Amnesty Concerned For Wellbeing Of Haitian Man In Custody


Tribune Staff Reporter


AMNESTY International says it is concerned for the wellbeing of a Haitian man held in custody in the Bahamas after a charge of illegal entry against him was dismissed by a Magistrate this week.

In a statement on Friday the organisation called for the immediate release of Jean-Mary Justilien, the man shot by authorities in Eleuthera during an an immigration exercise.

Magistrate Andrew Forbes on Tuesday ruled that there was no evidence to show that the 27-year-old illegally entered the Bahamas in June.

Justilien was shot during an immigration round up in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, on June 9 and airlifted to the Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment. He was discharged from hospital two days later.

He was later taken into police custody on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and an immigration officer in the execution of their duties, according to police in an earlier statement.

Police later concluded that the alleged assault resulted in the accidental discharge of the police officer’s service revolver “causing injuries to the face and shoulder of the suspect”.

The medical report revealed the bullet entered at the back of Justilien’s neck and exited his left cheek.

"Despite being found not guilty of entering the Bahamas irregularly, the immigration authorities argued they were unable to 'process' his case and release him as they were not aware of his immigration status. His lawyers filed a habeas corpus writ seeking his immediate release, but this will not be considered by a judge until 10 December," the Amnesty statement read.

"Jean Marie Justilien’s lawyers fear he will be ill-treated at Carmichael Road Detention Centre and say he is at risk of reprisals from the immigration officers involved in his shooting. His lawyers made numerous requests to allow an independent doctor to visit Jean Marie Justilien when he was detained in prison. They say he has not received proper medical care, has lost weight, and is still in significant pain from the injuries sustained during the raid."

Additionally, Amnesty International called on Bahamian authorities to ensure that Mr Justilien is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and allowed immediate access to an independent doctor of his choosing.

Friday's statement also demanded a prompt and independent investigation into the June 9 incident and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

In September, Justilien filed a writ against the government seeking $500,000 in damages for the shooting and breaches to his constitutional rights. Mr Justilien is represented by noted civil rights attorney Fred Smith, QC.


blackbahamain 3 years, 10 months ago

Where is the comment on this we comment about everything else and no one saying a word on this Wow


Chucky 3 years, 10 months ago

Good point, it could be argued that this lack of concern is a display of the true lack of concern for a humans well being. Us Bahamians care not for any of those " of haitian" decent, except for the ones we own....... "I got me a Haitian to do dat"


birdiestrachan 3 years, 10 months ago

Fred is behind this. How can he be found not guilty of entering the Bahamas illegally when he does not even have a passport. The immigration officers will not harm him. It is only Fred trying to make trouble for the Bahamas.


My2cents 3 years, 10 months ago

People are just fed up with Fred Smith that's why the lack of response. He is an alarmist who takes isolated situations to the world community as the norm in the Bahamas. There are many things for Bahamians to be concerned about. Illegal immigrant rights to trample on Bahamas is only a priority if you are unconcerned and/or unaffected by the more pressing issues.


Abaconian 3 years, 10 months ago

Illegal immigrant or not, "human rights" are called so for a reason - they do not discriminate between race, nationality, gender, age, religion or creed.

Upholding the law and the Constitution is an essential characteristic of a civilised society. I don't care if the man is illegal or not, he should still be afforded with due process of the law. To ignore this fundamental tenet of our legal system is to spit in the face of centuries of human progression, and shows a lack of respect on the part of the government for the Bahamian people, not just the Haitian man in question.

You may not consider this to be a pressing issue, and I totally understand why you might feel that way. But let me ask you this - if the government is willing to ignore basic human rights and the Constitution in this instance, do you have faith that the government will uphold the rule of law in other instances- instances that might have a more direct impact on Bahamians? See, that's the thing with law. You don't get to pick and choose when you want to abide by it. I see this case, and cases like it, as a symptom of a much larger issue.


My2cents 3 years, 10 months ago

No need to educate me on human rights...I understand the term, and I also understand that it applies equally to all humans, not just Haitians. Your rant is completely unnecessary based on my response to the lack of comments. Furthermore, you missed my point that Fred Smith intentionally l takes isolated incidents as the norm and is in my opinion, an alarmist. Also my opinion, not my interpretation of the law, there are more pressing issues to deal with than random illegals and alleged criminals. How many Bahamians in Fox that are still awaiting trial, detained unnecessarily that Fred Smith has taken to Amnesty International? You should save your human rights speech for him.


SP 3 years, 10 months ago

AMNESTY International and Fred Smith expressed no concern when a Bahamian was murdered in Haitian custody!


TruePeople 3 years, 10 months ago

When ever i comment on the infringement of Human Rights in this country nuff nuff people dem is jump on ya and call ya names.


Sign in to comment