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News : Local Last Updated: Feb 19, 2019 - 12:51:32 PM

Rights Bahamas:Immigration Department admits to kidnapping
By Rights Bahamas
Feb 18, 2019 - 8:57:56 PM

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Despite their protests to the contrary, The Bahamas Department of immigration has, in a release today, effectively admitted to kidnapping a man in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera.

Their excuse for stuffing this individual into the trunk of a vehicle against his will is woefully inept and holds no water. The department claims the man was "cautioned and arrested after he was unable to provide the officers with identification showing his legal status in The Bahamas." This is a clear admission that his detention was totally unlawful.

There is absolutely no legal requirement for members of the public to travel with any documents whatsoever, nor do officers have the right to stop anyone and demand that they produce papers. The “island-wide apprehension exercise” to which the release refers is likewise illegal. Everyone in The Bahamas has a right to freedom of movement and the presumption of innocence. Immigration have no right to traverse any island treating everyone as if they are guilty and demanding that they prove their innocence.

Quite frankly, it is shocking that the officers who drafted that statement could be so woefully ignorant of the laws governing their own department, though this lack of understanding does perhaps shed some light on the unlawful actions and serial human rights abuses committed by their colleagues on an almost daily basis.

For their information, kidnapping is defined as: “the action of abducting someone and holding them captive.” In the absence of a legal right to interfere with this man’s Constitutionally-protected freedom of movement, this is exactly what occurred. There is no other name for it.

Once again, we strenuously urge Immigration Minister Brent Symonette to rein in his barbaric, out-of-control Enforcement Unit and implement a policy of lawful, rational and humane behavour towards individuals who are all innocent until proven guilty. 

The international reputation of the Bahamas will continue to suffer until the Immigration Department and all other law enforcement entities learn how to obey the law.

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