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Insight: Five Years Of Shattered Dreams

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Dahene Nonord

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

AFTER waiting nearly five years for a response on her citizenship application, a Bahamas-born woman is petitioning the courts for a judicial review and constitutional relief amid allegations of abuse and harassment by immigration officers.

Dahene Nonord, 23, says the lengthy delay has rendered her a “broken hearted vessel of shattered dreams”, putting her life on hold indefinitely while she lives with no documentation to protect her from arrest and deportation.

Since graduating from Anatol Rodgers High School, she has deferred numerous opportunities for further education and travel, including her dream of enlisting in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

She is seeking a judgement on the government’s failure or refusal to make a determination on her citizenship application submitted in September 2013; a declaration that the lengthy delay breached her constitutional rights; and an order requiring the government to either register her as a citizen or exercise its discretion in a timely manner.

Her application also asks for an interim injunction restraining officials from deporting her before such a determination can be heard.

The ex parte application was filed on July 27 against Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, in his capacity presiding over proceedings of the Immigration Board; Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette; the Board of Immigration; Director of Immigration Clarence Russell; and Attorney General Carl Bethel.

The application read: “Mrs Nonord’s certificate of identity has expired. Without any documentation establishing Ms Nonord’s connection to The Bahamas and permitting her to remain freely within the Bahamas; and without Ms Nonord being registered as a citizen of The Bahamas she is unable to attend school, work, travel, register under the National Insurance Act and obtain assistance and benefits and participate or open a bank account.

“Her life is effectively on hold.

“All the while she lives in fear of arrest and deportation…she has been subjected to arbitrary and illegal search and detention and beatings as a result of being unable to produce documentation to establish her legal right to remain in the Bahamas.”

Ms Nonord’s parents are Haitian citizens and legally reside in The Bahamas, according to her affidavit, which makes clear she has never travelled outside the country.

She was granted a certificate of identity on April 4, 2011, but it expired on April 3, 2016.

Ms Nonord applied for citizenship at 18 in 2013 and also submitted to a request for additional documents.

Her interview was conducted in 2014, according to her affidavit, which stated she was told she had scored a “C” and would be given a date to take the oath of allegiance.

She said it was the last time she had any successful communication with the Department of Immigration concerning her application despite numerous visits by herself and attorney to inquire about its status.

During a visit in October 2017, she alleges she was told they could not locate her file. A letter was sent by her attorneys requesting urgent action but there has been no response to date.

She says harassment and abuse by immigration officers started in December 2013, and believes this treatment and subsequent delays in processing her application is motivated by animosity, prejudice or discrimination towards her.

In her supporting affidavit, she outlines five incidents with police and immigration officers, where she accuses officers of harassment, battery and abuse.

The first incident allegedly occurred in the early morning on December 3, 2014, when she was apprehended by Immigration officers on Cow Pen Road after she could not produce any documentation.

After she refused to stop, four immigration officers grabbed her and placed her in handcuffs as she struggled.

Once inside the bus, she said one of the officers grabbed her neck and began choking her.

She was then taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre where she was allegedly heckled by officers who made fun of her name and made hurtful and sarcastic remarks.

She was allegedly further beaten by two female immigration officers, who told others she had to be handcuffed and restrained because she had tried to attack them.

“At this point,” the affidavit read, “I was surrounded by two female officers and three to four male officers. A male officer handcuffed my feet using tie straps and threw me on to the floor. An unidentified police officer in uniform, then lifted me up by my pants and dragged me across the floor. One of the two female immigration officers who had beaten me exclaimed: ‘This bitch, I will kill this bitch, I will kill her, I will kill this bitch, I will kill her’.”

Ms Nonord said she was taken to the front section of the centre and after sometime was allowed to contact her parents and was released some 45 minutes later.

She was told by her parents they had presented her certificate of identity and birth certificate.

Before leaving, Ms Nonord said she reported the alleged abuse to the officer in charge of the CRDC, and upon overhearing, the officers alleged she had bitten them on their fingers.

She denied having ever bitten them or anybody else.

She further alleges the officers then asked for the proper spelling of her name so they could file a report against her.

A medical report attached to her affidavit, stated she was seen by a doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital on December 3, and diagnosed with soft tissue injury to her chest wall and right thigh.

On December 29, 2014, Ms Nonord was apprehended while walking on Golden Isles corner during a “round up” in the Carmichael area. She had noticed Immigration officers questioning people and had began recording them to share with human rights group Rights Bahamas.

She said she ran when she was spotted by officers, but was caught by a female officer she recognised from the previous incident.

The officer began choking her, and she says, bit her hand in self-defence because she could not breathe.

She was then handcuffed by two other officers and further beaten by the female officer, who put her inside a car and continued to punch her in the head.

Ms Nonord said she was then taken to the Carmichael Road Police Station, where she told police she had been beaten and did not feel well.

An ambulance was called and she was taken to hospital. An attached report indicates she was seen and diagnosed with soft tissue injury to the back, neck and upper limbs. Clinical examination also documented abrasions, a contusion and neck tenderness.

The following morning, she was taken to Magistrate’s Court and charged with obstruction and assault.

She plead guilty and was granted bail.

However, while waiting in a holding cell for bail, she alleges she was picked up and body slammed by a police officer, who then punched her in her back and legs.

Ms Nonord was convicted and ordered to pay a $400 fine and has appealed the matter.

The fourth incident took place on May 19, 2015, when police came into their community with guns drawn.

“My mother and I were watching what was going on at our fence,” the affidavit read.

“We were not interfering in any way. Shortly after the arrival of the police officers, a female officer shouted, “That’s the bitch that bit the immigration officer standing by the fence.”

Ms Nonord said an officer immediately rushed up to her, grabbed her neck and started to choke her.

She further alleged the officer threw her against the fence, and was joined by a few other officers in punching her in her back, legs, and face despite her cries for mercy.

Ms Nonord said her brother returned during the ordeal after he heard the crying and screaming and was also grabbed by officers.

She and her brother were put on the police bus and handcuffed to the seat bars.

She claims an officer began shouting that he would burn down their house, adding her brother Geno was also slapped repeatedly by an officer while on the bus.

Ms Nonord alleges she was taken from the bus and into a room at the Carmichael Road Police Station where she was choked and slapped repeatedly by an officer - the fifth incident of abuse.

She was then placed in a dirty cell and refused use of the bathroom. According to her affidavit, police also refused a request by her lawyer Adrian Gibson for medical assistance.

She was brought before a Magistrate the following morning and charged with “threats of death, assaulting a police officer, disorderly behavior, obscene language, obstruction and resisting arrest”.

“I was in shock and in total disbelief, as it was Geno and me who had been nearly killed by the police,” her affidavit continued.

“I was detained from the morning of the May 19, 2015, until May 20, 2015, and was never offered anything to eat. I was forced to sleep on a cold concrete floor and denied access to the bathroom facilities despite constant begging,” it read.

“I was subjected to appalling inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of police officers.”

Ms Nonord and her brother Geno were discharged by Magistrate Ambrose Armbrister on March 23, and the government gave notice of its intention to appeal on March 29.

“The hardships that I have encountered as a child born in The Bahamas are inexpressible,” read her affidavit.

“I have met the worst forms of abuse, discrimination and victimisation as a human being, in my own country of birth.”

She said her last trip to the Immigration Department was in October 2017, when she was told by a staff member her file was removed after her “problem” with the Immigration officer.

Ms Nonord claims when her legal counsel inquired about her file, she was identified as the “young lady who bit the immigration officer and police” and told her file could not be found.

Since her application in 2013, Ms Nonord’s parents and younger siblings received permanent residency in April 2017, and her brother Geno was granted citizenship some two months later.

“I am afraid that I will be unlawfully expelled from The Bahamas before my application is found and processed,” her affidavit read.

