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'What A Waste Of Money’

A New Providence shanty town. Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

A New Providence shanty town. Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

HUMAN rights group Rights Bahamas is blasting the government’s intention to pay lawyers outside the Office of the Attorney General for representation in a major judicial review case about shanty towns, calling it a “waste” of money at a time when the government is cutting back on its school uniform budget for the less fortunate.

Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant Thompson granted leave last week for a judicial review of the government’s actions on the shanty towns. She subsequently granted an injunction preventing the government from demolishing homes in the areas.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Carl Bethel said the government has hired a team headed by Harvey Tynes, QC, to take on Fred Smith, QC, and his team in the matter.

Rights Bahamas, of which Mr Smith is former president, said of the move yesterday: “It is a crying shame that the Free National Movement government would seek to waste hundreds of thousands of public dollars, just to save face over its reckless and ill-conceived plan to exterminate certain irregular communities in the Bahamas.

“The move to hire outside attorneys is a slap in the face to the dozens of hard-working lawyers at the Attorney General’s Office, whose salaries are also paid by the public; as well as an insult to taxpayers, who are now essentially double-paying for the government’s legal bills. It is also a glaring admission that the government lacks confidence in its own position in the case. If the judicial review challenge before Justice Cheryl Grant-Bethel is so lacking in merit, as the government has suggested, then why resort to such drastic measures in fighting it?”

Mr Bethel has said the government views the challenge to its shanty town actions “with the utmost seriousness” and wants to meet the challenge vigorously, hence its “team of expert attorneys who are particularly experienced in the judicial review matters and constitutional matters before our courts.” 

In its statement, Rights Bahamas said yesterday: “Last month, Attorney General Carl Bethel said he doubts that any legal challenge to the government’s arbitrary eviction and demolition policy could be successful. Clearly now he knows better. Clearly now the FNM understands that the case brought by ROHL (Respect Our Homes Ltd) is very strong and that people’s fundamental rights are indeed being violated under the eradication policy. “Sadly, rather than retract the policy and agree to act in accordance with the rule of law, their response has been to put on a public relations song and dance, hiring expensive private lawyers for the duration of what is likely to be a lengthy legal contest, all in an effort to convince Bahamians who are angry at their handling of this, that the government is taking the matter seriously. An administration that claims to be the guardian of fiscal responsibility, a government so broke that it can no longer provide school uniforms to less fortunate children, has suddenly found the money to fund a team of top attorneys, meanwhile continuing to pay the entire Office of the Attorney General, essentially to sit on their hands and watch?”

As reported previously, the Department of Social Services’ uniform budget has been decreased from $360,000 last year to $270,000 this year.

“What a mess. Perhaps it would have been better not to stoke the fires of xenophobia and ethnic discrimination in the first place. Thankfully, regardless of who argues either side of the case, thanks to ROHL’s clients the legality of the government’s actions and stated intentions will now be put on trial and pronounced upon once and for all by a court of law. Rights Bahamas welcomes this and we are confident that, as usual, the judiciary will recognise and act to defend the fundamental rights of every individual who resides in this jurisdiction,” the statement noted.

Comments

Sickened 1 week, 4 days ago

We need to hire some professional lawyers because the ones in the AG's office certainly did not give government sound advice when they gave the green light to demolish. They should have anticipated some push back and possibly a court action and they should have had all of their support ready to present a judge. Our AG's office smells of incompetence!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 4 days ago

You only have to look at the millions of dollars spent by the Minnis-led FNM government on umpteen different investigations of alleged corruption and fraudulent activities by senior PLP officials in the previous government, yet not one of them will be found guilty and made to serve serious prison time. Throughout the last general election campaign Minnis stated time and time again that the last Christie-led PLP government was by far the most corrupt government the Bahamas has ever had, with millions and millions of dollars of the people's money squandered or not accounted for. Now when the next general election campaign comes around, the PLP led by Brave Davis will be able to assert that Minnis wasted millions and millions of dollars of the people's money on spurious investigations and witch hunts because not a single senior PLP official will have ended up being incarcerated for any crime. Just how stupid and irresponsible can Minnis be?!

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HonestTruth 1 week, 4 days ago

I’m usually not a big fan of wasting tax payer dollars, but I’m in huge supporter of this move. Hire the best lawyers to combat Fred Smith and knock all those shanty towns down!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 4 days ago

No Mr. Smith, the government - especially well seasoned servants like Carl Bethel - is well aware that the civil service is made up of both PLP and FNM supporters and that those on the opposite team will do everything they can to place banana peels by the feet of those trying to advance the government's agenda.

This is a wise move. If you want to find wasted money, look no further than the very same "school uniforms for the less fortunate" program. Haitians can divert some of the money marked for wire transfer and spend it on uniforms. Poor Bahamians will also therefore have less money to hire illegal Haitian gardeners with.

I applaud the government's continuation of this fight to save our country from take-over.

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DDK 1 week, 4 days ago

'Rights Bahamas" is certainly a misnomer. Respect Our Homes LTD., a registered company in OUR country for illegals doing illegal things on OUR land. These people preying on the Bahamas have unmitigated gall. Just deal with it Mr. Bethel!

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Sickened 1 week, 4 days ago

Mr. Bethel? He's not up to the challenge. It was a mistake appointing him AG or giving him any position for that matter.

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bogart 1 week, 4 days ago

Beey.....look where dey gone now....dese human rights people .....one hot mess..........complainin.....govt hiring lawyers to stop dere plans....of people buildong illegally in shanty town....whichiniin dey suing govt .....talking bout govt saving uniform money.....truth be told iffin ...dey serious dey should be ....looking out for the well being....of dose 2 mothers...... each wid 5 children apiece....!!!!!!.....dese human rights people......shore.....dont know shanty town conditioms....chillren playing in da dirt....pig goat ..chicken..nobody removing garbage...flies....place smellin.....dropcord....outhouse.....direlect cars...dey needs to get dese chillren outta dere....it aint healthy....!!!!!.....sad ting likes dey fighting...to keeps dese children in dose conditions....!!!...if dey human rights fer people to do better dey ed done move dem chillren inside dey own house.....stead a wasting money demselves suing gubbermint....!!!!!

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licks2 1 week, 4 days ago

They done lost. . .why you think them want to say government wasting money to fight them? They don 't have no case. . .not a dang piece!!

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mandela 1 week, 4 days ago

Whose money is it anyway?, Bahamians money, and this is a situation Bahamians want dealt with once and for all, so yes this will be money well spent and then we move on. All these groups just want to be relevant.

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hrysippus 1 week, 4 days ago

We are fortunate to have independent civil groups in this country that help to keep the government acting within the laws denoted by our constitution. Whether you support or oppose what the government is trying to do is not as important as keeping the actions of the government constitutional. Think PLP cabinet minister and political garbage cans; the legal system prevented further illegal actions of this elected state official. We need checks in the system to prevent abuse of power by those in power.

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CaptainCoon 1 week, 4 days ago

We need to change our immigration laws and deport. Too many bad hombres in there! Too long have they taken advantage of us, just like Trump says... mass deportations! Fred Smith is FAKE NEWS!

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birdiestrachan 1 week, 4 days ago

The Drama King is at it again. When has he ever cared about the Bahamas or its people There should be a shanty town right next to his home then he will sing a different tune. but beware of the DOGS

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SP 1 week, 4 days ago

The wellbeing of future generations of Bahamians is at stake and we the Bahamian people will spare no expense to our last penny and dying breath defending our country from these invading parasites!

Successive PLP and FNM administrations are held 100% accountable for allowing and encouraging these pests to invade our country for personal gain!

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