Fred Mitchell MP
The following statement was issued by Fred Mitchell MP, the Minister of Foreign Affair from Paris, France in answer to a press statement by the Opposition’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs:
1 December 2015
The Bahamas government constantly reviews all matters relating to intelligence and security at the borders from time to time. The country should know that this occurs regularly. All the heads of the law enforcement agencies meet regularly to exchange information and make joint plans. There is a constant exchange of information at both a national and international level.
The country should know that the immigration law has been amended to increase the penalties for offences under the Immigration Act.
The country should know that 18 million dollars are being invested in a new border management system. This will mean new passports, new electronic procedures for entry into The Bahamas and the ability to exchange information accords various law enforcement data bases.
The country should know that The Bahamas has signed on to the APIS system which allows the exchange of valuable information on passenger traffic into The Bahamas.
Legislation will be introduced shortly so that this system can go live.
The country should know that there have been successful prosecutions under the new laws for harbouring illegal immigrants, for assisting illegal landing .
Repatriations continue unabated.
What concerns the government however is that the Opposition is unable to restrain its friends in the activist community who seem intent on tying up the courts in frivolous and vexatious litigation, racking up unnecessary court costs to prove points that are not exactly earth shattering in law.
This together with the international cries of wolf by their activist friends are cause for concern. Their activist friends spread alarm in this country and abroad and unwittingly (we hope) provides cover for people who are engaged in these criminal enterprises bringing illegals in and through this country.
It would be appropriate for the Opposition spokesman to use his influence to ask their activist friends to cease and desist with this.
Another concern is that the penalties that are being imposed in the Courts do not seem to reflect the policy change made by the Government when the law was amended to provide for more severe penalties.
We try our best with the resources within our command and work with partners both national and international to ensure that the country is safe.
If the Opposition’s spokesman wishes a briefing on what is being done, we would be happy to provide one for him.