Nassau, Bahamas - The
following is the Communication by Fred Mitchell, MP, Minister of Foreign
Affairs and Immigration delivered in the House of Assembly on July
have the honour this morning to announce that the government proposes
at the first reading stage today to introduce two amendments to existing
amendment seeks to amend Section 30 of the Immigration Act to allow for
a longer period for spousal permits. The law as it presently reads
which applies to the spouses of Bahamian citizens will permit the Board
to grant a spousal permit for an indefinite period.
will still be able to apply for Permanent Residence with the right to
work. The spouses of Bahamian men will still have their constitutional
entitlement to apply for citizenship of The Bahamas, without having to
renounce their citizenship of origin.
amendment is in fulfilment of the promise in our charter for governance
on the question of spousal permits. This should relieve many of the
processing issues and delays accompanying applications for spouses who
apply for a legal status in The Bahamas in order to reside and work
am authorised also to say that the government is committed to removing
the constitutional anomaly which exists with regard to women and the
ability to pass on their citizenship to their children.
addition, the government proposes to amend those provisions in the
constitution with regard to discrimination against women, so that it is
clear that gender cannot be a reason to discriminate against an
individual. This will mean that Article 26 to the constitution and the
preamble to Article 15 of the constitution will have to be altered and
the matter put to the country in a referendum. We trust that the
proposed changes when they come will receive the unanimous consent of
will bring The Bahamas in line with other western countries and remove
one of the last vestiges of formal discrimination against women.
commending the draft amendment to the Immigration Act with regard to
spouses, we hope that this is seen as a first step toward ensuring that
spouses and women in particular have equality of opportunity in this
I wish to say that I propose to move for first reading later today of a
Bill to Amend the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act.
The bill is a clarifying and enabling amendment.
seeks to amend Section 6 of the existing act. That act creates the
Minister of Foreign Affairs as a Corporation sole. The Governor General
under Section 6 of the act is empowered to make regulations under the
act. The amendments seek to do two things.
first amendment is to Section 6(a) which deletes the present section
and seeks by the new section to make it clear that Foreign Service
Orders can be implemented and what those foreign service orders will do.
the new regulations or Foreign Service orders come into force it is our
expectation that a proper foreign service will be implemented with its
own discrete career path for employees of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs at home and abroad.
second amendment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act is to Section 6
(c) which will allow for the establishing, codifying and regulating the
issuance and terms and conditions of visas for the entry of persons who
are not citizens or permanent residents of The Bahamas.
expect that the regulations will be laid for the issuance of visas by
the Fall of 2012. This is to put the issuance of visas on a transparent
and more public and objective basis. At the moment, the issuance of
visas is governed by an agglomeration of conventions, written and
unwritten rules and the inherent power of the government to regulate who
enters The Bahamas. This is designed to put the issuance of visas on a
more formal basis.
I commend these changes to the House.