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PM promises focus on citizenship issue

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 03, 2013

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Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday the government intends to appoint a commission to deal with the question of how children born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents should be dealt with in relation to citizenship and permanent residence.

During the afternoon sitting of the House of Assembly, Christie pointed out that the Constitutional Commission recommended the appointment of a separate commission to look at the issue.

Former Attorney General Sean McWeeney chairs the Constitutional Commission.

“This quite rightly has been identified by the McWeeney Commission as a matter requiring urgent attention,” Christie said.

“I therefore expect to be in a position to announce the membership and terms of reference of this new citizenship commission in the very near future.”

During the commission’s presentation of its report back in July, McWeeney said the group failed to reach a decision on the issue.

“In relation to children neither of whose parents are Bahamian — and this affects a great many of people in this country — we’ve taken the view that this is an issue of extraordinary complexity and this is the one area in which a specialized, highly focused commission is required,” McWeeney said at that time.

“And the recommendation in the report is for the formation of this commission to give focused study to how these persons should be treated. It is a matter which requires the highest priority to be given to the government.

“And indeed as we say in the report that the future peace and internal harmony of the Bahamian society may well depend upon it. However, we wish to make it clear that we do not recommend automatic citizenship by reason only of birth on Bahamian soil.”

Christie said yesterday the McWeeney Commission will remain in existence to generally advise upon the implementation of the recommendations contained in its report.

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