Rights Bahamas says immigration corruption claims must be fully investigated

Rights Bahamas says immigration corruption claims must be fully investigated
Fred Smith, QC.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Rights Bahamas on Wednesday called for the Department of Immigration “to be subjected to a full and independent investigation in light of the shocking revelations from an ongoing FBI probe of brazen corruption within its ranks.”

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claimed that it has more than six hours of audio recordings between Haitian-Bahamian Edward Israel Saintil and an immigration officer discussing bribery payments made to senior officials to secure permits approvals.

In a statement issued yesterday, Rights Bahamas said they and other activists have received numerous claims of bribery, extortion and blackmail at all levels of the Immigration Department.

“This includes sworn statements by victims which are in the public domain as part of court actions against the department for wrongful detention. As far as we know, these allegations have never been investigated. Certainly, they have all gone unpunished,” the Rights Bahamas statement read.

Rights Bahamas said if even a portion of these claims hold water, it would allegedly mean that hundreds, if not thousands of migrants, suspected migrants and their families have been victims of an organized, well-oiled machine for the collection of illicit profits through bribes, as well as by means of threats, intimidation, coercion and illegal detention.

“According to some allegations, some high ranking officers have been implicated,” Rights Bahamas said.

The group called for the immediate formation of a Special Task Force to fully investigate any and all claims of corruption within the Bahamas Department of Immigration.

“This body should be led by the Royal Bahamas Police Force and also include migrants’ rights activists, human rights attorneys and possibly, anti-corruption experts from abroad.

“Let the chips fall where they may,” the Rights Bahamas statement concluded.