06 March 2009
|ua 65/09||Fear for safety / ill-treatment|
|Bahamas||Detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre|
A number of recent media reports in the Bahamas have indicated that people being held at the country’s immigration detention centre are being ill-treated. Amnesty International is concerned for their safety.
The Carmichael Road Detention Centre, which is located in the capital, Nassau, houses foreign nationals alleged by the authorities to have breached immigration laws, including asylum-seekers, some of whom are believed to be children. A journalist from a local newspaper gained access to the facility on 26 February and managed to speak to ten detainees who described the conditions of their detention. A Dominican national who was detained on 24 February claimed to have been badly beaten by guards who were trying to extract information from him. The beating caused him to cough up blood and he was repeatedly struck on his genitals. Three Cuban men have reportedly been on hunger strike since 25 February in protest at the ill-treatment they have received and their conditions of detention. One of them claimed to have been severely beaten leading him to lose several toenails and fingernails. The detainees claimed that all those held at the Centre, including women and children are marched outside three times a day in order to be counted by heavily armed guards who push them with the butts of their guns. There were also claims that there were severe problems with overcrowding with some detainees forced to sleep on concrete floors.
The Bahamian authorities have publicly denied the abuses but said they would investigate. Amnesty International, however, is concerned that any investigation would be conducted internally without independent review and oversight.
Asylum seekers and those deemed by the authorities to be irregular migrants, including women and children are currently detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. In most cases they are subsequently returned to their country of origin. There have been frequent reports over a number of years of poor conditions at the Centre, including beatings and overcrowding. There are also allegations that some asylumseekers have not been granted access to a fair and effective refugee determination procedure.
In October 2004 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment raised serious concerns about conditions of detention in the Carmichael Detention Centre. This followed the receipt of several allegations of beatings by guards, including that of several Haitians on 9 October 2004 following the escape of a number of them from the centre. While under review at the UN Universal Periodic Review in December 2008, the Bahamas promised to respond “without delay” to concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur on the conditions of detention in the Carmichael Detention Centre.
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