NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A United Nations representative is expected to meet with Bahamian authorities today over claims of “violence and abuse” among certain law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The meeting follows the visit of UN Senior Human Rights Advisor George Abu Al Zulof on November 10-15, according to UN Human Rights Office Deputy Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.
The government invited the United Nations Human Rights Office to visit The Bahamas to discuss human rights matter related to deportation, repatriations and other related issues on October 30.
“The purpose of this mission to Abaco was to assess the current human rights situation in all affected areas with a special focus on free and equal access to humanitarian assistance, including access to health and education; to assess the impact of immigration operations including detention and deportations in Abaco on the ability of humanitarian agencies to provide impartial assistance to affected population; and to verify worrying data we received from different sources about violence and abuse used by immigration officers and defense forces,” Shamdasani said in a statement.
The advisor’s trip included visits to shelters, hurricane-affected areas in Abaco, and interviews with scores of storm victims and residents of shantytown areas, such as the Farm, where the UN body said hundreds of people continue to reside.
Shamdasani said the UN body is prepared to provide technical assistance to the government with the aim of “improving the human rights situation”.
“We are fully aware of the challenges caused by Hurricane Dorian and welcome the reconstruction efforts by the Bahamian authorities,” she said.
“As we mentioned in our press briefing on 18 October 2019, in the aftermath of natural disasters it is particularly important to ensure that no one is left behind and that the opportunity to rebuild together is placed at the forefront.
Shamdasani continued: “In this vein, particular attention must be paid to the most vulnerable, marginalized communities to ensure they do not suffer from discrimination in accessing their fundamental rights to food, water, shelter and other basic needs and that the state ensures the human rights of all individuals affected.
“We stand ready to provide technical assistance to the government in this regard.”