‘Rake and scrape’ days are over

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel.

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel.


Tribune Chief Reporter


ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel yesterday discouraged ethnic profiling and sweeping apprehensions as he remarked on the government’s difficulty in defending its position in court on immigration matters.

Mr Bethel underscored the Minnis administration’s holistic approach to the “influx of undocumented migrants” as a guest on “Z Live” with host Zhivargo Laing, noting “the government loves to make private sector lawyers rich.”

He flagged the importance of upcoming legislation regulating the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, and increasing penalties for persons who hire illegal immigrants.

“It’s a holistic approach,” he said, “we’re not simply knee-jerking and saying ‘oh increases in penalties, that’s it’ we feel good and pat ourselves on the back.

“It’s combined also with trying to set up legal frameworks to avoid any abuses or potential abuses of entitlements, constitutional rights etc. I had reason to say recently that the government loves to make private sector lawyers rich because it seems that successive governments keep doing the same things, in the same way. They (private lawyers) take a judicial review matter and go and make millions off the government in freeing people who really ought never to have been detained, or if detained they ought to have been processed and released and this goes on all the time.

“So the idea is to have a holistic, sustainable, and we think because it will be consistent and persistent and cover a range of areas, we think it will be a successful programme.”

When asked by Mr Laing about societal expectations for tangible results, which were often equated to the volume of migrant apprehensions and deportations, Mr Bethel suggested it was time to move away from “crack-downs” in lieu of a more sustainable approach.

Mr Bethel said: “You can’t rake and scrape every person who sounds foreign, looks foreign, doesn’t have they’re papers and lock them away. You must just to avoid the legal problems that the government gets itself into, go through the process of properly analysing and screening and separating those who have some entitlement, those who have a work permit, from those who are plainly undocumented.”

He continued: “At the end of the day though the best defence we’re going to have against this continued onslaught of undocumented economic migrants is going to be if we are able to show the good faith of a government prepared to give right where it’s due.

“What we really have to do is get rid of the underground railroad, we have to get rid of the facilitators within the community, people who facilitate the continued influx of the undocumented. To do that you have to build a consensus with those who are entitled to be here.”

Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton is expected to deliver his ruling today on more than a dozen habeas corpus applications brought against the government in recent months.

Notable cases include deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles and the fate of a pregnant wife of a Bahamian man facing deportation.

Those persons are being defended by QCs Fred Smith and Damian Gomez, and their respective juniors Crispin Hall and Nicholas Mitchell Jr.

Last year, Jamaican Matthew Sewell, who spent nine years in and out of prison and the Carmichael Road Detention Centre without trial, was awarded a $125,000 settlement in Supreme Court.


My2centz 6 years, 2 months ago

This government lawyer seems unaware that "entitlements" end after 19 and is not a constitutional right. If they want to change the law to include birthright citizenship they should do that so persons won't be detained and resources won't be wasted. "Legally" enforcing something that is not law has to be far worse than a "rake and scrape" approach. It shows incompetence or blatant disregard for the law by the persons meant to uphold it.


birdiestrachan 6 years, 2 months ago

They must do what the man who gave the FNM Party an undisclosed donation tells them to do he runs things. and they will be asking him for another undisclosed donation. that is just how it is.


BahamasForBahamians 6 years, 2 months ago

Must be a tight situation for the attorney general.

These guys pretty much agreed with and accepted money from every and anyone to be elected to power - even those that didn't make much sense or with questionable backgrounds.

Now the party finds itself, trying to draft policy that doesn't offend their supporters or people that they embraced but still want to appear to be in the best interest of the people.

The attorney general goes in so far as to make specific hints at a particular lawyer and situation but still plays it safe by not singling out the offender.. maybe he wants to ensure donation and support remains intact come 2022 ?

You can't have your cake and eat it too, Carl!


OldFort2012 6 years, 2 months ago

A holistic approach starts with securing the border and making sure no more come.

With today's advanced drone & many other technologies, securing the southern approaches is not difficult or expensive. I have never understood what the RBDF are doing on New Providence. Defending us from the USA? Move them to Inagua & Crooked and hermetically seal the drugs and people routes.

Oops. I forgot that the smugglers paid for your election campaign, so....forget the above. Silly suggestion.


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