By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
A HAITIAN-Bahamian woman who accused Department of Immigration officers of assault and wrongful detention in December yesterday filed a civil writ against senior government officials in the Supreme Court over the matter.
The lawsuit, filed by Fred Smith, QC, of Callenders and Co on behalf of Dahene Nonord, listed the attorney general, commissioner of police, minister of immigration and the director of immigration as defendants.
According to the documents, seen by The Tribune and lodged with the court, Ms Nonord, 19, said that on December 3, 2014, she was approached by immigration officers while walking on Cowpen Road around 9am and asked to present her legal documents.
Ms Nonord – who was born in New Providence to Haitian parents and has lived in The Bahamas all her life – informed the officers that she normally did not travel with her documents out of fear that they might be stolen. She walked away.
She alleged that four immigration officers then walked behind her, “physically grabbed her and roughly restrained her”. She pleaded with them to let her go, but they refused to do so.
In her claim, Ms Nonord said that officers aggressively twisted her arm in a painful manner, so much so that she thought that the arm would snap. The officers violently handcuffed the other. She was taken by bus to the Detention Centre. During the journey, she claimed, she was slapped by a male immigration officer “as he was angered by her verbal resistance”.
At the Detention Centre, the writ said that Ms Nonord was “violently pushed into a wall. The officers kicked, punched and slapped her repeatedly and choked her as they forced her down into a chair”.
It further claimed that two women immigration officers beat Ms Nonord and one threatened to kill her, exclaiming, “I will kill this bitch, I will kill her, I will kill this bitch, I will kill her.”
She left the Detention Centre after being picked up by her mother, who she had telephoned and who had brought her documents for presentation around 1pm or 2pm. Before leaving she reported to the officer in charge that she had been mistreated and the two immigration officers told their superior that they had been bitten on the fingers by Ms Nonord.
According to the writ, when she left she went to Hawkins Hill and requested to see the Director of Immigration. Personnel at the department refused to let her, saying that she was lying. As a result of the beatings, Ms Nonord was in “severe pain” and her leg was limp so she visited the Carmichael Road walk-in clinic, where she claimed she was refused treatment after recounting what had transpired.
She took a jitney and checked into the Princess Margaret Hospital. Later she lodged a formal complaint at the Carmichael Road Police Station.
According to the writ, Ms Nonord claims damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages for battery, assault, false imprisonment and breach of her constitutional rights against the attorney general, the minister of immigration and the director of immigration.
Also, damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages for battery, false imprisonment and breach of her constitutional rights against the attorney general and the commissioner of police.
The amount of damages sought is not detailed.