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No Going Back: Bethel Rejects Smith Plea To Postpone Demolition Deadline

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel yesterday rejected an appeal for the government to stall shanty town evictions pending looming court action from a group of 200 residents.

Human rights attorney Fred Smith, QC, sent the plea to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Mr Bethel and other senior government members on behalf of residents of shanty towns in New Providence and Abaco.

The July 29 letter was sent on behalf of approximately 200 residents of “unregulated communities across the islands of New Providence and Abaco,” and a non-governmental organisation called Respect Our Homes Limited (ROHL).

ROHL was formed, according to the letter, with the object of advocating human rights causes of the occupants of unregulated communities in the Bahamas.

Residents in New Providence were given until August 10 to vacate their homes before the structures are bulldozed, while evictions for those in Abaco are slated for next year.

“No the government has announced a timeline,” Mr Bethel said yesterday, “we extended that timeline. That time is up, when it is up and the government will proceed. And any attempts by this so-called company Respect Our Homes Limited will be vigorously resisted by the state, any attempts to seek group or collective rights over and above what the law provides for the individual. We will be vigorously defending the right of the committee and government to assert law and order.”

Mr Bethel insisted residents with cogent, legitimate rights or expectations could present their claim to the Shanty Town Action Task Force.

Earlier this month, the government delayed its July 31 deadline for shantytown evictions until August, to ensure that it covered “all legal grounds,” according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who heads the task force.

Mr Foulkes previously said all the properties being used for unregulated communities, with the exception of one, is constituted as Crown land leased by the government to Bahamians for the purpose of farming.

Yesterday, Mr Smith said: “If they’re on government land and the government thinks they’re trespassing, well take them to court and evict them. Just like when you’re a landlord of a property you have to go to court to evict them. They now admit in their public utterances, that most people are tenants of the Crown.

“If they’re tenants of the Crown,” Mr Smith continued, “why not pursue their right to title through the courts? They don’t want to do that because people would have possessory title and adverse title under the Limitation Act. That’s the problem they face, because even if those properties were rented out as farm land, the fact is they have been farmed and as urbanisation expanded to those areas, the government made them stop.

“And if you go out to many of these shantytowns, they are farming on that land. You can’t stand by and let somebody break your lease for five, ten, 30, 45 years – it’s called acquiescence, waiver, adverse title.”

Mr Smith added: “They have a big problem on their hands, and so they should because they’ve allowed people to build homes, to create a life, to create communities on these properties, you don’t bulldoze them overnight.”

In his letter to the government, Mr Smith claims the policy to eradicate unregulated communities “is unconstitutional and infringes the guarantee against freedom from discrimination embodied” in the Constitution.

However, Mr Bethel yesterday said he doubts Mr Smith will be able to marshal a specific interest that is common to everybody to satisfy the country’s law on class action suits.

Mr Bethel said: “There may well be legitimate issues that individuals may have. The government is not insensitive to matters that concern individual rights or expectations. If people have legitimate rights or expectations they are able to make representation or someone may make representation on their behalf. Nobody is insensitive to the rights of individuals.”

He continued: “(The letter) it appears to be a transparent attempt to create some entitlement for this company to enforce group or collective assertion of rights. This letter is an attempt to get around Bahamian law. In my view, it does not have the merit that it purports to have, that is all.

“Individuals have rights peculiar to themselves, and those rights will not be pushed aside and discounted. Any cogently advanced right that has grounding in law will not be ignored. But this attempt in this letter in my view to get around provisions of law is transparent and in my view, useless.”

Comments

OriginalBey 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Typical high-powered attorney tactic. Exploit the law and create continuous delays until the government gets frustrated and bends to the will of law breakers. I hope the administration does follow through on its commitment. Enough is enough. Shanty town residents welcome to adulthood!

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sirD 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Stop living on free land

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Voltaire 2 weeks, 2 days ago

The government's White Paper on Over the Hill rehabilitation says most people in Bain and Grants Town are also living on "free land" which is to say that just like in the shanty towns, land title is unclear. Should we kick them out too? Or are they of the "right" ethnicity to be allowed to stay?

