No Room for Reckless And Illegal Acts In Immigration

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Hon. Elma Campbell /Minister of State

NASSAU, Bahamas – There is no room for “reckless and illegal acts” within the Department of Immigration, Minister of State for Immigration Sen. the Hon. Elma Campbell said this week.

“Let me say emphatically that there is nothing to be gained and possibly everything to lose by bringing the Department of Immigration into ill repute through reckless and illegal acts intended for personal gain or favor of any kind,” Minister Campbell added.

“On the other hand, you can count on the appreciation of your Government and your fellow Bahamians when you give service that is honest, open, transparent and accountable,” Minister Campbell stressed.

Addressing a one-day Staff Motivational Seminar in Nassau on excellence in customer service, Minister Campbell said it is the intention of the Government to provide for, in some measure those personnel who are upstanding and hard-working and who provide excellent service to the country.

She said that in addition to “promotion on merit”, the Department is working on a series of initiatives that will publicly recognize individuals for their efforts.

“We must remember that the Department of Immigration is a first line of defence for safeguarding and protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Bahamas, something that we must at all times keep uppermost in our minds,” Minister Campbell said.

“The scope and breadth of the multi-faceted work which the Department is required to perform, bring tremendous responsibility to the Director and to the officers and staff of the Department,” she added.

Minister Campbell said that as a revenue generating arm of the Government, the Department has a “considerable customer base” that includes returning residents, visitors including members of the Diplomatic Corps, Bahamian and foreign corporations and foreign investors.

She said the Department’s duties are so much more extensive, however, as it is also responsible for legal and illegal migrants, in addition to the management of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The Department also cooperates with regional and international organizations concerned with migration matters, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

Minister Campbell pointed out that in order to successfully carry out its mandate the Department interacts and cooperates with a cross-section of government agencies, departments and corporations.

This includes collaboration with the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces on matters such as illegal migration; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with respect to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, particularly on the matter of the granting of asylum; the Office of the Attorney General with respect to the provisions if Immigration Law in critical areas such as citizenship and with the Department of Labour on matters relative to Work Permits.

“Significant international treaties have implications for the work of the Department as well,” Minister Campbell said. “Notable among these are, the Refugee Convention and Protocol and the Convention on Transnational Crimes Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.

“And so for those who consider the work of the Department to be limited to the illegal migrant problem, serious though this problem may be, it is illegal migration but so very much more,” Minister Campbell added.

She said the seminar – the second in a series of seminars for Department of Immigration personnel – will assist in preparing the officers and staff of the Department to carry out the range of responsibilities the broad mandate of the Department demands.