persons of Haitian descent born in the
Bahamas, who are forced to wait until they are 18 to begin a lengthy
Joseph gave a personal account of her regularisation process as an
individual born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents in her presentation
entitled, Stateless and (Ba)Haitian in The Bahamas.
admitted that she did not apply for Haitian citizenship because it
would have further complicated her bid for Bahamian citizenship by
forcing her to seek naturalisation instead.
this month, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell confirmed to The
Tribune that the government does not issue certificates of identity.
said: “I do not believe that there is a large group of stateless
people. What we have is people born to foreign parents who don’t want to
get the passport of their parents. We have stopped issuing certificates
his presentation entitled “Statelessness: Real or Imagined?” Dr
Bethell-Bennett charged that while states argue over whether or not
statelessness exists, and what type, the reality remains that a large
group of people in the Bahamas are trapped in a “grey zone”,
disfranchised and unable to access basic rights attached to citizenship.
large population of unregularised persons represents a critical
national security issue, according to Dr Ian Strachan, COB’s vice
president of Advancement, who stated that progress on the issue has been
stalled because of citizenship’s value as a political bargaining chip.
his presentation, “Ugly Politics: Haitians and Power in the Bahamas”,
Dr Strachan argued that immigration policy and procedures have been used
for political advancement over the last 30 years, perpetuating negative
stereotypes towards persons of Haitian descent while exploiting the
migrant community during the election period.
Stephen Aranha, assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences,
provided a critical review of citizenship as defined by the Bahamas
constitution, and the recommendations given by the 2012 Constitutional
Haitians represent the largest migrant community, Mr Aranha argued that
Immigration processes in the Bahamas were arbitrary, and open to legal
uncertainty for all migrants.
constitution affords individuals born of a “native born” Haitian parent
automatic entitlement to citizenship, if they choose to accept it,
according to Mr Nobert, who encouraged individuals of Haitian lineage to
seek assistance from the embassy regardless of their status.
presenters argued that the law is not clear on whether or not this
right is passed on to third generation descendants whose parents were
not born in Haiti, or have no legal documentation.
called for the government to either lower the age requirement for
persons to begin applications for citizenship, or do an overhaul of the
requirements to bring them in line with migration realities.
Nobert’s comments echo concerns raised by the United Nations Human
Rights Council, most recently the need for strengthened reporting
mechanisms and statistical research on migrant communities in the