Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Bahamas, January 21, 2018 – Nassau – Based upon news accounts and commentary upon my Report to the United Nations in Geneva during the recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on Human Rights it has become apparent that there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the nature of the exercise.The Bahamas has been a member of the United Nations since Independence, and every five years is called upon, along with every other member State, to report on what it has done to live up to the commitments that it made five years previously to address international concerns about Human Rights, which it has previously committed to undertake at the previous UPR held five years before.Each country is obliged to show the extent to which it has lived up to its commitments or what they are in process of doing to live up to commitments made, and also whether or not it will seek to address other concerns of the international community, which it has not yet committed to address.Over the past several days and during my absence abroad I have been accused of announcing government policy to the international community without having first announced these matters to the Bahamian people.Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past month or more I have given Press interviews and read Press reports or seen TV newscasts in which I have spoken about:(1) “Marital Rape” and clearly stated that we were drafting an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act. I also clearly stated that the new proposed offence of “aggravated spousal abuse” was a preferred means to avoid stigmatizing incidents in a subsisting marriage as “rape”, but was necessary also as a means to provide protection to abused spouses;(2) “The intention to amend the Bahamas Nationality Act” where I spoke to the Press about the government’s intention to provide a legal framework where children of Bahamian males or females, born in or out of marriage anywhere in the world could receive citizenship by being registered “upon application”.(3) “The Independent Committee to review the backlog of constitution-based citizenship applications by persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents after Independence”. Again, a number of Press reports covered my comments on this matter.(4) “Immigration Law reforms” comments that I made were also reported, particularly the proposed increased penalties for harbouring and providing employment to undocumented migrants.In each case mentioned in my remarks at the UN UPR in Geneva I was careful to state that these initiatives were “draft” Bills, “proposed” Laws or “being finalized”. Where I spoke about the Independent Committee on Citizenship applications, I mentioned the fact that the government “plans to introduce” a Review Committee chaired by a retired Chief Justice.I further, in respect of the draft “aggravated spousal sexual abuse” amendment Bill, specifically stated in Geneva that the Bill had been forwarded to religious leaders and civil society for consultation; (each of whom having been specifically asked to consult with their associates or affiliated organizations). This had been done since early January, 2018. Up to the day of my comments I had received only one reply from civil society which reflected what I viewed as general support, with a few points of criticism as to certain aspects of the proposed Bill, such as the time limit.All of these statements are facts; facts that I have spoken to the Bahamian People about, through the news media, on a number of occasions, and before going to defend my country’s Human Rights record in Geneva.Each of these items were mentioned specifically to show the ongoing seriousness with which the government was either addressing previous commitments made to improve Human Rights, or grappling with the means to effect social progress, protect the vulnerable and take The Bahamas to a better place for the benefit of all Bahamians.It is therefore deeply distressing to see my words apparently deliberately distorted, contorted and twisted out of all recognition.I therefore urge all Bahamians to actually read the words in the Report that I gave to the UN, rather than to be driven by the excesses and errors depicted in Social Media and, most of all, to avoid knee-jerk commentary. Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Senator the Hon. Carl Bethel, QCAttorney General and Minister of Legal AffairsJanuary 19, 2018 Related Items:
Police have released two Myanmar photojournalists covering the Rohingya crisis for a German magazine after they were granted bail by a court, police and a lawyer said.Minzayar Oo and Hkun Lat were detained early this month in the border district of Cox’s Bazar, where more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought refuge from violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since 25 August.Police have said they were arrested on suspicion of espionage-a charge rejected by the pair’s lawyers.“They were freed on bail,” a police inspector told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.One of the pair’s lawyers, Jyotirmoy Barua, confirmed that the two were granted bail by a court of a judicial magistrate in Cox’s Bazar.It was not clear whether the two would be allowed to travel back to Myanmar.The lawyer said the two were charged with “false impersonation” and providing “false information” after police accused them of using tourist visas to enter the country, instead of journalist visas.Cox’s Bazar police, however, earlier told AFP the pair were also “primarily accused of espionage”.An award-winning photographer from Bangladesh also arrested with the pair was later freed.Scores of foreign journalists have poured into Bangladesh’s southeast to cover the Rohingya exodus.The UN has accused Buddhist-dominated Myanmar of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the stateless group.Minzayar Oo and Hkun Lat arrived in Cox’s Bazar in early September on assignment for Hamburg-based magazine Geo to cover the refugee crisis, which has strained relations between Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Myanmar.The lawyer described Minzayar Oo as “an award winning photographer whose work was published in reputed dailies and magazines including the New York Times, Guardian and National Geographic”.The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has urged Bangladesh to release the photographers and drop all charges against them.“The Bangladeshi authorities should not criminalise covering a major world story,” said CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney said last week.“Both local and international journalists reporting on the Rohingya story must be allowed to work freely,” he said.Read more:Bangladesh accuses two Myanmar journalists of ‘espionage’
A case was filed with a tribunal in Dhaka on Thursday against 11 people, including the officer-in-charge and two sub-inspectors of Jatrabari police station, over the reported gang-rape of a woman on 12 March.Judge of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal Joyshree Somaddar ordered judicial inquiry into the allegation.OC Wazed Ali Mia, and SIs ASM Mahmudul Hasan and Laizu were accused of abetting the crime as they refused to record a case over the ‘gang-rape’.The other accused are Md Shafiqul Islam Roni, Md Sagar, Md Shamim, Md Alauddin Delwar Hossain, Md Hanif, Md Swapon, Bilkis Akhter and Farzana Akhter.According to the case statement, Farzana and Bilkis took the victim, a mother of two who had desperately been looking for a job, to a flat at Karachitala on 12 March last in the name of giving her job.However, Swapon, son of the house owner, allegedly raped her and recoded the incident on his mobile phone.Later, 10-12 more people raped her in turns, said victim’s lawyer Md Jakir Hossain Hawladar.The victim went to Jatrabari police station to file a case in this regard.However, police demanded Tk 100,000 for recording the case and threatened to file a ‘false’ case against her if otherwise.On 18 March, police produced the victim before a court levelling her as a sex worker as she failed to pay the bribe, the lawyer said, adding that they did it to hush up the gang-rape incident.