DNA on Immigration Policy

 

• No commitment to citizenship at birth

• Birthright citizenship is complex and controversial

• DNA to outline comprehensive platform for Immigration reform

• Upholding Constitution and national interest is DNA's priority

• No more political games or kicking can down the road

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) notes comments attributed to our former leader, Mr. Branville McCartney reported in the Tribune Newspaper (14th June 2019). As a former politician and private citizen, Mr. McCartney is entitled to his personal opinions and lends his voice to national issues from time to time. Additionally, as a former Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Immigration, Mr. McCartney also has some insights on this subject matter. 

While it is apparent that views espoused by Mr. McCartney do not constitute the official position of the DNA, we wish to provide further clarity in this regard. The DNA’s Vision 2017 and Beyond did not commit to the policy of citizenship at birth. The issue of citizenship by birth is complex and controversial with serious implications for the citizenry. It is not surprising therefore that only approximately 30 countries around the world have such a policy in place and some have reversed their national policies in this regard. It is common practice for nations that grant citizenship by birth to have established criteria for qualification as is currently the case in The Bahamas, rather than grant the same automatically at birth.

The DNA will comprehensively outline its platform and position on Immigration for consultation with the Bahamian people. The DNA will not kick this proverbial can down the road like the Free National Movement and Progressive Liberal Party have done for decades. We will not play political games with an issue that is so important to our nation for political expediency. Our position paper will articulate our immigration policy in a holistic manner.

We believe in the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Bahamians under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. We believe that there should be equity under the law and that all Bahamians, male or female, married or unmarried should have the unequivocal right to pass on citizenship to their children. This matter will be a priority among other things in our position paper.

Further, the long-standing issues surrounding illegal migration, shanty towns, issuance of work permits, interpretation of Article 7, residency and citizenship which have been inadequately addressed by successive administrations would also feature prominently in the said position paper. 

It is the intention of the DNA to have open and frank discussions with the Bahamian people with a view to implementing our policies upon assuming office as the next Government of The Bahamas.

 

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance

 

Minister Campbell should know and do better


Summary:

  • Minister unaware of portfolio responsibility

  • Remarks raise questions about Minister’s suitability for portfolio

  • Minister should be more sensitized to issues impacting women & children

  • Addressing violence against women demands a multi-sector approach

  • Minister should provide status and progress of 2015 Strategic Plan to combat gender-based violence


Full Release:

The recent insensitive comments by the Minister of Social Services, Frankie Campbell sparked significant outrage among Bahamian citizens, residents and international observers. While many had looked forward to his tenure as the first male to have oversight of this important portfolio in recent memory, his performance has been disappointing and controversial.  

Although the Bahamas’ rape rate has fluctuated in recent years, 2018 saw an increase of 6%, and in 2016 led the Caribbean in the number of recorded rapes. This is why Minister Campbell’s comments that suggested that the media ought not to question him on the subject of rape as this was not his business was disheartening.  The Minister’s remarks on an issue central to his portfolio questions the Minister’s suitability to hold his appointed post and more importantly – whether he is equipped to address and guide the process of tackling the social challenges his Ministry and our nation is confronted with.

The topic of rape is a sensitive issue that is embedded in the fabric of Bahamian society and the social impact it has on women and children is crippling - tearing apart families and leaving irreparable psychological scars in most cases.  The fact that the Minister of Social Services could not provide a response as a senior public official or shed light on the gains his Ministry is making in combatting issues such as violent crimes against women leaves many to conclude that the Minister is either not fully aware of his portfolio responsibility or not competent to hold the position that he has.  His comments were inapt and gave a poor reflection on senior technocrats within his Ministry and The Bahamas’ views on addressing gender-based violence.

After a recent attendance, in Geneva Switzerland at the 71st session of the Committee on the Discrimination Against all forms of Discrimination against women for the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),  the same Minister fumbled in an interview on the topic of abortion as he defended a statement made by a member of his delegation at the conference and yet again found himself having to clarify certain comments.  This is in addition to the debacle surrounding the reduction of uniform assistance to the less privileged and his recent comments contradicting the position of the government as stated by the Attorney-General.

 

While the Minister’s apology is welcomed, the biblical scripture that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” is instructive in our assessment of his utterances. The Minister has failed to expand on how the 2015 Strategic Plan to address gender-based violence is being implemented and what quantitative and qualitative impact the implementation of this strategy is having on the reduction or elimination of violent crimes like rape against women.  This is especially important in light of the rising statistics of reported rapes within our Commonwealth. In the absence of measurable goals that clearly demonstrates the Ministry of Social Service & Urban Development’s commitment to addressing gender-based violence, the Minister’s apology can only be seen as a damage control exercise and public relations stunt. His statements and video production were reactionary with no plan to address the perplexing issues of crime against women and children. While shelter, food assistance and rehabilitation are extremely important, we must begin to formulate a systemic solution to address violence against women and children before they become victims.

It is imperative that all relevant governmental ministries and agencies make a collaborative effort to combat social issues that can lead to criminal behavior and activity. Appreciating the fact that the roles of various ministries may overlap, it is incumbent upon Minister Campbell and other Ministers of the government to recognize that addressing the issue of gender-based violence requires a multi-sectoral approach.

We implore the Minister to make a serious effort to advocate for stronger laws to protect women and children while simultaneously protecting our nation’s values and safety for the preservation and pride of future generations.   The Minister must get serious about the office he holds and be cognizant of the conventions to which The Bahamas is a signatory. We submit that if the Minister does not have a heart for the people in a ministry as sensitive as the one he holds, he must vacate that office immediately.



Irresponsible Comments by the Member for MICAL

For Immediate Release

Comments made by the Member of Parliament for MICAL, Mrs. Miriam Emmanuel, were unfortunate and disheartening. Our disappointment is exacerbated by the fact that her statements appear to have been premeditated and carefully thought out prior to delivery. The Bahamian people watched with dismay as no Member of Parliament present during the delivery condemned or distanced themselves from the insensitive statements.

The trend that is developing in the Bahamian Parliament which trivializes the serious epidemic of domestic violence is alarming and further demonstrates that there is much work to be done in our society to address this social ill. Our leaders cannot be insensitive to the plight of victims of domestic violence and should not appear to be oblivious to the pain and suffering of individuals that fall prey to this menace daily.

We note that Mrs. Emmanuel has expressed regret for her utterances in the people’s Parliament and has offered an apology. This is welcomed, as under no circumstance should violence against men, women or children be condoned or appear to be condoned in jest, analogy or otherwise. We are hopeful that the MICAL MP will go a step further by contributing her time, talents and resources to advocacy, efforts and initiatives geared towards raising awareness and alleviating the menace of domestic violence that plagues our nation.

Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader