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‘I’Ll Sue To Save Shanty Homes’

The shanty town at Hamster Road, in southern New Providence, where demolition has already taken place. Photo: Morgan Graham

The shanty town at Hamster Road, in southern New Providence, where demolition has already taken place. Photo: Morgan Graham

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Attorney Fred Smith QC

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE government’s efforts to eradicate shanty town communities have come under fire, with prominent attorney and human rights activist Fred Smith yesterday threatening a lawsuit to block any attempts to raze homes in these areas.

Last night, Mr Smith insisted he would do all in his power to stop the government’s “indiscriminate and arbitrary” push to “destroy the lives of thousands of legal residents”.

“This is sickening destruction of the worst kind,” Mr Smith, QC, told The Tribune. “The government has taken to these communities with letters in hand to tell persons with nowhere left to go that their homes, many of which have been occupied for decades, will be torn down if they can’t give legal documents to say they have a right to be there.

“This is like Fred Mitchell’s immigration policy of treating people on the streets as outlaws because they don’t have papers. The government cannot be judge, jury and executioner at the same time. If these homeowners have broken the law, take them to court and prove it. People are innocent until proven guilty. What law have they broken to have their homes bulldozed? The government may as well bulldoze 90 percent of the homes Over-the-Hill.

“I’ve taken the day to go to these communities and speak with the residents. What I saw was government personnel walking through these communities and handing out notices without ascertaining any of the important factors. These are the homes of human beings, not rodents or livestock.

“Trust me,” he said, “I will do what needs to be done to stop this. If need be, I will bring a lawsuit against the government to stop them from tearing down homes, people’s kingdoms. It is not right or legal.”

Mr Smith said the government, in its haste to score cheap political points, failed to provide any recourse to those that could be adversely affected.

He said a large percentage of the homes being threatened by the government’s clampdown on shanty town communities are those of poor, legal residents struggling to make a life in the Bahamas.

“Many of them are still investing all they have in getting their legal documents in order. They are there because this is all they can afford. These are homes with toilets, with gas tanks, with working facilities. The narrative the government is pushing is that these are homes that are not up to par, some are not, but many are similar to the homes in Bain and Grants Town and all the other inner city communities; I don’t see any government officials walking through those communities with letter in hand.

“Why are we targeting these communities?

“Simple, they are poor, black, migrant, mostly Haitian ethnic communities,” he said. “Why are we threatening these residents with destruction and eviction? Take power, water, sanitation, paint and hope to them, just like the Minnis Over-the-hill economic free zones.”

Mr Smith said the government has failed to, in its attempt to eradicate shanty towns, provide due process.

“Some are renting here. Some, who are illegal and waiting to go through the process, are too afraid to come forward,” he said. “All the government did in these communities was threaten and promise doom, destruction, demolition and eradication as if these people are subhuman vermin with no human rights deserving only of eradication from the face of the earth.”

On Monday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes confirmed the start of the government’s three-part legal notice process for shanty town residents across the country, insisting the July 31 eviction deadline will be adhered to.

Mr Foulkes, who spearheads the government’s Shanty Town Action Task Force, confirmed officers sanctioned by the body had commenced the delivery of a request for shanty town residents to show legal documentation of their right to the lands they now occupy.

Despite government pronouncements, Mr Smith said the task force never showed will to “work with residents.”

“I was a member of the board when it was started, I was invited to be a part of it. All that was discussed was destruction. Once that was made clear, I resigned,” he told The Tribune.

“There was never talk about working to properly regulate these communities,” Mr Smith said. “There was never a conversation had that was built around going in and improving what needed to be addressed; none.

“I kept in contact with the minister. I have implored him and many ministers to address this matter from a standpoint of helping these communities to be regulated. These persons don’t have the means to go anywhere else. When you remove them from these communities, where do they go?

“When you go in and make these people homeless, you are creating the circumstances to breed crime. We don’t need that now,” Mr Smith added.

If shanty town residents cannot prove their legal right to reside in their homes, residents will be removed and the structures torn down.

Mr Foulkes said upon completion of this process, the government would have completely removed all debris, unsanctioned homes, derelict vehicles, outdoor toilets and abandoned animals from the properties – rendering the lots vacant.

Comments

John 1 year, 7 months ago

So Foulkes forget where ha pa from ay. Bahamians y’all better open y’all eyes and monitor the budgets and actions of your government over the past consecutive years. Their actions are making it more and more difficult for average, working Bahamians to survive while the tax exempt resorts and gated communities continue to silently encompass the country. Bahamians compared to foreigners you own nothing in this country. And the man who control the purse strings controls the power. Anyone with some sense can see that this budget has foreign influence in it. The Bahamians get all the taxes and the rich and non Bahamians get all the benefits. What do you call a government that rather see it’s pe homeless t rather than come up with a long term plan to get them housing? What do you call a government that rather have its people on welfare than have gainful employment? There is no reason why any Bahamian should be enduring the hardships they have been going through since 2008 and losing everything they own. Do you realize that every single government quasi entity is now foreign owned or managed?

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Aegeaon 1 year, 7 months ago

Even with us. Then what?

As long as the drug war continues without interruption, Bahamians will never be free. Our drug war is fueled by our greed, and that curse fuels that war.

Foreigners aren't to blame for our issues. We as black people or just any Bahamian overall following Lynden should had known better from that deal that secured Norman's Cay. We've pushed ourselves to this situation, and we must undo it.

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Alex_Charles 1 year, 7 months ago

Bulldoze them and arrest the landowners and fine them for all the rent they ever collected. Take that fine money and build high density housing for these people and charge them rent for it. Also confiscate the land from these landowners too.

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John 1 year, 7 months ago

Government’s own attempts to provide low cost rental units failed. Simply because the maintenance on these properties are high and above average and the rental income is low and below profitability. While build a duplex in Bain or Grants Town to rent at $500 a month with maintenance cost of $5,000 a year, when you can build similar units in Stapleton or Carmichael and rent at $700 or $800 with a maintenance of $2-3000 a year.

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licks2 1 year, 7 months ago

Well . . .go and sue. . .doing nonsense is why he have Rony Jean in trouble now in the Supreme Court! That lawyer is a big bluff. . .GO AND SUE!!

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 7 months ago

*"Many of them are still investing all they have in getting their legal documents in order."*

Yes, but somehow being illegal while they wait doesn't seem to stop them from having zillions of children to be used simply as "human rights" insurance policies.

*"...with no human rights deserving only of eradication from the face of the earth.”*

No Mr. Smith, only from the face of the Bahamas. They are still welcome to live in Haiti, Canada, or West Palm Beach.

*"There was never talk about working to properly regulate these communities, ..."*

Correct Sir. I'm sure neither was there any talk of "regulating" bank robberies.

*"...and make these people homeless, you are creating the circumstances to breed crime."*

It will be nice to see them "breeding" something else for a change - even if it is crime.

Anyone who thinks Mr. Smith cares about human rights can ask why doesn't he bring lawsuits against the government for the INHUMANE conditions that BAHAMIANS are kept in at Fox Hill.

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geostorm 1 year, 7 months ago

HadHatter, you hit the nail right on Mr. Smith's head. Unbelievable the nonsense he spews from his lips!

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OriginalBey 1 year, 7 months ago

Be consistent with criticism. If we criticize the FNM administration over the controversial OBAN deal in large part due to the environmental impacts it will have, why are we afraid to support it now that it has taken this course of action to clean up the environment, enforce building codes and hold to account land owners who avoid taxes and prey on the poor. A lot of illegal immigrants hide out in these communities as well until they can assimilate into society. This initiative addresses so many issues in one fell swoop. This is the level of thinking I encourage cabinet to employ as it makes strategic decisions in the national interests. One of the tenants confessed that he knew this day would come. What was done to prepare? Little to nothing. #LongRopeHasItsEnd

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PastorTroy 1 year, 7 months ago

REPOST: @TheMadHatter

"There was never talk about working to properly regulate these communities, ..."

Correct Sir. I'm sure neither was there any talk of "regulating" bank robberies.

....Anyone who thinks Mr. Smith cares about human rights can ask why doesn't he bring lawsuits against the government for the INHUMANE conditions that BAHAMIANS are kept in at Fox Hill.

--- HMMMMM!?! No additional comment needed, Mr. Smith has just been baptized by fire from TheMadHatter, I Gone!

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TalRussell 1 year, 7 months ago

Best I take inventory my Brownies Box see if Comrade "King's Counsel," hasn't been helping himself my Homebakeds?

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jackbnimble 1 year, 7 months ago

Smith thrives on controversy and drama. I bigger idiot you cannot find.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 7 months ago

the answer to the problem is to build some shanty towns next door to Mr> Smith . Then he will have a different story. You see a whole mass of black people all packed together

does not matter to him. Out door toilets and bush toilets are all right for them, even if I

bought my property and obeyed the laws it does not matter . the other folks do not

have to obey the law. I say some shanty towns right next to Smith beware of the dogs though.

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John 1 year, 7 months ago

Reminds massa too much of the plantations aye #pigstailand bean soup

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 7 months ago

Creole Fred may have a point if the shanty towns are on private property ....... but cannot tell the Government what not to do with those squatting on Crown Land ...... This sounds ridiculous

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 7 months ago

See the thing is he probably thinks that Bahamians wish to be inhumane to Haitians or that we don't consider them to be humans or some other such nonsense.

This is simply not true. By and large Bahamians have respect for everyone and wish nobody harm. I surely do not. I have no problem with Haitians as a people of Haitian origin or whatever.

The problem is that these Haitians are ATTACKING us and destroying our country. There are over 12 million Haitians in Haiti. We cannot absorb them here, let alone their offspring. We do not have the capacity. It is obvious that they are not helping themselves by coming here and living the same way they do there.

What is the point of that except to send money back, outbreed us, and take over our vacant land? In the end how will that help them? They will just be the majority here, having taken over our land and driving us out (i've already chosen Equador) - and then they will be here living the same nasty poor way they do in Haiti.

Why doesn't Mr. Smith try to fix Haiti. He could Make Haiti Great Again, just like Donald Trump is doing in the USA.

Same foolishness is happening in Europe with zillions of towel-heads coming by boat thru Libya. Many pregnant and with small infants.

Why is it that the poorest most unfortunate people in the world insist on engaging in breeding marathons? Is poverty, hunger, malnutrition, ignorance, and disease that sexy? Is it a turn-on? An aphrodisiac?

People who are well educated and have lots of money and connections ought to try help these people in their own countries to do better and live better.

But we all know who the greatest enemy of that positive enterprise would be right? Who would try to stop the improvement because they benefit the most from widespread poverty? And who you cannot say anything bad about as a Bahamian MP recently found out first hand?

THE CHURCH.

The church is a lover of poverty and the greatest enemy of mankind. John Lennon was shot dead in 1980 for saying just that. The poor and the ignorant continue to donate weekly and to speak against tithes is a sin.

NEWSFLASH...God does not need money.

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Sickened 1 year, 7 months ago

I understand and appreciate your points... but, you lost me at 'towel-heads'.

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DDK 1 year, 6 months ago

Probably the folk from the Middle East and Africa that wear various types of head cloths?!

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The_Oracle 1 year, 7 months ago

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Neimuller.

Governments the world over are no longer properly constrained by the laws they should uphold, often acting above and beyond while imposing extraneous laws on their citizens.

In the end, everyone will suffer as they did nothing, until it was too late.

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licks2 1 year, 7 months ago

It does not means that one can do whatever the hell he/she likes and we "must" not allow our government to take action. . .it means that we know our governments are doing wrong. . .are contrary to our laws and we stand by and do nothing to prevent injustice!! "Justice is giving one what he/she is entitled to by virtue of ownership"-Socrates!

They are not entitled to what does not belong to them. . .or they are entitled to!!

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 7 months ago

Oracle - good story and i undersrand the point. That story has been told many times.

The thing is, though, that in our real life story here on these islands, the story begins...

First they came for the Bahamians...

Sir, WE are the ones being persecuted.

But, if 12% ain't enough to convince you, and if Smith wins his case/s against govt...then stay tuned. Higher VAT rates would then be in our future.

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licks2 1 year, 7 months ago

Smith will never sue. . .he said he was going to in the Oban matter. . .plus he has his hands full with that mess he created with the Rony Juan case!!

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DDK 1 year, 6 months ago

Maybe this man should try a reality t.v. show for a while, or a drama series like Game of Thrones!

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