NASSAU, Bahamas, Monday December 22, 2014, CMC – The Bahamas government says it is prepared to let the “chips fall where they may” after an immigration officer was placed on administrative leave with immediate effect “pending investigation of a sexual assault alleged by a detainee who is a Jamaican citizen”.
Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell told a news conference that while he would not speak “more to this matter” he was nonetheless prepared to allow the “chips (to) fall where they may”.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said that “a diplomatic note … will be sent to the Jamaican Foreign Minister and the Minister will speak to his counterpart in Jamaica shortly” on the issue.
The statement said that Mitchell had already spoken to Honorary Consul of Jamaica to The Bahamas “to convey his deep regret at these allegations and assured the Consul that the matter will be thoroughly investigated”.
The statement said that the matter is also before the police and that “all necessary steps including prosecution, suspension and dismissal from the public service will be applied where warranted.
“….the Ministry wishes to indicate that it does not condone or sanction in any way, shape or form abuse of any kind by any officer of the department. It will not be tolerated and the strongest measures will be taken where there are violations of the rights of people.”
Mitchell told reporters that the government will “not countenance any malfeasance on the part of individuals who are a part of this department” announcing that a criminal investigation will be launched into another matter in which money deposited by an inmate at the detention center had disappeared.
“The Government and the Prime Minister will not countenance the undermining of the integrity of the Immigration Department and stand by measures necessary to ensure that its integrity is not compromised.
“It is important for officers of the Department to understand what we have been saying that this is a new era of increased scrutiny, transparency and public accountability. Those who cannot adhere to those standards are not welcome in the Department.”
The government has come under intense scrutiny both here and internationally after it implemented a new policy from November 1 that required that calls on foreigners to show evidence that they have permission to live or work in the country.
But Mitchell made it clear that the acts against persons detained at the detention center “are not systemic or sanctioned by the government”.
Meanwhile, police said that they had detained six Jamaican women, two from the Dominican Republic and a Colombian woman at a nightclub.
The police said they believed the women were “at that location for the purpose of lewd dancing and solicitation for prostitution.
“The women were taken into custody for Breach of the Immigration Act. The club owner was also arrested for breach of the Business License Act,” the police statement added.