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Added: Jacquita Marinelli - Date: 17.05.2022 04:40 - Views: 45029 - Clicks: 4876

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. The Royal Bahamas Police Force maintains internal security. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is primarily responsible for external security but also provides security at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for migrants and performs some domestic security functions, such as guarding embassies. Both report to the minister of national security. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no reports of ificant abuses by the security forces.

ificant human rights issues included degrading treatment of prisoners and harsh prison conditions. Libel is criminalized, although it was not enforced during the year. The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who commit human rights abuses. There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings during the year. In a case in which an off-duty police officer allegedly shot and killed a man in Exuma District, the Royal Bahamas Police Force dismissed the officer and took him into custody. He was charged with manslaughter and denied bail.

The constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. At times citizens and visitors alleged instances of cruel or degrading treatment of criminal suspects or of migrants by police or immigration officials. Individuals detained in jails complained they were denied access to medical care and food and were degraded through name-calling and homophobic slurs. Impunity was not a ificant problem.

Conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for migrants were adequate for short-term detention only. Juvenile pretrial detainees were held with adults at the BDCS remand center, a minimum-security section of the prison.

The government stated it complied with its legal obligations to provide for showering, exercise, doctor visits, lawyer visits, and visitation. Among male inmates, only those in the medium- and minimum-security wards were allowed to exercise daily with the exception of weekends and holidays. Due to COVID, authorities limited nonprison food vendor sales and suspended meals brought by family members. Prisoners reported infrequent access to clean drinking water and an inability to store potable water due to a lack of storage containers.

Maximum-security cells for men measured approximately six feet by 10 feet and held up to six persons with no mattresses, running water, or toilet facilities. Inmates removed human waste by bucket. Prisoners complained of the lack of beds and bedding. Some inmates developed bedsores from lying on the bare ground. Sanitation was a general problem, with cells infested with rats, maggots, and insects. Ventilation was also a problem, and some inmates complained of mold and mildew. The government claimed to provide prisoners in maximum-security areas access to toilets and showers one hour a day.

The availability of clearly labeled, prescribed pharmaceuticals and access to physician care was sporadic. Prisoners consistently complained that prison authorities did not take their health concerns seriously. Sick male inmates and male inmates with disabilities had inadequate access to the medical center. Absent outside support and adequate prison care, the inmate died in his cell. In February a correctional officer beat a prisoner, causing a leg injury that required surgery.

The government stated it charged the officer with use of unnecessary force and referred the matter to a disciplinary tribunal at the Department of Correctional Services. At the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in June, a group of detained Haitian migrants, frustrated at their prolonged detention, damaged fencing and conducted a short hunger strike.

Ten days after the protest, however, the government repatriated 75 migrants to Haiti, the first deportation since March. Eight asylum seekers remained detained for approximately one year while they awaited a government decision on their cases. Administration: The Internal Affairs Unit and a disciplinary tribunal at the BDCS facility are responsible for investigating any credible allegations of abuse or substandard conditions.

Despite media reports of abuse at BDCS, the government stated there were no instances of abuse or mistreatment. Independent Monitoring: Human rights organizations reported the government did not grant requests for access to the maximum-security block of the BDCS facility. Improvements: The government took steps to improve prison conditions, including by introducing biodegradable bags for proper waste disposal, constructing bunk beds, and installing flooring, air conditioning, and masonry in parts of the maximum-security area.

In addition inmates noted repairs to water flow during the year and a reopened prison library. At the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, the government replaced floor tiles in all dormitories. The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these requirements.

The constitution provides for the right of persons to challenge the lawfulness of their arrest or detention in court, although this process sometimes took several years. Police officers generally obtained judicially issued warrants when required for arrests. Serious cases, including suspected narcotics or firearms offenses, do not require warrants where probable cause exists. The law states authorities must charge a suspect within 48 hours of arrest. Arrested persons must appear before a magistrate within 48 hours or by the next business day for cases arising on weekends and holidays to hear the charges against them, although some persons on remand claimed they were not brought before a magistrate within the hour period.

