PLP Welcomes Decision On Children Out Of Wedlock And Citizenship

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The following statement  is by the Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Brave Davis MP:

28 May 2020

We support the decision given on 25 May 2020 of the Supreme Court in Rolle et al. v A.G. (2019) that the child of an unmarried Bahamian man born in The Bahamas to a non-Bahamian woman is a citizen of The Bahamas at birth.  We are satisfied by the soundness of reasoning in Justice Ian Winder’s decision, and welcome it.

We note the obvious, pointing out that the ruling addressed in law one of the questions put to the country in the 2016 Constitutional Referendum. In that referendum, the PLP advanced a bill to amend the constitution in those terms and voted for the law which would have brought about the result which now ensues from this ruling.  We have not changed our position.  This gives equality of treatment as between men and women, regardless of their marital status to pass on their citizenship to their children. The ruling should not be appealed.

The Progressive Liberal Party understands that scientific advancements, among other advancements and considerations, afford us the advantages of protecting the entitlement of Bahamians and ensuring effective checks and balances against abuse of our laws, institutions and way of life.  The statute law should now be amended to facilitate the decision.

The technology is available to verify the paternity of a child separate from the word of the unmarried persons. Should the instant decision stand of automatic citizenship in Rolle et al. v. AG (2019), we would legislate that paternity tests be a requirement in proving paternity in circumstances of being unmarried, replacing the sworn affidavit.

Any anxiety or suspicion that the decision can have the effect of compromising or breaking down our society should be lessened by our understanding and acceptance of the wholesome diversity of our country. This decision makes the law better to reflect the honest realities of the regional and global integration of Bahamians with other nationalities in The Bahamas as is life in other states with their citizens and the integrating world. 

It goes without saying that much more needs to be done to bring about equality between the sexes in The Bahamas. However, this ruling is a useful first step.

We again welcome the cogency of Justice Winder’s decision.  We accept it as correctly and manifestly reflecting the reality that is our national life.