Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Bahamas

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Bahamas , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Only four persons were recommended for refugee status in the Bahamas in 2002, one Haitian, two Colombians and a Cuban. There were 54 asylum applications made, according to the Bahamian government, and the vast majority of those were Cubans.

The Bahamas has not enacted legislation implementing the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol, which they ratified in 1993. Instead, the government of the Bahamas determines asylum claims on an ad hoc basis with the advice and assistance of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The government issues grantees Convention travel documents, which are valid for one year. Refugee status and work authorization are temporary and also must be renewed annually. Children of refugees are automatically given refugee status, and children born in the Bahamas to refugees – including Haitians – may apply for citizenship during the year following their 18th birthday.

The Bahamas detains undocumented asylum seekers, as well as those who enter the country illegally. Detention conditions were reportedly not always up to international standards, with lack of adequate water, lack of timely access to medical care, and allegations of mistreatment by guards. Persons legally in the country who apply for asylum are not generally detained.

A repatriation agreement between the Bahamas and Cuba authorizes the Bahamas to deport undocumented Cubans immediately upon arrival. In practice, however, the Bahamian government screens all Cubans to identify potential asylum seekers, and any Cuban expressing a fear of persecution has full access to the refugee determination process.

Haitian asylum seekers and migrants continued to arrive in the Bahamas, and almost all were detained and quickly deported by the Bahamian authorities. In 2002, Amnesty International expressed concern that Haitians were not given adequate opportunity to present their asylum claims.

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