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Mitchell Says Judge's Ruling Is A Challenge To Authority

Senator Fred Mitchell.

Senator Fred Mitchell.

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday labelled a recent Supreme Court judge’s ruling that Canadian Bruno Rufa was unlawfully deported from The Bahamas as a “challenge to the authority of immigration”.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Mitchell disagreed with the October 29 ruling of Justice Petra Hanna Weekes, insisting that the

Department of Immigration has an “unfettered right to determine who is landed and is excluded from The Bahamas, subject to law.”

He said in the face of the judge’s ruling, and if the reasons behind her ruling apply “beyond the instant case,” his ministry is now “forced to consider our options”.

The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) meanwhile, yesterday applauded Justice Hanna Weekes’ ruling, calling it a “tremendous victory” for human rights in The Bahamas.

The group subsequently called on the government to uphold the rule of law and “cease embarrassing The Bahamas by their arbitrary and dictatorial approach to immigration matters”.

Mr Rufa, a condominium owner at the Coral Beach Hotel, was initially arrested on January 30 by immigration officers and appeared before Magistrate Debbye Ferguson on February 2, when he was charged with allegedly engaging in gainful occupation without a work permit.

He was released on $2,500 cash bail and the proceedings adjourned.

Following his appearance in court on February 18, Mr Rufa was arrested a second time by immigration officers who told the Magistrate’s Court that he had been deemed an undesirable by the director of immigration and was to be deported as soon as possible.

Mr Rufa was eventually allowed to return to Grand Bahama following discussions between his attorneys and the Immigration Department, which resulted in an agreement on a consent order between the two parties.

Mr Rufa is president of the board of directors for Coral Beach Management Company Ltd and has been the owner of a condo for 10 years.

In her written ruling, the judge found that the actions taken by immigration authorities concerning Mr Rufa’s second arrest and detention “amounted to a breach of the rules of natural justice” and were in violation of the law.

Her ruling was given in the judicial review brought by Mr Rufa against the minister of immigration, the director of immigration and the attorney general over the decision.

Yesterday, however, Mr Mitchell said in response: “…My preliminary view is that in the face of such a wide ranging judgment, with which I respectfully disagree, and if it applies beyond the instant case, we are forced to consider our options where the country and the public interest demands the immediate removal of someone from the country where in the opinion of the Department of Immigration, the continued presence of that individual may be inconsistent with the peace and good order of the country.

“...The basic premise seems to me must be upheld that the Department of Immigration has in the first instance an unfettered right to determine who is landed and is excluded from the Bahamas, subject to law.”

However, the GBHRA said yesterday that Justice Hanna Weekes’ ruling has proven Mr Mitchell “resoundingly wrong,” and said the Fox Hill MP should amend his department’s “unlawful practices” and bring them “in line with what the courts have repeatedly advised.”

“Sewell, Justilien, Rufa - how many times must the arguments of human rights defenders be vindicated in the courts before the government will take heed and act in a lawful manner in dealing with immigration matters?”

“As with earlier rulings, the Rufa matter is being closely watched by the international community and global networks of human rights defenders,” the group added. “We call on the government to uphold the rule of law and cease embarrassing the Bahamas by their arbitrary and dictatorial approach to immigration matters. All we ask is that (Mr Mitchell) and his colleagues obey the law.”

Comments

Honestman 3 years, 6 months ago

Fred Mitchell needs to understand that first and foremost he is a paid civil servant and that he and his Department are required to uphold the law of the land. Immigration Department abused its powers in this case and Mitchell needs to accept the Supreme Court's decision and amend its Gestapo-Like operating procedures accordingly. Maybe Fred, like his Buddy Wayne, would have liked to have seen Mr. Rufa have his @ss flogged into the bargain.

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sealice 3 years, 6 months ago

so much for the separation of politicos and the law - now the law / judiciary is a challenge to his authority... closer and closer to communism everyday comwad fweddy....

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Economist 3 years, 6 months ago

The Law of the Land is "supreme".

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DillyTree 3 years, 6 months ago

Fred really doesn't like anyone to challenge HIS authority.

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GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

Seems the only obstacle between Fred Mitchell and GOD is a judge. Good!

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proudloudandfnm 3 years, 6 months ago

The judgement was based on procedure. The only challenge is getting immigration to use proper procedures. Doofus...

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Cobalt 3 years, 6 months ago

Fred Mitchell and the PLP don't know anything about proper procedure, protocol, due process, diplomacy, ethics, or legal principal.

They're a bush-league, banana-republic, government.

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themessenger 3 years, 6 months ago

Why do we even have a court system when Adolf Christie and Heinrich Mitchell can ignore their judgements with impunity.

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TruePeople 3 years, 6 months ago

QUOTE: “unfettered right to determine who is landed and is excluded from The Bahamas, subject to law.”

... how can it be unfettered while being subject to law?!?!?!?!?!

Dis bey really dumb! Can't even talk crap wid sense....!!!!!

Furthermore, how is Mr. Rufa a threat to national security, as Freddy bwoy want to suggest??!?! Or does National Security translate to Personal Vendetta when F-Bwoy speaking?

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Economist 3 years, 6 months ago

The Minister knows, he is a lawyer, that he can appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeal. So why doesn't he just appeal?

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GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

he is a lawyer? how come he is not yet a QC?

