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Smith: Don’T Lay A Finger On Cubans

Fred Smith

Fred Smith

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY Fred Smith has warned Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell not to “lay a finger” on the two Cubans authorities are searching for, more than a week after the men were released from prison for being held there unlawfully for nearly three years.

Mr Smith, who represented the men in court, said he would sue the government for defamation on behalf of the Cubans, accusing the Christie administration of “poisoning” the public’s mind against the men.

His statement came after Mr Mitchell confirmed on Friday that the men were reportedly last spotted in Bimini.

Mr Mitchell said he has alerted border patrol units as well as authorities in the United States to what he believes is an attempt by the men to illegally enter the US.

Mr Smith, QC, and Adrian Gibson, who also served on the Cubans’ legal team, said they don’t know the men’s location.

“My job is to do the legal work,” Mr Smith said during a recent interview. “I don’t have involvement in people’s freedom of movement. My job was to present their case for a court to make a determination as to whether they were being legally held. It’s not my business to control where my clients go or don’t go.”

Mr Gibson made similar comments, stressing to The Tribune that the men – wherever they are – were not assisted by their attorneys in their movement.

He said he was surprised to hear of the Immigration Department’s desire to re-arrest them and expressed fear that the men would be hurt if found anywhere in the country.

Said Mr Smith: “I warn the director of immigration and minister that if they lay one finger on my clients I will sue them personally for malfeasance in public office, assault, battery and false imprisonment. My clients have committed no offence. There is no offence under the Immigration Act of being without legal status. It is illegal and unconstitutional to round people up and hold them without charge.”

He continued his harsh criticism of Mr Mitchell, saying his clients will sue the minister “personally for abuse (of) power.”

“It is obscene,” the human rights attorney added. “I’m not out to bankrupt the government but if he continues to act unlawfully he will simply continue to crank up the millions of dollars that he is costing the taxpayer. My clients didn’t pick this fight. He did, so back off, admit your mistake and leave my Cubans alone.”

As questions remain about why the Office of the Attorney General failed to oppose an application in court to have the men released from prison, Mr Smith defended the way the matter was handled by the Crown, even as Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has yet to comment on the matter, despite calls to do so.

“Don’t make the Attorney General’s Office your political scapegoat,” Mr Smith said. “The attorney general did the correct thing; they offered no evidence for unlawful detention. The Attorney General’s Office is a ministry of justice, not a ministry of persecution and victory at all costs. The attorney general is the highest officer of the court and has a responsibility through all of their lawyers to prosecute and not persecute. There was no evidence to justify the three years of illegal detention and I urge him to stop making false accusations against my clients.”

Officials have pointed to the unwillingness of the United States to take the men as proof that they pose a national security threat to countries.

However, Mr Smith said only one of the men has ever had a conviction and served a sentence, for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.

As for the ability of the men to move about this country, Mr Smith said: “Article 25 of the Constitution provides for every person, including foreigners, to have freedom of movement in the Bahamas. My clients are free men and they are entitled to be in Bimini, Freeport, Acklins or San Salvador. And they can even be guests in my home if I wanted to because they haven’t committed an offence.”

He said the Immigration Department should only be concerned about preventing people from coming to this country illegally.

On February 18, a Supreme Court justice ordered the release of Cuban nationals Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara Marin after Mr Smith argued that they had been held unlawfully for three years at the Department of Correctional Services.

They were previously at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

Comments

TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrade King's Counsel Freddy I thought I heard you say on talk radio right after the Cubans were released by the court that the two men were no longer your clients that you had not been in contact with them and basically you had done your job to get them released and what they decided to do from here on was their business?
But maybe I misinterpreted what you really said?
The lawyers code must have taught that it's a fine line before you cross over to being seen as turning one's utter dislike for another into a personal vendetta.
I never knew a lawyer could "self-hire" themselves as someone's lawyer to represent their best interests. Like how in the hell do you take and follow their instructions?

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GrassRoot 1 year, 9 months ago

I am glad, that Fred Mitchell went out of his way to safe the Bahamian pilot from dying in the Haitian prison system. I heard the govnerment saying they would not need to borrow more money in this budget year. seems to me with all the damages coming up they have to pay for their screwed up policies to individuals suing the government, they may have to borrow more money

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 9 months ago

Fred Smith calls the Cubans. his Cubans a statement of owner ship. The man now owns Cubans, They may be guest at his home as he has indicated. because he has promised to sue the Tax payers of the Bahamas. Perhaps Fred smith can tell the Bahamian people why has the USA has not allowed them to enter country?>. and their own country will not have them and the agency Mr: Mitchel mentioned has refused to help them. there has to be more to it . Fred Smith is not telling the Truth. Fred should also say Why did The outspoken QC and Gibson not assist Mr: Adderley when he was in prison in Haiti.

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Emac 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree birdie. The man has lost his marbles. My biggest problem here is that Smith is only pushing these types of issues really just because he dislikes Mitchell and by extension the PLP. As I said over and over, this man is very selective with his human rights issues. Fake to the core. I may not like the PLP, but I sure in hell ain't putting no other nationality above my own, for no reason.

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SP 1 year, 9 months ago

*................... Get this stinking Haitian jackass parasite out of our country! ...................

Fred Smith fighting tooth and nail for Haitian rights to Bahamian citizenship while A BAHAMIAN CANNOT get Haitian citizenship no matter how long one lives there or how much money one invest there!

On the flip side, Philippine law make it illegal FOR ANYONE to engage in ANY gainful employment that a Philippine citizen can even halfway accomplish. Yet they want us to allow their people to take our jobs in our country??? WTF???

Bahamas government are the biggest jackass's on the planet!

Why the hell are we allowing foreigners to come to our country and take our jobs and demand citizenship, when Bahamians are not allowed the same opportunities in their countries?

Jackass PLP and FNM are the BIGGEST ASSHOLES on the planet!

Bahamians first MY ASS!

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Chucky 1 year, 9 months ago

More Bahamians have permanent residency or citizenship in other countries than, foreigners have been in possession of work permits in this country at one time.
3215 Bahamian nationals have citizenship in Canada 11422 Bahamian nationals have been granted USA citizenship 6412 Bahamians have been granted citizenship in UK over 8000 Bahamians with status in Europe

ETC ETC ETC

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The_Oracle 1 year, 9 months ago

Does someone actually Want to become Haitian or move clear across the globe to become a Phillipino? BTW, Fred is a hybrid Bahamian just like the damn rest of us, be they first or 10th gen Bahamian, including former P.M's and sitting Cabinet ministers. Count the number of other "Bahamians" fighting for the rule of law in this country, Most are pillaging the country under the guise of "government service". The other Fred used to have a point or two, briefly, before St. George sent him to college, must've been a degree in "Mugabism" Meanwhile, the Chinese have bought and paid the PLP for your souls, wait'll they come to collect!

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

How could Fred Smith tell the Minister of Immigration not to touch immigrants who are in the country illegally? Is he just throwing up a smoke screen and creating a distraction while these two men sneak into the USA? The order by the supreme court required the men be released from jail. It did not give them status in the Bahamas, neither did it make them immune to immigration laws

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