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MITCHELL ADDRESSES HONORARY CONSULAR LUNCHEON

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discount viagra capsule times;”>The following remarks were made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the annual Honourary Consular Corp Luncheon held on Thursday 11th December at the Lyford Cay Club.:
fmlunchREMARKS BY THE HONORABLE FREDERICK MITCHELL, 
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMIGRATION
AT THE HONORARY CONSULAR CORPS LUNCHEON
LYFORD CAY CLUB, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Illegal immigration has been one of the three greatest priorities of The Bahamas in this year; the other two being crime and the protection of the environment.

In dealing with immigration on the international front, a Memorandum of Understanding between The Bahamas and the IOM was signed during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this past September.

The Memorandum of Understanding contains the following elements:

(i) the conduct of relevant research and studies on migration in the country;
(ii) the strengthening of migration management which includes measures to facilitate regular migration and to address irregular migration;
(iii) the identification and development of appropriate measures to assist and protect vulnerable migrants;
(iv) the mainstreaming of migration into the development plan and the exploration of potential collaboration in activities related to the UN Post-Development Goals;
(v) the enhancement of disaster risk reduction and resilience due to climate change and environmental challenges which lead to the movement of population;
(vi) the pursuit of informal intra-regional dialogue on migration in the Caribbean.

Further, the IOM Deputy Director General, Ambassador Laura Thompson, visited The Bahamas in November and reiterated the IOM’s support for regional cooperation in combatting irregular migration and smuggling.

There were also discussions on the Advance Voluntary Repatriation and Reintegration Programme and on The Bahamas’ role in a Regional Consultative Process to exchange views and best practices on migration management in the region.

On the domestic front, the Immigration Department has been improving its capacity to deal with the problem of the illegal influx of migrants into The Bahamas.

On 30th June 2014, the Department commenced the training of fifty-three recruits, forty-three in Nassau and ten in Freeport.

The officers were taken through a vigorous program which saw them being taught the various aspects of the application of the Immigration Act; and understanding how the different sections of the Department function. They were also introduced to physical training, as well as military drilling.

On the 5th November, 2014, they were graduated and are now deployed in the Enforcement Unit, at the Detention Centre, and at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

The 1st November, 2014 saw the implementation of a new Immigration Policy which requires that all persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents must be in possession of a passport of their Nationality. Additionally, with this Policy came the introduction of the Resident Belonger’s Permit.

This new permit would allow persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents to have continuous legal status until they have had a decision on their application for registration as Bahamian citizens.

As regards crime, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been active on the international front. On 25 September 2014, The Bahamas became one of the first 50 countries to ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty which aims to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons.

The Bahamas’ instrument of ratification was deposited at the United Nations on that day.

As a result of the achievement of 50 ratifications, the treaty will enter into force on the 24th of December 2014.

It is expected that support and commitment to this international instrument, particularly among countries of the region, will redound to the benefit of our communities, individually and collectively, as a result of stricter weapons control which will complement our national efforts to fight crime.

Regarding the pernicious activity of trafficking in persons, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, paid The Bahamas a visit earlier this year.

In her report to the Human Rights Council in June, she highlighted the deficiencies which exist in The Bahamas with respect to trafficking in persons, particularly the treatment of perpetrators and the registering and protection of victims.

The Government has committed to act on these recommendations in the coming year.

During the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly this past September, the Prime Minister delivered a statement on climate change at the UN Secretary General’s Summit.

He said that “The Bahamas calls therefore for a sufficiently ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive, legally binding framework, with commitments strong enough to reverse present upward emission trends.”

He also indicated that sustainable concessionary funding for countries such as The Bahamas should not be denied on the basis of skewed indices such as GDP, that do not account for our vulnerability as a Small Island Developing State.

Additionally, The Bahamas currently chairs the ‘Save our Sharks Coalition’ in New York and is working to promote healthy oceans and seas generally, and more specifically, the expansion of the “blue economy” through shark conservation and the establishment of shark sanctuaries throughout the world.

Throughout the course of this year, The Bahamas participated in a number of international fora such as:

The 2nd CELAC Summit in Havana, Cuba, on 25th-29th January, 2014; the 3rd CARICOM-Mexico Summit in Merida, Mexico, on 29th April, 2014; the 6th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States in Merida, Mexico, on 30th April, 2014; the 8th UK-Caribbean Forum in London 15th -16th June 2014; the 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of State and Government in Antigua and Barbuda on 1st – 4th July; the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Apia, 1st – 4th September 2014; the 8th China, Latin America and Caribbean Business Summit held from 12th to 13th September; the CARICOM-Japan Summit, held in Tokyo Japan from the 13th to the 14th November; and most recently, the 5th CARICOM-Cuba in Havana, Cuba, on 8th December.

During this past year, The Bahamas opened the new Maritime Office of the Bahamas Maritime Authority in Athens, Greece and during our inaugural diplomatic week in October, from the 19th to the 25th The Bahamas launched its candidature for re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation, under Category “C”, the election for which is to take place in November 2015

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. The Bahamas took the opportunity of a large foreign contingent during the Diplomatic Week 2014 to launch this action.

As regards to Technical Cooperation and Assistance, Bahamian students and professionals continued to rely on the Ministry’s Technical Assistance Unit for information and guidance on international education and training opportunities and in this year alone Bahamians have been offered opportunities in countries such as China, Cuba, Brazil, India, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Turkey, Israel and Malta.

The number of Bahamian recipients of Chinese scholarships has increased significantly this year. In addition to the 18 recipients named in August, an additional 19 Bahamian students visited China in October and November. Twelve of these students are pursuing a master’s in Public Diplomacy in Changchun, Jilin province and 7 students are at Beijing Normal University studying for an MBA. In addition, this year 38 Bahamians participated in short-term courses offered by the Chinese government.

Ladies and Gentlemen this has been a good year for The Bahamas in regards to its foreign relations and your support in this has been crucial.

I therefore thank you, the members of the Diplomatic and Honorary Consular Corps for your support in our inaugural Diplomatic Week and in your general work of maintaining good relations between The Bahamas and the countries that you represent.