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licks2 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Man stop your lowbrow lies. . .those lands were land grants given by freehold owners. . .read the Bahamas Historical Society issue about how free blacks and former slave came to own those lands. Paul Adderley and an American out of Savanna Georgia traced those ownership of all lands occupied by maroon, slave and free hold blacks. I think the issues is for 1986 or there abouts. The lands were "free land" because they were granted to them by free hold owners. . .who themselves were granted those lands by the crown first. . .then hey gave them to black tradesmen so that they can be near the city center. . .those lands were not crow lands when they were given to the blacks!!

This kind of dumb attempts to justify foolishness only add more hurt to the plight of the Haitian people. . .be truthful or just shut the hell up!!

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SP 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Get rid of Fred Smith and the parasites he represents!

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geostorm 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Way to go Attorney General! Bahamians are being evicted every day from their homes what makes illegal immigrants different. Fred Smith needs to channel his energies towards ensuring that Haitian immigrants take the proper steps to work and live in the Bahamas.that would be beneficial to both sides.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Thank God that Minnis had the sense to put someone as smart as Carl Bethel as our AG. I see a position as PM in Carl's future.

It is time for the soldiers of this invading army to be dealt with. Follow in the steps of Hungary, Pohland, Czechoslovakia, and now most recently ... Italy.

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Ma Comrade AG Carl Wilshire appears unconvinced by the pleas King's Counsel Freddy. The Shantytowns must cease to exist but is there logic to the argument that the government cannot simply bulldoze down peoples possessions and dump their children's out onto the streets. There has to be a coming together that does not take away the Shantytowns time is over... Seems fair comprise when not a single MP or senator have been arrested and charged failure file financial disclosures. Hasn't the MP's and senators time come and gone... how long now under Minnis and Carl Wilshire.... they should have done be nearing fifty percent time served their 2 years jail sentences. { Just can't makes up such discriminatory injustice }.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Tal - why don't you petition government to increase the employee contribution portion of NIB by 10 percentage points? from 3.4 up to 13.4? They can use the extra 10% from everybody's salaries to pay all the bills and livings expenses of people of Haitian descent. We can pay their light bills, and buy uniforms for the kids to attend our free public schools, and if there are too many seats filled at the govt clinic, we can use some of the money on those mornings, to taxi some of them over to a private clinic and pay the private doctor bills for them. We can also pay our defense forces to station 3 of our large RBDF ships in the southern seas and await the approach of a sloop and offer them a free ride to Nassau. The officers can photograph the persons and take their names and date of birth etc and send that info by satellite internet to Nassau and the Passport office can print their spanking new passports and have one of their officers meet the ship at the base on arrival and hand out the passports as they debark. Then fuel up, turn around, and head south to pick up the next group. I'm sure more and more sloops will be there waiting over time as the word gets out. Let's bring in like 2 million between now and Christmas. There are 12 million down there, so that will leave us some to bring in next year. In the meantime, we can send the police around to just start going to Bahamian homes and shooting Bahamians dead and let the undertakers cart them off, leaving the homes vacant and available for these new Bahamian passport holders. Sounds like a good plan? Would you and Fred be happy with that?

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OriginalBey 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Add in the requirement that RBDF officers must become fluent in Creole so they can communicate effectively and I think Fred will sign off on that. I am so fascinated how we allow our political biases to drive us to challenge everything an administration does. If this were the PLP in power TAL wouldn't have said a peep.

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Ma Comrade The Mad, is you now giving us more information that this going be the "heart" of Imperial red shirts cabinet's argument bulldozing children's out onto busy traffic streets - before Judge?

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DDK 2 weeks, 2 days ago

You have outdone yourself, Oh Mad One!

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bogart 2 weeks, 2 days ago

I hears you MadHatter...dese orders are likely to be rescinded.to stop der bulldozers ...once da wimmen starts talking who da babies daddies are ....watch da play...see if what I saying aint da truth.......lol

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Voltaire 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Smith's point is that there is a clear case of discrimination going on here. The government says the shanty towns are unregulated. Ok, but then they have also admitted that Over The Hill communities are unregulated, and face the same sanitation, building code and land title issues as shanty towns. Also, the Shanty Town Task Force found that only 6% of those living in shanty towns are illegal. The other 94% have a right to be here. So, why is the government rehabilitating Over the Hill but demolishing shanty towns if their issues are almost identical and if neither is populated by a majority of illegals? There an only be one answer, because one is populated by Bahamians and the other by mostly legal Haitians. That is discrimination and it is illegal in The Bahamas. Read the constitution.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Voltaire - then maybe we need a referendum to adopt Haiti's Constitution as our own. Then we can do what the Haitian government would do if a large group of Bahamians went down there and tried to do what the Haitians are doing here.