“I am also afraid of being picked up and taken to [Carmichael Road Detention Centre] without anybody knowing and being held and beaten again.”

Ms Nonord also alleges she approached Immigration Minister Brent Symonette outside parliament in February to appeal for an intervention in her case.

She states he told her she didn’t need to reapply and that he would find her file. But has since not responded to her calls.

“I still do not have any “Papers”,” her affidavit read.

“I am terrified of being picked up again as the ‘Yellow Immigration Buses’ are still constantly conducting raids, round ups and stopping people in the buses and on the streets. They are even breaking down the doors of homes in the Cow Pen area where I reside which is near the [Carmichael Road Detention Centre].”

It continued: “Nearly five years after submitting my application and four years after being interviewed I still have no right to move about The Bahamas freely, live freely and work.”

Ms Nonord and her family are also part of legal action brought against the government over its decision to eliminate shanty towns throughout the country.

Comments

bogart 4 weeks, 1 day ago

THE BAHAMAS MINISTER OF EDUCATION SHOULD ALSO BE CHARDED IN THE LAWSUIT.......See the situation starts wid the Minister of Education saying ALL CHILDREN MUST BE GIVEN AN EDUCATION ....AN NO SCHOOL OFFOCIAL CANNOT ASK FOR WHETHER THEY ARE BAHAMIAN CITIZEN OR NOT...AN CANNOT ASK FOR OTHER PAPERS WHETHER THEIR PARENTS ARE BAHAMIAN CITIZENS OR NOT......See COMMON SENSE is if the child and psrents are not Bahamians investigations must happen....BAHAMAS IS A SOVEREIGN NATION WID INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF OF KNOW WHETHER HALF THE 50,000 GOVT SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE OF SOME OTHER NATIONALITY.....THE INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS OF NATIONAL SECURITY DOES NOT ALLOW FOR COUNTRIES TO INTENTIONALLY HARBOUR RESIDENTS WHOSE NATIONAL STATUS THEY REFUSE TO DETERMINE.....PARTICULARLY...WHEN THESE VERY SAME NON IDENTIFIEF ARE UNABLE TO GAIN THE LAWFUL STATUS THAT THEY EXPECT AFTER GRADUATING SCHOOL.....And the social unrest now being raised....Das why the Minister who puts dem dere in schools should be the one whose door they should be knocking at for resolution...!!!! Dont blame the people for lack of trying.....blame the govt official...!!!!

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My2centz 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Why is she still being considered for citizenship is the question. I'm sure it was her dream to be on the defence force so that she could disrespect Bahamian laws from the inside. However, as a 'citizen in waiting' she has shown zero respect for law enforcers...even sending one to the hospital. As she claimed it was the four of them that attacked her, but even the Tribune couldnt confirm her injuries. She then interfered with police officers as they tried to make an arrest...and they responded in kind. These two illegal acts alone should disqualify her from citizenship. She is no victim. She is a bigetty criminal with no remorse, or sense of responsibility for the role she played in her current circumstances.

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bogart 4 weeks, 1 day ago

@My2crntz.....like your research and the links..

