Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 18th 2014 Contents A35
Thursday, December 18, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
WASHINGTON---The Bahamas government has
defended its immigration policy that critics claim
is "unconstitutional" and dehumanising.
The policy which came into effect on November
1 calls on foreigners to show evidence that they
have permission to live or work in the country.
Addressing the Permanent Council of the
Organisation of American States (OAS) on Tuesday,
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred
Mitchell said that he wanted to debunk the alle-
gations made against the new policy, noting that
the reputation of The Bahamas was being tar-
"Nothing is more important to us than that in
the international arena, whether in the hemisphere
or in the sub region or around the world. Rep-
utation is everything. The respect which we have
around the world depends upon our reputation."
He said the country, with a population of less
than 400,000 thrives off its reputation.
"Tourism is our main business. People come
to the Bahamas as tourists because they believe
and perceive that it is better in the Bahamas, and
it is," he said, adding that Nassau would be "eter-
nally vigilant in protecting our reputation: cor-
recting untruths and misperceptions where they
exist and of course ensuring that within our bor-
ders and in our external relations we so conduct
ourselves that we to the extent that our resources
permit adhere to the highest standards and best
practices as set by the international communi-
ty".Mitchell told the OAS that his presence here
was to re-affirm his country's commitment to
the principles of the rule of law, due process and
the international treaties on migration.
"This assurance goes out to friend and foe alike
and has become necessary because of the mis-
information that has been circulated by two
innocuous administrative measures that were
announced by The Bahamas, which took effect
on 1st November 2014."
He said that the policies were contained in a
one page document which advised the public that
work permit applications would not be accepted
for those people who did not have legal status in
the Bahamas without them first being certified
as being seen by one of our consular officers in
their home country or in the nearest office to
their home country.
He said the Perry Christie government had also
decided that all non-nationals who live in the
Bahamas would have to get and hold the passport
of their nationality and obtain a residency permit,
which would be evidence that they have the right
to live and work in the Bahamas.
"These policies should not have been a surprise
to anyone. The political party to which I belong
announced that we would be perusing immigration
reforms prior to our election to office in 2012.
We announced that changes were coming in poli-
cies in the first budget debate following the general
election in 2012," he said.---CMC
WASHINGTON---The United States is calling
for elections to be held in Haiti as soon as
possible after prime minister Laurent
Lamothe resigned over the weekend due to
the ongoing deteriorating political situation
in the French-speaking Caribbean Commu-
nity (Caricom) country.
"Elections are essential for Haiti's demo-
cratic development and for continued progress
in post-earthquake reconstruction and devel-
opment," said US Secretary of State John
Kerry in a statement.
"We commend the work of Haiti's pres-
idential advisory commission and welcome
its recommendations as a basis to encourage
Late November, President Michel Martelly
announced the establishment of the com-
mission as opposition demonstrators took to
the streets to force him out of office.
Martelly has been holding talks with several
social and political groups in a bid to pave
the way for the holding of the long-delayed
election to renew two thirds of the 30-mem-
ber Senate, the entire Lower Chamber and
hundreds of local government bodies.
Out of the 30 senate-members, only 20
remain in office, and amendments to an exist-
ing electoral law are required to facilitate the
But six opposition legislators have consis-
tently refused to attend the meetings of the
Senate preventing the body from getting the
required 16-member quorum needed to hold
Political observers note that by January 12,
next year, the Haitian parliament will become
dysfunctional with only ten senators left,
while 16 is required to hold a session.
In his statement, Kerry commended
Martelly for his "courageous efforts to resolve
the deadlock and for his decision to accept
the commission's recommendations.
"Prime Minister Lamothe's announcement
of his resignation is evidence of the Haitian
executive branch?s commitment to resolve
the situation," he said.
On Sunday, Lamothe announced his res-
ignation and those of several ministers in the
wake of violent anti-government protests
and the commission's call for him to demit
Kerry noted that Haiti's parliamentary and
political leaders have also "worked in earnest
to maintain the integrity of Haiti's democratic
US calls for early elections in Haiti
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