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Injuncted: Judge Orders Govt To Halt All Shanty Town Clearances

A shanty town off Carmichael Road. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff

A shanty town off Carmichael Road. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE Supreme Court has ordered the government and utility providers to halt any planned service disconnections or evictions in shanty towns pending a judicial review of the Minnis administration’s policy to eradicate those communities.

Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted the interlocutory injunction blocking evictions and service disconnections just days ahead of the government’s August 10 deadline during a telephone conference with human rights attorney Fred Smith, QC, and Attorney General Carl Bethel on Saturday.

Leave for judicial review - filed on behalf of 177 shanty town residents from both New Providence and Abaco, and non-profit group Respect Our Homes Ltd (ROHL) - was granted on Friday.

A date for trial has not yet been determined.

Shanty town residents are seeking to ventilate concerns the government’s “eradication policy” and subsequent evictions are unlawful, unconstitutional, and motivated by ethnic discrimination without clear title to land ownership.

An affidavit filed by ROHL Director Stephanie St Fleur contends the challenges faced by people of Haitian descent since the 1950s have dramatically increased, most notably since November 2014 when new immigration and shanty town policies were introduced.

She notes land was leased in New Providence and Abaco for farming, and lease holders or farmers invited workers onto the land the majority of whom were immigrants from Haiti, who over the years established homes. Many of those workers became citizens, permanent residents, or married Bahamians, according to Ms St Fleur, who stated immigration issues are an integral part of this case.

The affidavit points to an explosion of population growth and the consequent need for more land for urban development.

“(Shanty towns were) originally in predominantly far off rural areas which were far from sight and therefore far from mind,” it read.

“They were known to exist and tolerated. They were farmed. They had animals. However, as population in New Providence grew, urban centres gradually approached unregulated communities, some of which have in the past been completely eradicated in the most brutal ways to make way for land urban developments for Bahamians.”

It is also stated the government’s audit of the Lands and Surveys Department will not be completed and made available to the public until December, and infers the government does not actually know whether the land in question is Crown land or not, or whether it is leased and on what terms.

The affidavit read: “In the limited time available, it has not been possible to adduce evidence that conclusively shows who the legal title holders are to the land, and who has other legal or other interest in the land.

“Those may be matters that are relevant to the grounds of challenge,” it continued, “but for the purposes of this affidavit it is sufficient to note that the applicants do not accept that all the land is Crown land and less so that the Crown has full unencumbered title to the land and an immediate right of possession to it.”

The affidavit read: “It may be that some land is leased and the occupiers are in occupation with the tenant’s permission. It may be that some occupants were trespassers against the Crown who have acquired title by adverse possession. These matters will require investigation. Some of the individual residents claim to have leases; others have not fully instructed Callenders and so will require further time and investigation. The point of the present purposes is that there is no apparent right of the Crown to seek immediate possession of any of the land.”

Ms St Fleur underscored the stark contrast between the mission of the government’s Shanty Town Action Task Force, and the white paper published by the government on regeneration of Over-the-Hill areas, a district she posits shares a number of the same features as shanty towns. It was further noted the alternative housing recommended for evicted shanty town residents were “by and large in Over-the-Hill areas”.

The affidavit added: “Plainly the government would never go on record stating that it had one policy for Haitian communities and one for Bahamian communities but in the circumstances described above the applicant’s case is that the inference arises that there is such a discriminatory policy and that it underlay the decisions.”

Comments

TheMadHatter 1 week, 2 days ago

The article says ... "It may be that some occupants were trespassers against the Crown who have acquired title by adverse possession."

This is very very cool. I like this a lot. Can this newspaper, or someone, print out the procedures for this? Like how long you have to occupy a property, etc.

The issue regarding Haitian lands is a dead issue, and clearly nothing can be done about it. The shanty towns will remain just as they are. The article shows how Mr. Smith put a stop to it with merely a phone call. So we need not even ever discuss that again.

The real issue now, is how can Bahamians also benefit from these procedures. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard about "adverse possession." This is not (to my knowledge) taught in our high schools here - but clearly is a required subject to graduate in Haiti.

Let's educate Bahamians how to do this also - so that we can finally get ahold of our land held by the Crown since 1973.

CROWN LAND FOR BAHAMIANS TOO - what a concept.

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

The qualification is: "creole must be first language". This ruling is a load of pure, unadulterated bull. Hope Government m.p.'s and lawyers are worth their salaries.

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

What say you, A.G. Carl Bethel?

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geostorm 1 week, 2 days ago

Attorney General Carl Bethel, you had better get this issue resolved forthwith. There is no way these people should be given rights in our Bahamaland. They are squatters and contribute to the deteriorating conditions in this country. Get them off the land. The government has the right to move them in the national interest. Stop playing games with those Haitians. Follow the Dominican Republic's lead!

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TalRussell 1 week, 2 days ago

Ma Comrades, I had much earlier previously blogged drawing attention to the strong possibility that some occupants would present claims being Shanytown "Land Trespassers against the Crown" who at last minute would plea that they have acquired title by "Adverse Possession." Regardless, Minnis and Dion must be relieved learn Justice Cheryl's ruling halt Shantytown evictions has lifted foot off set deadline.

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

All just too predictable. Somebody jumped into somebody's pocket. Government better not roll over on this one.

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bogart 1 week, 2 days ago

......can anyone stop the immediate removal of structures illegally built and violating Building Codes posing an immediate danger to human life?..????.......just looking at the photo .....there is little passage clearance between buildings which have a number of doors exiting to passage......looking at the rafters ..2x2...????above window to the left these are less than required size to support roof from collasping..?...plywood or durock...??? used for walls.....needs to be examined.....wooden buildings on left seems to be on blocks ???.....can they withstand strong winds..??? Or get blown onto other structures..next to it.?? In the event of fire on the wooden buildongs...will fires spread to next building nearby....???...do the wooden structures have second door...rear....??...is there water supply...??....electrical...??...what is happening with the rotted wood in the picture... .JUST LOOKING AT THE PHOTO THE BUILDING CONTROL ...SAFETY REGULATIONS EXPERTS....SHOULD BE THE ONES TO MAKE THE CALL ON IMMEDIATE REMOVAL OR TO REMAIN AS IS...OF THESE ILLEGALLY BUILT STRUCTURES AS THEY POSE IMMEDIATE DANGER TO OCCUPANTS, CHILDREN HANDICAPPED PERSONS IN THEM AND SURROUNDING AREAS .....FLYING DEBRIS....EMBERS FROM FIRE.........ever see fire spread on wood.....an odder flamables...??.......WASTE RUNOFF.....if dis da outside Id be reluctant to see the supporting structure insides......THE AUTHORITIES DA HUMAN RIGHTS?.DA CHURCH...THE HAITIAN DELEGATION...NEEDS TO IMMEDIATELY FINDS HOUSING FOR DESE OCCUPANTS.....cause jus lookin at da picture .....

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TalRussell 1 week, 2 days ago

Ma Comrades, considering the party of convenience for the well to do are well known consist of "land snatchers" having over generations laid claims being "Land Trespassers against not only the the Crown but private individuals" who would plea before the colonial court judges that they too had have acquired title by "Adverse Possession... ever heard H.G. Christie who was well known moving land stakes to increase land square footage by some extra foots of which he was about take possession of..... want some more still around Bay Street Boys family names? What we really need is a Land Commission to go after many lands outright stolen or fraudulently conveyed some today's old and new politically wealthy... they is white and black, This is a fact.

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screwedbahamian 1 week, 2 days ago

The longer the government remain wishy-washy in their decisions and delay the needed action on this problem the larger and vexing this situation is going to become. Simular problems like this went away when the citizens of the Dominican Republic took matters into their own hands. If these SHANTYTOWNS are illegal and break Bahamian laws, [demolished them and be done with it already. Let the legal immigrants find their own alternative housing. In any law abiding country, those that break the laws are incarcerated,

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CaptainCoon 1 week, 2 days ago

Get this injunction sorted and bulldoze those dumps. I had to buy my own land, nothing in this life is free.

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Sickened 1 week, 2 days ago

I feel like a real ass! All the time I wasted saving up to buy land when I could've just picked an unoccupied plot of government land and built a house with no plans or approvals and no electricity bills or property tax. I could've had over $100k sitting in my account right now.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

All of you posting here fail to understand that the Minnis-led FNM government is very much pro Haitian. It was a shanty town show put on by Minnis to distract your attention and anger away from the recent 60% draconian increase in VAT. And it succeeded.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 2 days ago

LORD ........... Save us from this Haitian onslaught ......... now the Yardies want to parade on Clifford Park????? ........... We are slowly been pushed into a situation where we will have to fight to save this country for true true Bahamians' NextGen.

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bobneville 1 week, 2 days ago

mr/mrs goverment ,quote: what thou doith, doith quickly stop changing dates .it shows you are not ready,if your not sure ,wait until you are,your at war man .your enemy and the people are taking your kindness for weakness, and nobody wants a weak goverment,you are giving your enemies to much time to think,bad move ,say what you mean and do what you say,NOW,if you dont know what to do; pay a pro to tell you you guys are getting too goddam comfortable.with your new found power ,take note of the donald,he won and he's still kicking ass,i dont want to see you guys a one time loser.but you gotta work for it,day and night,get off your asses and fix thingsthis aint no children game,by the way mr wishy washywhen you fire anyone again let him stay fired i really dont expect alot out of bain town.i was hoping youd be the one,anyway you still got some time,i will be watching.

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

PERFECTLY PUT! You are absolutely right. Fear, greed, weakness, or a combination of all three, keep pushing this lot closer and closer to the precipice. Once over the edge, there is no going back.

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Sickened 1 week, 2 days ago

Correct! Just bulldoze the friggin illegal homes and then let them sue the government. It will be years before it ever goes to court and by that time the claimants will have smuggled their way into the U.S. and will never return for the hearing. People seem to think that the Hatian's currently here have been here for 10, 20, 30 years. They haven't. They only come for a few years build their boxes and then sell it to the next guy once they save up for their smugglers fee. They leave any papers behind as part of the deal and the next guy takes over his identity and history.

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licks2 1 week, 2 days ago

The key word here is "interlocutory" injunction. . .nobody make a move anywhere. . .government don't broke down nothing. . .persons off the shanty towns don't go back. . .at least until the judge hears the case on the 16th. The government is not told to stop. . .just don't do anything until the court takes a look see. . .

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Voltaire 1 week, 2 days ago

What are you people talking about? What illegal immigrants that built illegally on the land? The government's own study says that only 5% of shanty town residents are illegal immigrants. So 95% are citizens, residents or work permit holders. Go back where? And as far as building illegally is concerned, the lawsuit points out that Over the Hill has the same challenges. Should we bulldoze Bain and Grants Town too? Please try not to let your ethnic hatred run away with you and actually use your brains.

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licks2 1 week, 1 day ago

You just stop being a liar. . .5% are permanent residents or citizenship. . .the others are illegals or permit holders!! And what lawsuit are you talking about. . .THEY NEVER FILED ANY SUIT. . .THEY HAVE NO GROUNDS TO DO SO!! They filed for an injunction. . .and interlocutory injunction was given. . .the judge said stop until she can see the government papers and proofs. . .shanty town clearing goes on in the family islands!! You are letting your ethnic bias make a liar out of you! Read the history of the land grants in the bain and grants towns. . .Haitian stole lands and free hold blacks in those areas were granted lands by freehold owners. . .

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 2 days ago

Voltaire, hatred? Ok, let's talk sympathy then. Sympathy instead of hatred. Where will the sympathy be for the minority of only 254 (two hundred fifty four) Bahamians that will be left in the entire Bahamas in the year 2037? Will there be a Q.C. in shining armor picking up his/her phone to defend them?

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Voltaire 1 week, 1 day ago

Utter alarmist, insecure racist nonsense. Illegal migration has been going on for more than 50 years in its current form and there are 7000 people living in shanty towns. Out of almost 400,000. They are really about to take over??? Give me a break. Its just a way to justify hatred of a group you want to see 'cleansed' from the country because of where they are from.

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

The immigration situation in the Bahamas is WAY OUT OF CONTROL. Open your eyes. Read the creole signs. Listen to the advertisements on the radio. See all the flags on the cars. Look at all of the foreigners taking advantage of Bahamian education and heath and welfare systems. Look at the names on the police wanted posters. Listen to the language spoken around you or do you live in a bubble? Do you even know what the ancestors of these people did in their homeland between 1791 and 1804? The French revolution was a joke in comparison......

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 2 days ago

Re: Well_mudda_take_sic is completely right about this being a distraction. When you want to steal something, distract the security guard. My poor Bahamian people, don't you understand by now. This entire shantytown issue was a red herring. They ran interference, and you fell for it completely. They don't give half a damn about the shantytowns. What did they distract you from? They sold BEC. They transferred a priceless monopoly to a foreign company without you even realizing it. They left all the debt behind in the old company for Bahamians to pay for and transferred the monopoly rights to generate power in The Bahamas into eternity to a private company!!! You can bet the MPs will either get equity in the power company or finders fee. Either way, they got away with it free as a bird, and the worthless PRESS didn't even notice!!! Power generation is one of the most sought after prizes for multinational companies, but Bahamians don't even care.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 1 day ago

And it's the wealthy residents of Albany, Lyford Cay and Old Fort who are going to pay a very dear price for the deal that our government has apparently struck with Shell North America. They are going to soon find their neck of the woods destroyed by a dangerous and environmentally harmful massive LNG bunkering, refueling and transshipment facility that no authority would allow to be built anywhere along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. And to think these wealthy foreign folks in their gated communities were worried about their property tax. Now they really have something to worry about!

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Cas0072 1 week, 1 day ago

This FNM administration is simply not willing to tackle illegal immigration and the eradication of shantytowns. They cannot be so stupid as to be unable to get illegally built homes and buildings shut down. If so, they all need to resign.

If not, then this exercise is the charade many thought it to be. Like the Jean Rony case, they will comply with whatever Fred Smith demands while appearing to put up a fight. All this so they can then say to the Bahamian people, “our hands are tied.” Illegal shanty towns will sprawl out into perpetuity and Haitian nationals like Rony or whatever his name (or true dob), can work and live freely without fear of apprehension. As per his usual, I bet that Minnis is getting ready to visit that Haitian church this Sunday to low key apologize for giving the appearance of wanting to uphold the laws of the Bahamas.

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Voltaire 1 week, 1 day ago

The government says many homes in Bain and Grants Town are illegally built. Should they bulldoze those too?

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Cas0072 1 week, 1 day ago

Yes, if that is indeed the case. Unlike the shanty towns, the homes in those Over the Hill communities deteriorated over time, but were built at a time when indoor plumbing, electricity, etc., were not the norm. Many can probably be salvaged. Shanty towns, regardless of the year of construction, start out as unsanitary eyesores and they continue to be unsanitary eyesores founded by illegal immigrants to support illegal immigration.

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mandela 1 week, 1 day ago

Even if the houses in Bains and Grants Town were illegally built they were not built on crown land.

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licks2 6 days, 11 hours ago

How come only you can find that information. . .Bahamians are normally compliant with building codes now, in the past and in the future!! That's why Bahamians are so against you and your people in building anywhere. . .on any land.. . in any condition . . .IN OUR COUNTRY!!

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Sickened 1 week, 1 day ago

Our AG must resign over this mess as one would assume that he green-lighted the move on shanty towns based on law. If he didn't or can't interpret the government's rights properly then 'he gots to go'!

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Cas0072 1 week, 1 day ago

Some unscrupulous farmers and government officials may have given some Haitians ‘permission’ to build, and they should be held accountable too. Fool yourselves with the poor Haitian narrative, but they know exactly what they are doing when the build on property that they do not own. The blog entry below was from 2010 and posted on Facebook years ago. Henry probably already has a title to the property he illegally built on. http://eleuthera-bahamas.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-friend-henry-from-eleuthera.html

“It became immediately apparent from the accent this gentleman was from Haiti . . .” “I can’t resist and I ask him what he's doing. Turns out he's trying to clear the area so he can claim the property; something the Bahamian government provides for its people. You clear the land in certain areas and you can apply for ownership -- just like homesteading in the Wild West. You gotta love it. We use Caterpillars back home and Henry uses a good ole Machete. This guy has heart.”

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bogart 1 week, 1 day ago

At the same time the authorities are dealing with illegal structures.....they must have the Aufitor General Terrance Bastian do the AUDIT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION........IN ALL DA DECADES OF IMMIGRATION ...COLLECTING REVENUE...ISSUING PERMITS....VISAS....PEOPLE GETTIN STRAIT........NEVER YET SEEN ONE LIC YET OF ANY AUDIT OF IMMIGRATION......correct me if I wrong....buts plenty issues done come up over years wid Road Traffic...BPL...W&S...Bansi...jus about every odder area....

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Would they dare? Think of all the dirt. Enough to turn us into an agricultural archipelago and bury plenty people under that dirt at the same time.

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bogart 1 week, 1 day ago

......well they have recently .....for the first time ....after decades .......of persons seeking Citizenship and Notices posted in the daily papers.........requesting....if the public has any information as to anything against applicants .mussey like..terrorists..?.....murderers...money launderers..fake name people....human traffickers..gang members...bigamists....id tiefs....Fox Hill prison attendees....illegal migrants....criminals.... bad people...to advise the Minister.....FINALLY PUT A PHOTO TO ID THE PERSON.......,!!!!!!....the US...quite likely told dem its common sense if you wants people to identify anyone for citizenship an US visa you should put a picture wid notice...!!!....now hope dese paper notices in da Island Commissioners offices...an shantytown notice boards....an hopes da govt gives lil reward to people for information..!!!

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