McCartney encourages govt. to continue repatriations
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Minister of Immigration Branville McCartney suggested the government should carry out its mandate on shantytowns, and deal with consequences of the court later.
McCartney told Eyewitness News Online he believes the death toll on Abaco would be much lower if the government had followed through with its plan to demolish those unregulated communities.
“If the government says ‘listen, we are going to demolish the shantytowns or you cannot come back to commit an illegal act’, I will fight that in court, but I will do what I have to do,” he said.
“I will fight that on the back end of the court. Let the court slap me, but I will carry out the mandate and that mandate, which is the fundamental principle of governance, is the protection of its citizens and its country, I will do that.”
Last year, the government announced it planned to demolish shantytowns throughout the country, but it was blocked by an August 2018 injunction handed down by the Supreme Court
injunction preventing the demolish.
The government has since applied to have that injunction lifted, and made the case that the majority of shantytowns in Abaco have been destroyed.
McCartney said while he understands the humanitarian considerations surrounding undocumented storm victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the government has a fundamental responsibility to carry out its mandate and protect the nation and its citizens.
“I understand the international approach, the human rights [considerations], but you know
persons who are here illegal for quite some time, they have been given an opportunity to rectify their status or to leave,” McCartney told Eyewitness News Online.
“That goes back to the end of last year when this government indicated that they were going to
be moving aggressively in apprehending those who are here illegally.
“Had that been carried out, I don’t think we would have had as many deaths that has been
unreported in Abaco in particular. From my firm understanding, there have been many deaths
in the shantytowns in Abaco as a result of the hurricane and unfortunately many of those
persons were undocumented.”
Dorian, which decimated portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama, displaced thousands and killed at least 71 people.
It remains unclear how many have been reported missing.
McCartney said as an attorney for almost three decades, he understands the law, but the
government has a fundamental responsibility to protect its country and citizens.
He said the government should act to preserve those fundamental principles “posthaste and deal with the law as it comes”.
There has been push back from international human rights organization, including the United
Nations, over the government’s ongoing repatriation exercises nearly four months after the
The government initially suspended repatriations of undocumented migrants following the storm, but resumed deportations in the weeks that followed.
McCartney said: “I understand the humanity of the situation after the hurricane, but you know, our country is not in a position, and it has not been for many, many years to support illegality in connection with persons coming to the country illegal.
“It has cost us tremendously from a social services point of view, from a national security point of view and from the health services point of view. It has cost this country millions and millions of dollars and we cannot support it.
He added: “So, something has to be done swiftly. And I would certainly suggest that the
government do what is necessary, and although they may have pressures coming from
international bodies, they must always do what is right and beneficial to the Bahamian people
and those who have a right to live here.”