By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN INJUNCTION restraining the Ministry of Health from denying a Bahamian-born mother of Haitian descent and her children remains in place following the adjournment of court proceedings yesterday.
Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Bain ruled that a judicial review of the government’s immigration policy and its alleged impact on 21-year-old Widlyne Melidor’s access to public services would resume later this month.
The Tribune understands that on May 22, the Office of the Attorney General, representing all five respondents in the matter including the Minister of Health, will have the option of agreeing to an undertaking that they will continue to provide Ms Melidor with access to medical treatment. Doing so, The Tribune understands, would result in the uplifting of the injunction.
Until then, however, the injunction - which requires health officials to provide access to medical care for Ms Melidor and her dependents pending the determination of the judicial review - remains in place.
Last month, Ms Melidor filed an application for judicial review of the government’s immigration policy and its impact on her access to public services. Respondents listed in the application were the Minister of Immigration, Minister of Education, the Columbus Primary School Board, Minister of Health and the administrator of the Fleming Street Community Clinic.
The ex-parte application by Ms Melidor alleged that she was denied antenatal care while pregnant with her fourth child and access to primary school education for her five-year-old son, Petroun Benz Chery.
He was also born in the Bahamas and is listed as the second applicant in the application filed on April 24.
The two were allegedly denied services because they did not have Haitian passports, according to the application, which suggests that their experiences appear to be the result of the implementation, or subsequent interpretation, of the immigration policy introduced on November 1, 2014. Ms Melidor is also seeking judicial review of the Immigration Department’s policy requirement for people born in the Bahamas to carry identity papers proving their right to reside in the country; and the decision to refuse consideration of her citizenship application until she is able to produce a Haitian passport, special residency or Belonger’s permit.
Ms Melidor is seeking relief in the form of a declaration that the decisions were ultra vires, or without legal authority; a declaration that the Minister of Immigration is in breach of his duty to determine her citizenship in a timely manner; and orders of certiorari to quash each of the decisions.
She has also requested orders of mandamus: to require the Minister of Immigration to consider her citizenship application according to law and within a reasonable time; to require the Minister of Education and the Columbus Primary School Board to register her son; and to require the Minister of Health and the administrator of the Fleming Street Community Clinic to provide access to medical care for herself and her dependents.
At the time of the application, Ms Melidor was 39 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. The Tribune has confirmed that Ms Melidor gave birth to a boy at the Princess Margaret Hospital on April 27.
She is represented by Fred Smith, QC, of Callenders and Co.
Last November, the government introduced a stricter immigration policy that, among other things, requires every non-Bahamian to have a passport of their nationality. Months later, the government said every child of foreign parents would need a student permit to attend school for the fall semester. In February, Education Director Lionel Sands said that no child would be denied access to an education in the fall semester, despite the new requirement.