By RICARDO WELLS
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.