Dame Joan: Expanding Citizenship Laws

Former Chief of Appeals Court Joan Sawyer said yesterday that children of Bahamian women born abroad should be allowed to be registered as Bahamian citizens at birth.

Dame Joan supports expanding the Bahamian Citizenship Act to address issues raised in two failed referendums on this particular citizenship issue.

“Such expansion of the Nationality Act includes the restriction of the birth of children born abroad of Bahamian men and of Bahamian women married to non-Bahamian men to the nearest Bahamian Embassy or Consulate, for example, 21 days from birth. It must include an explicit provision for registration within the birth of a child, ”said Mrs Joan.

“Such a registration would indicate that the child is a Bahamian citizen from birth in the same way that a child born here of a Bahamian parent is a citizen of the Bahamas and the proof of that citizenship is the birth certificate. It should be proof that you have citizenship.”

Dame Joan took that position in a 2019 paper examining the proposed nationality, immigration and asylum bills at the time.

She echoed that view yesterday when asked what she thought of the Davis administration’s plan to introduce a citizenship bill.

The bill has not yet been circulated for consultation, so Mrs. Joan stressed that she had not seen it.

However, she pointed out that the Bahamian Citizenship Act now gives the minister responsible for nationality and citizenship the power to use his discretion in registering minors of Bahamian citizens as citizens.

Article 6 of the Bahamian Citizenship Act provides that “The Minister may authorize a parent or guardian of a minor child of a Bahamian citizen to have the minor child of a Bahamian citizen registered as a Bahamian citizen upon making an application in the prescribed manner. can be done.”

Mrs Joan said Nassau Guardian“I would like to remove that discretion and legislate the actual conditions under which a woman can register her child at the nearest Bahamian consulate or embassy, ​​and that it will be the child’s birth certificate.”

She also said: [of the constitution] when it treats children [the child] 18 is a child’s right. They don’t seem to read and understand the constitution. ”

The first question in the failed 2016 gender equality referendum asked voters: Under this constitutional amendment, a child born outside the Bahamas will become a Bahamian citizen at birth if either the mother or father is a Bahamian citizen at birth after the amendment comes into effect. ”

In his August 2014 notice to Parliament of the proposed constitutional amendments, then-Prime Minister Perry Christie stated that the right to pass Bahamian citizenship to his children under Bill #1 would not allow Bahamian parents to grant their own rights. , or myself, emphasized that it only applies if you are native. Born in Bahamas.

“This has always been the case when it comes to Bahamian fathers of children born overseas. rice field.

“In both cases, only Bahamian-born Bahamians can pass citizenship to children born abroad.”

But voters rejected that change and other constitutional amendments.

influential voice

Ahead of the 2016 referendum, Dame Joan also expressed the view that there is already a law in place allowing ministers to grant citizenship to children born on board a Bahamian woman married to a foreign man. was doing.

The second question in the 2016 referendum asked voters: Under this proposed constitutional change, the alien spouse of a Bahamian citizen may become a citizen, subject to satisfaction of existing national security or public policy considerations and two new requirements after this article comes into effect. Apply for and obtain rights. Regulations prohibiting political marriages. ”

Asked if that question of citizenship should also be addressed by ordinary law, Mrs. Joan said, “It’s a whole different kettle of fish,” declining to elaborate on the point, but automatically foreign husbands of Bahamian women who do not have citizenship in

Mrs Joan’s voice stood out as she voiced her critical opposition to the proposed constitutional amendments ahead of the 2016 referendum.

Question 4 was aimed at eliminating discrimination based on gender.

This would have included inserting the word “sex” into Article 26 of the Constitution to make it unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of whether someone is male or female.

At the time, Christie said, “In addition, there will be new amendments designed to allay concerns that this will somehow open the door to same-sex marriage. It is currently proposed to insert a definition of “gender”. ”

Yesterday, Dame Joan suggested that there is nothing normal law can do about this issue.

“If they mess with Article 26, [won’t] Article 26 is a entrenched provision that must be amended in a specific way, so it flies.

“Same-sex marriage cannot be introduced through the back door. That is what they were trying to achieve (2016).”

Many voters rejected the referendum out of fear that a successful referendum would pave the way for same-sex marriage in the Bahamas.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder said last week that the Davis administration would not address civil rights issues through a referendum, suggesting the referendum could lead to the wrong outcome.

“Let’s see what happens with the referendum,” Pinder said at a news conference at the prime minister’s office.

“Often the right thing is not done. means to obey the law.

“And that’s my opinion. It is my opinion and my recommendation to the Prime Minister.”

After Dame Joan completed her August 2019 thesis, she shared it with Bishop Delton Fernander of the Christian Council and government officials.

She did not support the then-proposed Citizenship, Immigration and Asylum Bill and recommended keeping the Bahamas Nationality Act separate from the Immigration and Asylum Bill.

Pinder said the citizenship portion of the bill would be introduced as a separate bill.

fernander said Nassau Guardian On Sunday, he will not support constitutional amendments through legislative means.

In introducing the Citizenship Bill, the government will no doubt point to Article 13(a) of the Constitution. By the provisions of this chapter…”

Pinder initially said the government planned to introduce a citizenship bill by the end of the summer, but more recently said it would be introduced by the end of the current budget year. Dame Joan: Expanding Citizenship Laws

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