Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hearings into alleged abuse of Cuban detainees at Bahamas detention centre to begin soon

Hearings into alleged abuse of Cuban detainees at Bahamas detention
centre to begin soon
Published on September 26, 2013 By Krystel Rolle
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The investigation into the alleged abuse of Cuban
detainees at a detention centre in The Bahamas is complete and
proceedings against the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) marines
implicated in the matter will commence "imminently", Minister of
National Security Dr Bernard Nottage revealed on Tuesday.

Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage during a press
conference on Tuesday. Torrell Glinton TNG 2013
He said the proceedings are being conducted in accordance with the
Defence Act and Regulations, and are comparable to a trial before a
magistrate's court. However, he added that it is not a criminal hearing.
He said based on the outcome of the proceedings, officials will
determine what will happen next.

"The persons who have been implicated in any way will have the
opportunity to have their case heard by the defence force process,"
Nottage said during a press conference at the Ministry of National
Security on Tuesday afternoon.

"This isn't anything new. The defence force constantly has to deal with
reports or infractions by persons who are a part of [this] agency."

"Just understand that the defence force has a stipulated process and
these are defence force marines who are subject to that process and they
are being dealt with in accordance with that process."

Nottage did not reveal the names of the marines who are implicated, nor
would he say how many officers are involved.

According to one of the marines interviewed as part of the initial
investigation by the RBDF, Cuban detainees were severely beaten at the
detention centre for almost two hours after they attempted to escape on
May 20, and one even appeared to have temporarily lost consciousness as
a result of the abuse. That information was compiled in a report that
was leaked to The Nassau Guardian last month.

Randy Rodriguez, a former detainee who was granted asylum by the United
States, said he was "mercilessly" kicked on the floor by guards, pepper
sprayed and doused with water.

Nottage said he will refrain from commenting on the case until the
proceedings are complete.

He added that the hearings will be held in private; however, a full
report of the proceedings will be issued at the conclusion.

"This is to avoid publication of matters which may compromise national
security," he said.

"However, three independent observers will be permitted to attend the
hearings in order to assure the public that the proceedings are
transparent and just."

Nottage said the independent observers have yet to be chosen, but the
group chosen is likely to include a judge, a member of the church and a
person who is familiar with such proceedings.

He said the names will be released shortly.

Nottage said he expects the hearings to be dealt with as quickly as
rules permit.

"It is our hope that it will be complete in the shortest time possible
consistent with transparency and fairness," he said.

Nottage's announcement comes as Cuban-American protest group Democracy
Movement continues to agitate and demand answers from the government.

The group plans to submit a report to the Organization of American
States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the alleged abuse,
group spokesman Ramon Sanchez told The Guardian on Sunday.

The move is another measure the group is taking as it continues to push
for the Bahamian government to start its formal investigation into the
abuse claims and release a report on this probe to the public.

The Free National Movement has also called on the government to release
a report.

Nottage said on Tuesday that both groups are only concerned about

"They would have Cuban detainees come to The Bahamas, break our laws and
we are supposed to treat them with the red carpet," Nottage said
referring to Democracy Movement.

"But as you know there is now a constant trickle of Cubans through our
waters. There are 17 in the detention centre today. Cuba has agreed to
take 14 of them, who we expect to be returned to Cuba sometime this
week. At the same time, we found another 13 who were in Grand Bahama
this morning."

Nottage said Democracy Movement has not been fair to the country.

However, he added that the government does not condone abuse of any kind.

Source: "Caribbean News Now!: Hearings into alleged abuse of Cuban
detainees at Bahamas detention centre to begin soon" -

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