Photo: Lincoln Bain, Bahamian political party leader and activist
by Kristen Ku
NASSAU, Bahamas, Mon. Feb. 20, 2023
On Wednesday, February 15, political activist and leader of the Coalition of Independents, Lincoln Bain, was arrested while protesting outside of the CARICOM meeting being held in Nassau, Bahamas, against illegal immigration in the country.
The well-known activist and political leader, Lincoln Bain, was reportedly leading a group of protestors just outside of the Baha Mar Resort in The Bahamas’ capital, as regional leaders held a three-day CARICOM meeting inside.
Recently, as a result of a takeover of certain portions of Haiti by gangs and the increasing instability and violence that have resulted on the island from that gang control, there has been a huge influx of undocumented Haitian immigrants into the country. According to reports, approximately three to five hundred Haitians are migrating daily to different Caribbean countries in the region, particularly The Bahamas, and some Bahamian residents are attributing a reported uptick in gang activity, gun violence and drug trafficking to the entry of those immigrants.
Those residents also object to what they believe are corrupt practices within certain government departments that have led to the granting of nationality to many Haitian migrants, without proper compliance with the nation’s laws. This is aside from the country’s economic slowdown, which followed the catastrophic 2019 landfall of Hurricane Dorian, which left many Bahamian citizens living out in the streets or in cars.
Institutions such as schools, hospitals, and national insurance programs have also been adversely impacted by the economic slump.
These were the circumstances that triggered the protest that Bain was involved in on Wednesday when he was arrested. While Bahamians, under the International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights, have the right to engage in peaceful protest, the protestors on Wednesday were enraged when the entrance of the resort at which the CARICOM meeting was being held was barricaded and they were told by police that they required a permit in order to be there. Bain assured them that there was no actual law that states such requirements.
Nonetheless, police started to remove protesters, both men and women, and it is being alleged that the officers punched some of them in the face, and slammed and stomped others on the ground, while forcefully arresting others.
A newspaper reporter from the Tribune paper was also reportedly stripped of her iPhone as she tried to document the event.
The Bahamas’ Minister of National Security, Wayne Munroe, was questioned about the apparent violation of protestors’ rights and responded by saying that because of such a high-level event, security measures had to be put in place.
However, Munroe admitted that the confiscation of the reporter’s phone should not have occurred.
Police reports state that 14 men and 4 women were arrested during the incident, including Bain, who was reportedly assaulted and unlawfully detained by officials.