By Taneka Thompson
Nassau Guardian Senior Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Cuban-American protest group Democracy Movement will submit a report to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on alleged abuse of Cuban detainees at a detention centre in The Bahamas, spokesman Ramon Sanchez said 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.
Sanchez said Democracy Movement will also meet with lawyers this week to see what avenues the group has to compel alleged abusers to face the allegations in the international community.
Sanchez said the group’s complaint to the OAS will outline allegations of abuse and decry the practice of holding children at the detention center.
“These are things that should not be tolerated anywhere,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
He said his group also worries that a government investigation into the abuse claims will not be thorough because alleged witnesses have been repatriated to Cuba.
“The conclusion will be, ‘Nothing happened here, I don’t have any witnesses. I don’t have any victims.’
“If the government had shown a true will to investigate this they would not have sent the victims away until the investigation was completed. So somebody is playing with us, somebody in the government.”
Last week The Nassau Guardian reported that the government had not yet appointed the retired Court of Appeal justice and the other person to lead the final investigation into the alleged abuse of Cuban detainees at the detention center.
The abuse allegedly occurred four months ago and there have been continued calls for a report to be completed and publicized.
At a press conference on Sunday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said he could not say why there has been a delay in the probe and referred the media to the Ministry of National Security.
On August 15, Mitchell told reporters that he hoped to have the completed report in little more than a month.
However, Mitchell did say on Sunday that Democracy Movement’s protests against the government had little impact on The Bahamas’ reputation.
“... My judgement is there has been no impact and there is no fallout,” he said. “I say again, this is a matter which is largely confined to Dade Country and Broward County in Miami. It is driven in part by the continued fascination which the local press appears to have for this matter and are really giving these people more light than they deserve.
“The fact is they have engaged in what appears to be economic blackmail of this country and we simply cannot support it on that basis and those are just the facts.”
Sanchez said the government “has dragged its feet” for too long and pledged that his group will not relent until the government releases the results of its investigation.
The group has staged multiple protests against The Bahamas in the wake of the allegations.
According to one of the marines interviewed as part of the initial investigation by the defence force, Cuban detainees were severely beaten at the center 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.
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.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian