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Bahamas government statement relating to detained Cuban nationals
Aug 8, 2013 - 8:44:39 PM

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6th August 2013

Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration

On The Detention Centre

In light of the recent events relating to the detained Cuban nationals in the Bahamas, the Government of The Bahamas wishes to clarify the position and explain the way forward.   

Firstly, we wish to point out that the Government of The Bahamas continues to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in processing asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with United Nations treaties, customary international law,  and the laws of the Bahamas.

It should also be made very clear that The Bahamas Government does not condone, incite or support the cruel and inhumane treatment of any detainee in any facility in The Bahamas, and such treatment is not tolerated of any of its agencies.

We are advised that officials of the United States have reviewed and are currently adjudicating the cases of four of the detainees to determine whether they can be accepted and resettled into the United States.   In three of these cases,  it appears that the detainees had previously been permanent residents of the United States of America, and the fourth case was deemed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to be eligible for residence in a third country.

The asylum seekers are only temporarily detained in prison because they were engaged in disorderly and violent behaviour at the detention centre, and their removal from that facility was necessary both for their protection and the protection and safety of others at the detention centre.  The Government of The Bahamas is prepared to release them forthwith if they are accepted by the United States, or if a  third country wishes to accept them.

Meanwhile they remained detained as indicated, although a Supreme Court Judge is set to review the matter, as a result of a habeas corpus application which was filed on their behalf.   That application has been adjourned upon the request of their attorney to await the decision of the United States authorities.

  The Government is engaged in active discussions with the United States government on the issues relating to this matter.

It is also engaged with the Government of the Republic of Cuba on this specific issue and migration issues generally, and high level talks are due to take place with that Government shortly.

Discussions are also being held with  legislators at the federal level in the United States as well as at the state and local levels in  Florida, which embraces civic and community leaders.   It is hoped that this dialogue can help to expedite the US’ acceptance of these persons or facilitate their relocation to a third country.

Investigations continue into the allegations made by the protestors and the detainees, and the Government proposes that, moving forward, the preliminary investigations which have commenced will be augmented by a formal investigation headed by a former Justice of the Court of Appeal and a senior member of the religious fraternity.   We expect that this review will commence shortly and that a report will be made to us as soon as possible.   We will review the report and act accordingly, and take any punitive or disciplinary action as deemed necessary.

The Government has also agreed to the visit to the Detention Centre of a senior United States official, Mr. Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.   

The public will be kept informed of developments in this matter.

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