NASSAU, Bahamas– The Bahamas government says legal proceedings against people involved in the abuse of Cuban detainees here will begin “imminently”.
National Security Minister Bernard J. Nottage said that the investigations into the allegations of abuse of the Cuban detainees at the Detention Center, conducted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), had been completed, “and that proceedings under the Defence Act against the persons implicated in the incident will commence imminently.
“The proceedings are being conducted in accordance with the legal rules prescribed under the Defence Act and Regulations, which approximate a trial before a Magistrate’s Court. As such, we will refrain from making any comments concerning the proceedings while they are under consideration,” Nottage said in the statement.
He said the hearings would be held in camera, but a full report of the proceedings will be issued at the conclusion.
He said this is being done “to avoid publication of matters which may compromise national security” and that three independent observers would be permitted to attend the hearings “in order to assure the public that the proceedings are transparent and just”.
Meantime, Nottage said that retired justice Emmanuel Osadebay, Rev. William Higgs and former Superintendent of Police, Douglas Hanna have agreed to serve on a committee to inquire into the administration of the Detention Center and to make recommendations for its efficient administration and management.
He said this committee has been asked to complete its inquiry within a reasonable time.
On Tuesday, the Perry Christie government confirmed that 13 Cuban nationals had been detained by the Defence Force after they were picked up in territorial waters on Monday night.
Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Mitchell in a brief statement said that the illegal migrants were being processed for their return to Cuba.
In recent months, the Bahamas has had to defend its policy against the repatriation of Cuban nationals who use the country illegally as part of their plans to enter the United States.
Last month, Nassau announced that it would hold talks with Cuba on the illegal migration of nationals from that country and that a team would visit the Spanish speaking Caribbean country “with a view to settling the modalities of how there can be a quicker turnaround of migrants to Cuba”.
The government has blamed “quite a lot of misinformation” regarding the detention and repatriation of migrants in the country and said it would not participate in any discussions with protestors in Miami on the matter.