Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2017, 15:25 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Bahamas

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Bahamas , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 23 October 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.

147 Cubans and an unknown number of Haitians arrived in the Bahamas (or were interdicted by the United States and brought to the Bahamas) in 2003 and were returned against their will. Fourteen persons applied for asylum – 11 Cubans, 2 Haitians, and 1 Ethiopian – down from 54 the year before. UNHCR recommended six of the Cubans and had recognized the Ethiopian earlier in Cuba. The other five were denied and removed but the rest were pending in a process that can take years.

The Bahamas detains undocumented asylum seekers and conditions included inadequate water, medical care, and allegations of mistreatment by guards. The 147 Cubans who were returned may have been deterred from seeking asylum by the prospect of long detention under difficult conditions. But at least they were handed The Haitian interdictees hardly had a chance – the two Haitians who did apply were apprehended in the country and applied defensively. The Bahamas has a repatriation agreement with Cuba to report the names of all interdicted Cubans within 72 hours of arrival.

The Bahamas is a party to the UN Refugee Convention but has yet to pass implementing legislation. The Bahamas maintains a reservation on its accession to the UN Refugee Convention requiring refugees to acquire "status in the Commonwealth" in order to have employment rights superior to non-Bahamians generally. In practice, recognized refugees may work if they apply for and receive a permit but some have encountered difficulty practicing liberal professions such as law. The government issues temporary Convention Travel Documents – greatly delayed by the determination process – but not resident identification.

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