The government of the Bahamas has said it will establish a task force to study allegations by illegal migrants that they are being abused in detention.
Posted on Tue, Jan. 25, 2005
BY JOE MOZINGO
Bahamas officials plan to convene a task force to look into renewed allegations that guards abused illegal Cuban and Haitian migrants at a government detention center near Nassau.
‘‘The government is to convene an inter-ministerial task force,’’ said government spokesman Al Billete in a press statement. ``The allegations are not new, but will be the subject of further study by the task force.’‘
The government already looked into allegations of abuse at the Carmichael Detention Center made in several recent Amnesty International reports and said it found no evidence of mistreatment.
The day after the findings were made public in December, soldiers and undocumented Cuban migrants at the center clashed.
A barrack caught fire and was destroyed in the melee.
Details of what happened are unclear. Twenty-two Cubans are now in prison accused of arson for their role in the violence.
On Sunday, The Herald reported on the Carmichael Center, after a reporter on a government-approved visit to the center and Fox Hill received inmate complaints of abuses.
The detainees interviewed alleged that soldiers regularly beat them, withheld medical treatment and at times denied them food.
The claims of abuse echoed those made in the Amnesty reports, which in addition documented allegations that women were raped by soldiers, two men were subjected to mock executions and others were forced to eat off the ground.
The Bahamas government reacted angrily to The Herald report.
‘‘The article . . . is not a proper description of what happens’’ at the detention center, Billete wrote.
The task force is to include representatives from the Department of Immigration, the security forces, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the attorney general’s office.
The government has been beleaguered by the flow of illegal migrants through the Bahamas.
Immigration officials said they believe the United States and other nations should help pay for better facilities if they believe migrants are being poorly treated.