CIVICUS

MonitorTracking civic space

Bahamas

Live rating: Narrowed

Last updated on 14.04.2016 at 16:13

Bahamas-Overview

The Bahamas is a stable democracy, rated highly for its strong protections for fundamental freedoms. Civic space is well respected, allowing people to form associations, conduct peaceful protests and assemblies and share views openly, even if those views are critical of the government.

read more

Latest Civicus alert

See all CIVICUS Alerts

The Civic Space Developments

view Civic Space Developments

Association

The Bahamian constitution protects the freedom of association in Article 24, and provides that it can only be limited in accordance with the law, and where ‘reasonably required’ in the interests of public safety or to protect the rights of others. Civil society organisations are able to operate freely in practice, and campaign on a range of human rights issues including the protection of migrant rights, and the rights of LGBTI people.

The Bahamian constitution protects the freedom of association in Article 24, and provides that it can only be limited in accordance with the law, and where ‘reasonably required’ in the interests of public safety or to protect the rights of others. Civil society organisations are able to operate freely in practice, and campaign on a range of human rights issues including the protection of migrant rights, and the rights of LGBTI people. Civil society has also tried to push the government to pass a more enabling regulatory law for the sector, but these efforts seem to have stalled.

Peaceful Assembly

The right to gather in public to protest and demonstrate peacefully is provided for in the constitution and is generally respected in practice in the Bahamas. Protests concern a range of economic and social issues, including workers’ grievances and opposition to government policies and actions.

The right to gather in public to protest and demonstrate peacefully is provided for in the constitution and is generally respected in practice in the Bahamas. Protests concern a range of economic and social issues, including workers’ grievances and opposition to government policies and actions. The police typically exercise restraint although they sometimes intervene to remove protestors or disperse a gathering.

Expression

While press freedom is generally respected in the Bahamas, increased tension during elections can lead to some pressure on private media. There have also been some isolated threats against the media, and in late 2013 a live hand grenade was found on the premises of The Punch, a privately-owned tabloid newspaper.

While press freedom is generally respected in the Bahamas, increased tension during elections can lead to some pressure on private media. There have also been some isolated threats against the media, and in late 2013 a live hand grenade was found on the premises of The Punch, a privately-owned tabloid newspaper. Criminal defamation remains on the statute books in the Bahamas and carries a penalty of up to six months in prison. Public criticism of the head of state or government can also attract a charge of Seditious Libel in the Bahamas, carrying a potential two year sentence. In 2015, the government introduced a freedom of information bill, which is currently being debated. Although civil society has welcomed the bill as an improvement on an effort to legislate in this area in 2012, they recommend significant improvements should still be made to ensure it meets international freedom of information standards. The Internet is unrestricted and at least 77% of people in the Bahamas are online, according to statistics from the International Telecommunications Union in 2014.