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Lawyers File New Writs For Detainees

By Ava Turnquest

A high-profile team of lawyers filed applications for habeas corpus writs in the Supreme Court yesterday over the detention of three more men at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The applications for Bahamas-born men Michelot Merilien, 22, Emmanuel Simon, 36, and Anselet Curry, 27, were filed by QCs Damian Gomez and Fred Smith, and their respective juniors Nicholas Mitchell Jr and Crispin Hall.

The latest filings bring the number of habeas applications facing the government over migrant detention to six - all set to be heard on December 19.

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton granted permission to issue the habeas corpus writs, which would allow for the court to determine whether a particular person should be immediately released from unlawful detention, and also set an injunction against the Department of Immigration to block the agency from deporting or repatriating any of the men.

Mr Merilien was arrested and detained on December 7, and Mr Curry has been in detention since November 6, according to supporting affidavits, which did not indicate how long Mr Simon has been detained at the centre. Legal counsel for Mr Simon claims he was arrested and detained on November 27.

The affidavits, in separate matters, were all sworn by Callenders & Co law firm’s legal assistant Wislande Geffrard.

Mr Geffrard claims the men were all born at the Princess Margaret Hospital, and that their imprisonment is unconstitutional and unlawful.

The applications for habeas corpus writs were filed in the Supreme Court against the attorney general, minister of immigration, director of immigration, and superintendent of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

Immigration controversies have dominated headlines in recent weeks due to two illegal landings near the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s Coral Harbour Base, and increased apprehension exercises as the December 31 deadline for illegal migrants to leave the country voluntarily announced by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis looms.

Two men who filed habeas applications last week were released from custody by Immigration officials. 

One of the men, Jamaican barber Ricardo Johnson was released from the Detention Centre Friday evening, the day after his habeas corpus application was filed in court.

The second, Regional Raymonvil, a 31-year-old born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents, was in possession of his Haitian passport and application forms when he was arrested in Grand Bahama on November 29, his affidavit claimed. 

He was released from custody last week Thursday, the same day the Supreme Court gave him permission to issue a writ of habeas corpus. He too is represented by Mr Smith. 

Another high-profile habeas corpus case involves Jean Rony Jean-Charles, whose whereabouts are now the subject of court proceedings.

The Supreme Court last week gave the government until December 19 to produce Mr Jean-Charles and either provide evidence justifying his detention or be held in contempt of court.

Immigration officials have said Mr Jean-Charles has been repatriated to Haiti.

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