Police may apply for a hour extension upon simple request to the court and for longer extensions with sufficient showing of need. The government respected the right to a judicial determination of the legality of arrests. The constitution provides the right for those arrested or detained to retain an attorney at their own expense; volunteer legal aides were available only for serious felonies being tried in the Supreme Court. Access to legal representation was inconsistent, including for detainees at the detention center. Minors receive legal assistance only when charged under offenses before the Supreme Court; otherwise, there is no official representation of minors before the courts.

A functioning bail system exists. Individuals who were unable to post bail were held on remand until they faced trial. Judges sometimes authorized cash bail for foreigners arrested on minor charges; however, foreign suspects generally preferred to plead guilty and pay a fine. As of July there were 73 complaints against police for abusing detainees, compared with 72 such complaints during same period in As a result of investigations, two officers were reduced in rank and one was required to re. Other actions were pending the completion of investigations.

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Pretrial Detention: Attorneys and other prisoner advocates continued to complain of excessive pretrial detention due to the failure of the criminal justice system to try even the most serious cases in a timely manner. Authorities released selected suspects awaiting trial with an ankle bracelet on the understanding the person would adhere to strict and person-specific guidelines defining allowable movement within the country.

Of the 1, inmates, 37 percent inmates were in pretrial detention. The Department of Immigration detained irregular migrants, primarily Haitians, while arranging for them to leave the country or until the migrant obtained legal status.

The average length of detention varied ificantly by nationality, by the willingness of other governments to accept their nationals back in a timely manner, and by the availability of funds to pay for repatriation. Authorities aimed to repatriate Haitians within one to two weeks, but the COVID pandemic impeded routine repatriation flights.

The government continued to enforce the law requiring noncitizens to carry their passport and proof of legal status in the country. Some international organizations alleged that enforcement focused primarily on individuals of Haitian origin, that the rights of children were not respected, and that expedited deportations did not allow time for due process.

There were also widespread credible reports that immigration officials solicited and accepted bribes to prevent detention or to grant release.

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One individual, claiming he was born in The Bahamas, said authorities apprehended him and held him at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for migrants before he bribed several officials to release him. Activists for the Haitian community acknowledged alleged victims filed few formal complaints with government authorities and attributed this to a widespread perception of impunity for police and immigration authorities and fear of reprisal. The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Procedural shortcomings and trial delays were problems. The courts were unable to keep pace with criminal cases, and there was a continued backlog. The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy the right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges, to a fair and free public trial without undue delay, to be present at their trial, to have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense, to receive free assistance of an interpreter, and to present their own witnesses and evidence.

Although defendants generally have the right to confront adverse witnesses, in some cases the law allows witnesses to testify anonymously against accused perpetrators in order to protect themselves from intimidation or retribution. Defendants have the right to not be compelled to testify or confess guilt and the right to appeal. Defendants may hire an attorney of their choice. The government provided legal representation only for serious felonies being tried in the Supreme Court, leaving large s of defendants without adequate legal representation.

Lack of representation contributed to excessive pretrial detention, as some accused lacked the means to advance their cases toward trial. In essence the government-ased social worker tasked with safeguarding the welfare of the child is also tasked with recommending an appropriate punishment for the. A ificant backlog of cases was awaiting trial, with delays reportedly lasting years.

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The government suspended jury trials due to the COVID pandemic, hindering its efforts to address the backlog. Once cases went to trial, they were often further delayed due to poor case and court management, such as inaccurate handling or presentation of evidence and inaccurate scheduling of witnesses, jury members, and defendants for testimony.

The judiciary took concrete steps toward procuring and implementing a digital case-management system to help alleviate the backlog. There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and there is access to a court to file lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations.

The constitution prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions. Immigration enforcement activities slowed greatly due to the COVID pandemic, but there were sporadic reports of abuse.

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email: [email protected] - phone:(396) 331-4593 x 4933

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: The Bahamas