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GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

Exactly. Its not that they don't know, its that they don't like the checks and balances. These guys are all ego-trippers and are in for the sake of their own Godgiven opinion.

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Cas0072 3 years, 6 months ago

It is the Immigration Act that affords the minister the privilege to sign off on deportation orders, and for the GG to have such persons placed on the next plane or boat out of the country. These privileges were also in effect during the FNM administration. Many countries in the Caribbean and probably the Commonwealth at large, provide government ministers a great deal of authority. I am not saying it is right, but it is not fair to say that he is not upholding the constitution or to act as if this is a PLP administration problem. If the process is not working, it won't work under any administration, and so the whole thing needs to be overhauled.

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realfreethinker 3 years, 6 months ago

Is fweddy boy a nyncompoo or a nympho ?

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 6 months ago

I think that the Government of the Bahamas will now have to face the opening of Pandora's Box and the question is now " how many people have been unlawfully incarcerated and or deported since this act was made law". The compensation will be enormous. Ikalikl is correct, we cannot cash these cheques. Hopefully Fweddy them can be held personally liable for these actions.

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TruePeople 3 years, 6 months ago

Bey they never compensated the Jamaican National who was imprisoned for just short of 10 years...... I don't think they would even bother compensating wrongfully imprisoned Bahamians let alone foreigners

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 6 months ago

Fred smith knows that Bruno Rufa"s case is different from Sewell and Justilian:s case. Justilian entered the Bahamas illegally and if Fred Smith can prove other wise he should do so. All I can say is Rufa loves the Bahamas and he also knows it is better in the Bahamas. It is to bad that more Bahamians do not see this and love their Country more. Rufa is putting up a fight to stay in the Bahamas.

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GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

thank you. you indeed had an intervallum lucidum for once.

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TruePeople 3 years, 6 months ago

what exactly is better in the Bahamas???

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrades i have question never before asked of any governing administration to the ministry of immigration.
What was done with in just the past 20 years to the vehicles, cash, watches, rings and other jewellery - along with other items of value seized from illegal immigrants?
Will the present PLP government provide the public with a full list of all items seized from all illegal immigrants and tell the public what happened to them?

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digimagination 3 years, 6 months ago

You kiddin' Tal? You're NEVER going to to get a straight, honest answer to that query!!!

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bluesky 3 years, 6 months ago

There was an alleged death threat complaint filed against Bruno Rufa at the Lucaya Police Station in Freeport back in 2006. There was another complaint filed at the Police station in 2008 against Bruno Rufa for allegedly attempting - breaking and entering.There was another incident where a bound over the peace case was filed against Bruno Rufa,in the Freeport Magistrate court,where he got away with just a warning from the Judge. He was arrested by Immigration back in 2007 for allegedly working illegally and escorted out of the country for breaching the Immigration Act. He was arrested again by Immigration officers and charged in the Magistrate Court in Freeport,on February 3rd 2015, with engaging in gainful occupation contrary to Section 29 (1) an (2) of the Immigration Act. There is an oppression of the minority lawsuit filed against the Condominium Association led by Bruno Rufa as President. Bruno Rufa may not be the best poster boy to champion the human rights cause.

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iamatruebahamian 3 years, 6 months ago

for all who never defends this country (learn to read) stop listen to the noise CH.191 – 24] IMMIGRATION

RESIDENCE AND EMPLOYMENT IN THE BAHAMAS 28. (1) No person other than a person entitled to land in The Bahamas in accordance with the provisions of section 20 shall remain in The Bahamas after the expiration of the period during which he is permitted to remain in The Bahamas by the Immigration Officer or the Director of Immigration under section 22 unless such person is in possession of a valid permit issued in accordance with the provisions of section 30 permitting him to so remain in The Bahamas. (2) Where any person ceases to be a person entitled to land in The Bahamas in accordance with the provisions of section 20 the provisions of this section shall apply to that person upon the expiration of such period of time as Financial responsibility for persons landing illegally. Restrictions upon residence. CH.191 – 24] IMMIGRATION STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001] reasonably to allow for the departure of that person from The Bahamas as the Director of Immigration may in his discretion allow. (3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. 29. (1) No person shall engage in any gainful occupation in The Bahamas unless — (a) he is a citizen of The Bahamas; (b) he is a permanent resident whose certificate of permanent residence permits him to engage in gainful occupation; (c) he is within either of the categories specified in paragraph (c) or (d) of subsection (1) of section 20; (d) he is in possession of a valid permit issued in accordance with the provisions of section 30 permitting him to engage in such occupation; (e) he is a person or within a category of persons whom the Minister has by order specified as entitled to engage in gainful occupation. (2) Any person who engages in any gainful occupation in contravention of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. (3) Any person who, whether on his own behalf or on behalf of another, employs any person who, under the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, is prohibited from engaging in any gainful occupation, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

Judges can't change laws!

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DEDDIE 3 years, 6 months ago

Gainfully employed will need to be proved. Do immigration have a salary stub, cheque or any evidence that he was receiving a salary or any form of compensation for services rendered. All the courts are asking is in light of the fact you kick him out, why, and if its because he was gainfully employed then show us the evidence he was. Checks and balances are a beautiful thing when it works correctly.

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 6 months ago

The PLP never took notice or the Privy Council ruling on Darcy Ryan and they still do not have any respect for the law.

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