No Bahamians have done this - because they have better sense, and know that such foolishness would not be tolerated by the Haitian government.

Let's make the Haitian Constitution our own - then maybe we can be a Bahamas that is owned and run by Bahamians.

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Voltaire 2 weeks, 2 days ago

MadHatter, how does that follow from what I said? We don't need the Haitian constitution, our own constitution says what the government is doing is illegal. Please read carefully and don't allow your ethnic hatred to cloud your vision. There is zero justification for this policy and it is baldfaced discrimination.

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Voltfaire, thanks for posting something reasonable amongst a parcel of unpleasant racist ranting. Problem is so many in this country have never even seen a copy of the constitution let alone actually read it.

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Voltaire 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Thanks. I'm glad somebody has some sense.

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licks2 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I do agree to that. . .I am sure that you and Voltaire have never even smelled one before. . .and if yinna did. . .yinna are just down right lying!

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licks2 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Hahahahahahahahahaha. . .no wonder the rest of the "human rights" world een taking no time with yinna foolishness. . .yoon making no dang sense there fella! Perhaps you should go and read that same document. . .for there my fellow you will find the best impetus for what the government is doing! I suggest that you just shut ya mouth in this one because the more you open ya mouth the less sense you make and you make the Haitian people less "likable" in the eyes of the public. . .THEY SEE YOUR STUPIDITY AND FIGHT BACK AT YOUR DUMBNESS. . .losing the sight of the real people who need consideration here. . .those that a Bahamians who live there!! I hope you noticed that I said Bahamians who live there. . .ethnicity is a non-issue here. . .

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bogart 2 weeks, 2 days ago

...Now is a good time fer da Shantytown residents to start calling names....who dey pays money to for .....illegal electricity hook ups.....who dey paid money to to get illegal water hookup....who dey pays money to who visits to condemn construction but did not.......who puts notices to condemn but did not....who dey pays money to build illegal structures....all who dey pays money to.....its time dey starts singing........!!!!

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bogart 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Where Sheeprunner....???....he aint show up past number a days....Sheeprunner where you is...???

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Help!! Ma Comrades, me doing research on time when there were 'white female Jockeys' at Hobby Horse Hall Race Track?

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jackbnimble 2 weeks, 2 days ago

The Government must use every resource to fight this. The man clearly has a stick in his.crack for illegals and has made it his life’s mission to frustrate law and order and process at every turn. Mind you he knows he doesn’t have a case but instead of using his talents to encourage the people to obey the law he looks for loopholes to help them to break it.

It’s madness and it has to be stopped!

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Voltaire 2 weeks, 2 days ago

No case? Lol Smith will win. If not at the Supreme Court then at the Court of Appeal, and CERTAINLY at the Privy Council, which exists outside our hotbox of ethnic hatred and paranoia. Let me say it again for jackbnimble" "Smith's point is that there is a clear case of discrimination going on here. The government says the shanty towns are unregulated. Ok, but then they have also admitted that Over The Hill communities are unregulated, and face the same sanitation, building code and land title issues as shanty towns. Also, the Shanty Town Task Force found that only 6% of those living in shanty towns are illegal. The other 94% have a right to be here. So, why is the government rehabilitating Over the Hill but demolishing shanty towns if their issues are almost identical and if neither is populated by a majority of illegals? There an only be one answer, because one is populated by Bahamians and the other by mostly legal Haitians. That is discrimination and it is illegal in The Bahamas. Read the constitution. "

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licks2 2 weeks, 1 day ago

That's you problem. . .you don't know much and keep running ya mouth!! Check your information in the Turks and Caicos Islands. . .the British took Haitians off crown land. . .broke down their houses that were up to code and nobody could do one thing. The Dominican Republic broke down shanty homes, put all Haitians out of their countries if the could not prove a right to DR citizenship and all the HR groups around the world was beg for consideration. . .nobody could not stop them!!

