Bahamas: United Nations Human Right experts have asked the Bahamas to put a halt to the plan of demolition of 600 homes as a Haitian community, descendants and migrants numbering up to 2,000 people, including many women and children, are at serious risk of becoming homeless.
This demolition is about to take place this week at two informal settlements known as – the Farm and the Farm Road on the Abaco island.
The UN Human Rights experts stated, “The planned forced evictions and demolitions aggregate a serious violation of the human rights to satisfactory housing and would result in arbitrary internal displacement and to make things worse, this is scheduled to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to expose an already helpless minority to all kinds of risks for their health and safety.”
Experts added that “We urge the Bahamas government to immediately cease further evictions and housing demolitions. Furthermore, we have called on the Bahamas government to review its migration policy, which includes- the widespread use of detention and suspension of the migrants.”
The experts further cited that “Most of these people have no place else to go. If their homes are destroyed, they are at serious risk of falling into homelessness and extreme poverty. While it is important to move away from informal settlements lacking in safety and infrastructure, helpless minorities should not be left behind in the government’s efforts to rebuild more resilient communities.”
“In addition to the risk of becoming homeless, some migrants among the citizens of the two informal settlements fear that they might be detained and deported,”- asserted UN experts.
The Supreme Court of the Bahamas has already given court orders to halt evictions in informal settlements on the Bahamas main island- New Providence. The Supreme court of the island would also review the government’s policy to demolish informal settlements and to guarantee adherence to international human rights standards.
The experts have also requested the Bahamas government to follow due legal process and respect the judicial orders. The UN human rights experts asked the Bahamas government, which currently holds the Vice Presidency at the Human Rights Council, to guarantee that its internal policies are executed in full assent with the international human rights standards.
UN Experts concluded, “People living in squatter settlements need to be consulted, receive the security of tenure, and either be allowed to remain where they currently live and if they need to be relocated for safety reasons – then they should be properly re-housed and equipped with access to sanitation, water, electricity and access to other necessary public services.”