Fully agree with your assessment...these illegal acts should disqualify persons ...and citizenship is not aitomatic at 18....hence the new found COMMONSENCE....IN PLACING A PHOTO ID ON citizenship notices now in daily papers..!!!!.....BUT...the Ministry of Education should be using COMMONSENSE....fully knowing thhese economic migrants fleeing abject grinding....condemned to perpetual poverty......given mathematical odds of doing better.....will ALWAYS head on some rickety boat ...and given the Bahamian Ministru ENCOURAGEMENT OF FREE EDUCATION WITH LAX RULES ON IDENTITY OF CHILD AND PARENTS....will make ANCHOR BABIES.....Bahamian themselves themselves do this in US...THE DILEMNA SEEMS TO BE THE FEW GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OUT PF A POPULATION OF 400,000 WANTING TO CONTONUE THIS POLICY....KNOWING THE INABILITY MATHRMATICAL GUARRANTEED LIKELIHOOD OF GIVING ALL CITIZENSHIP....on a timely basis ...knowing they will have to work illegally if they are to eat.....the few govt officials are forcing these persons to commit illegal acts....these few govt officials should not embarrass internationally the Bahamian nation with these stories of inhumanity....to some it may also seem that PORE BAHAMIAN TAXPAYERS ARE BEING GOOSIED BY THESE EMOTIONALLY VOTE GETTING ELECTION TALKS EVERY 5 YEARS ON ILLEGALS...which to some after 45 yeats of independence would be intentionally created by govt action of free schooling AT PORE TAXPAYERS VAT AN INCREASED VAT TAXES...to all knowing the outcome of not certifying citizenship atv18.....and winning election votes.....children in school amd parents hiding out in close knit shantytowns wprking illegally or on work permits renewed for 18 plus years.where general Bahamian population viewed as stangers....

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SP 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Send this Haitian girl and all like her to Haiti where they belong! She speaks Creole as her first language and knows all about Haitian culture. Hopefully, she will be there in time to celebrate Haitian flag day.

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bogart 4 weeks, 1 day ago

......cannot send her back .....because the Bahamian law says its illegal to not send the chillren to school...so she had to go to Bahamian school...an she was given an educayshun based on Bahamas....like Chridtopher Colu,bes doscovered her country the Bahamas...her great Bahamian heroines like Dame Doris Johndon...her great Bahamian leaders like Sir Linden Pindling...instead of Toussaint LOuverture Dessalines....she learns Bahamian cooking...not Lalu...legumes...she learns I pledge my Alliegence to the Bahamad.....Ministry of Education would have to compensate her millions ....noone should have the right to force educate anyone your education corruiculum if it is the intention of repatriating to a different country...it is time to hold he top echelons of the Education who enforce these rules....

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joeblow 4 weeks ago

The issue is whether or not her parents had LEGAL status at the time of her birth! If not then she is not automatically entitled to apply for Bahamian citizenship as that requirement is for the children born to LEGAL residents!

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jackbnimble 4 weeks ago

Actually, that's the issue with our stupid Constitution. It does not say the word "legal" and the Haitians have been taking advantage of if from creation to pop out babies and bring their bastard kids here for a free education all at out expense (thank God for a dumb Minister of Education who has now entrenched the right) and then assert a right to citizenship at 18.

We can cry blood and they will not fix it. Welcome to the modern day Baha-Haiti! Better yet, welcome to HAITI!!

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licks2 4 weeks ago

I know this female. . .fights at the drop of a hat. . .used by Smith and has wore her welcome out!! She is a criminal and constitutionally the government has the right to refuse her citizenship. . .she continually attacks persons. WHAT IS A CITIZEN IN WAITING? THERE IS NO SUCH CATEGORY IN OUR CONSTITUTION!! Smith was saying that foolishness all over the place until he got in court and was asked where he got that category from. . .he changed his talk in the Jean Rony case!

This female has already filed about six or seven cases claiming thew same thing. . .she is now deportable. . .she wants the court to prevent her from getting sent to Haiti. . .Smith made her a criminal. . .now she is ineligible for citizenship. . .THANKS TO SMITH!!

aS FOR HER NOT WORKING. . .CHECK ON ARAWAK CAY. . .SHE KEEPS GETTING FIRED BECAUSE OF HER CONSTANT FIGHTING WITH BOSSES, WORKERS AND ANYBODY CLOSE BY!! EVEN HAITIANS WITH BUSINESS DON'T WANT HER AROUND. . .SHE STAYS FIGHTING. . .EVERYBODY!!

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Sickened 4 weeks ago

You sure she's 23? With a receding hairline like that and such thin hair she may be much older. Perhaps she has taken on someone else's identity from an early age?

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jackbnimble 4 weeks ago

Lets just fix the problem. Find the file and DENY her citizenship and then deport her azz!!

She's not ENTITLED to any darned thing!

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