Freedom in the World
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Political Rights: 38 / 40 [Key]
Civil Liberties: 54 / 60 (−4)
Harsh new immigration policies enacted in 2014 and 2015 have drawn protests from domestic and international observers, who decry inhumane conditions at migrant detention centers and the detention of children, and say the policies unjustly target people of Haitian descent. The new policies also threaten to block children born in the Bahamas to undocumented migrants from attending primary and secondary schools, and to make it more difficult for Bahaman-born children of migrants to attend universities. The immigration measures have served to further exacerbate stigma and discrimination against Haitian-Bahaman and Haitian migrants.
In June 2015, an unarmed Haitian migrant was confirmed to have been shot in the back of the neck by a police officer in an immigration raid, contradicting official reports. He was then detained for five months before finally being deported, though his lawyers claimed that they had never seen a copy of the deportation order against him, or the order permitting his detention.
In 2015 the government once again delayed a referendum, originally proposed in 2012, to end gender-based discrimination in the acquisition and transmission of Bahamian nationality. Under current rules, a child born to a Bahaman father and a non-Bahaman mother who are unmarried is not a Bahaman citizen at birth, nor is a child born outside the Bahamas to a Bahamian mother and a non-Bahamian father. Neither do children born in the Bahamas to non-Bahaman parents gain citizenship upon birth.
Separately, in March 2015, allegations emerged that V. Alfred Gray, a cabinet official and member of parliament, had abused his power in order to win the release of a constituent who had been convicted of a crime. While Gray admitted to contacting a magistrate in connection with the matter, the attorney general in May declined to pursue allegations of judicial interference against him. The developments raised concerns about political interference in the judicial system.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2016. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in the Bahamas, see Freedom in the World 2015.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year