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bogart 2 weeks, 1 day ago

WELL MONKEY ONCLE...,,.,COMPARING ..........OVA DA HILL COMMUNITIES WID........ SHANTY TOWNS...WELL IF YINNA WANTIN TO KNOWS DAS HOW DA OVA DA HILL GETS DAT WAY...NEEDING REJUNIVATION....JUS DONT GETS ME STARTED.....1...ALL DA ILLEGALS FIND SANCTUATY IN DA SHANTYTOWNS WORKING FER LESS DAN WHAT WAS EQUILIBRIUN PRICE OF WAGES SUPPLIED BY LEGAL BAHAMIAN WORKERS AN DEMAND BY BUSSINESS ALLTINGS BEING EQUAL FER MANUAL BLUE COLLAR LABOUR DAT DA OVA DA HILL LEGAL BAHAMIANS SUPPLIED...cause illegal labourers undercutting roaching Bahamian workers decades ago....plusin dumb talk from some people saying ainy Bahamians work...an dey later say dey wrong fer dat..2...ALL PIECES OF LAND IN DA OVA DAHILL HAD REGULATED LAYOUT...ROADS..ACCESS...SETBACKS....SPACE FER EVACUATING...WATER PROVISIONING... SEWAGE SYSTENS WHETHER CESSPIT OR SEWERLINE..aint likes da close clustered shanty if one buildong fall down it mashing another and fire an heat in narrow path is deathtrap...3..OVA DA HILL LAND HAS LEGAL SQ FEET ALLOTMENT..PLOTPLAN...TITLED NUMBERING SYSTEM..STREET...ELECTRICAL LIGHT PROVISIONING WIT TRANSFORMERS ETC...if Bahamian owners cant find dere title papers dey can always goes to lands an survery...property tax...computer title seatch....but guarranteed each piece gats owner...!.,.,dey just needs to hav family discussions...strong talks?? as to who grammy leaves it to.....4....OVA DA HILL HAS REGULATED...LIBRARIES...COMMUNITY MEETING PLACES...POLICE DTATIONS...CLINICS...saying we OVA DA HILL ...COMPARING TO UNREGULATED SHANTYTOWN...shouldnt warrant wasting response an clearly people doing so is ferreigners obviously dont know Ova Da Hill.....

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bogart 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Ova da Hill having challenges wid land titles has to do wid the owner passing away and no eil...one time the eldrst male owns it..many cases after was persons moving out and cousons and other family members or close family coming to Nassau from the family islands for an education......property then is maintained by them..then it is lived in by their children...one incomplete two story huilding on Wulff rd is one such story wid dispute...to cut a long story short successive occupants moved in the legal ways.......an while there are searches to be done for many .....mamy also can be Quieted to assert ownership..many businesses such as the "chinese" grocery stores, "greeks" churches , gas stations, old time night clubs, and properties wid commervial valus would have up to date land papers.and there are many which have lamd papers held by banks as collateral by banks...to want to compare iĺegal shanty towns wid Ova da Hill is disingenious....and to many Bahamians in light of sinister measures to colonize we Bahamas is being provocative and getting to the point of inciting an escallating challenges faced by all.....what these SHANTYTOWN LEADERS...ADVOCATES should be ALSO RIGOROISLY DOING WITH HAITIAN NATIONALISTIC...LAW ABIDING PATRIOTIC FERVOR.. is demonstrating to the Bahamian public PUBLICTLY dat they are ALSO.... encouraging any of these persons who are ILLEGALS TO RETURN TO HAITI....they should be arranging to any persons to get Haitian passports...and other documentation....just just arguing every possible way to settle persons wjo broke the laws..arguments anyone can see through...stuck innpcent Bahamian pore tax payers to foot aĺl these bills And in light of increased BAHAMIAN DETERMINATION TO TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR NATIOAL INTERESTS....LAND AND WATERS...is not helping... MAKE THE BAHAMAS BETTER AGAIN..!!!!!

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licks2 1 week, 2 days ago

Quieted can only be done if the owners cannot be found. . .and you can't squat on crown land and then ask to get ownership of it!

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