Mitchell Warns Over Supreme Court Rulings On Migrant Detention


PLP chairman Fred Mitchell.


Tribune Chief Reporter


FORMER Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday warned the recent Supreme Court rulings concerning migrant detention will have an adverse impact on the vulnerable group as he called on the government to align themselves with the Opposition in the face of “unpatriotic” legal attacks.

Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton in recent rulings has underscored the need for the Immigration Department to take suspected irregular migrants before the courts for due process before they are subjected to lengthy detention times or deportation.

However, Mr Mitchell, a senator and Progressive Liberal Party Chairman, has insisted this practice would criminalize migrants and subject them to prison sentences when they are unable to pay fines.

He called the recent applications filed by attorney Fred Smith - which Attorney General Carl Bethel said exposed gaps in legislation on the issue - “mischief making”.

“We’re concerned generally about the mischief making that has been connected with this particular attorney and it has been going on for some time, and I hope now that the government is under attack, (Mr Smith) was their supporter but now they themselves are under attack, that they see this is not a partisan issue.

“Both political parties ought to have common face against those people who would undermine the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and its sovereignty and that is what this ventures into. It is being unpatriotic because what you’re doing is you’re trying to sabotage good governance in the Bahamas by overwhelming us with a number of cases which we already have a difficulty dealing with administratively.

Mr Mitchell continued: “There is all this talk all the time about there being a gap in our laws there is no gap in the law. I’m not arguing whether the law is right or wrong at this point, what I know is the framers of the constitution drafted the constitution in the way they did because that is what they intended and the intention is clear and the law is clear.

“If your parents are not Bahamian citizens, and you are born in the Bahamas, you are not Bahamian, you have to apply that’s it. There is no gap, there is no ambiguity, and the framers of the constitution intended that to be so.”

Mr Mitchell acknowledged the need for reforms at a press conference held in the minority room at the House of Assembly.

“The history of how this is done needs to be examined and I guess this will go up to the policy court which is where it has to be sorted out. So if we’re talking about reforms, one of the reforms has to be, and this was on our plate as well, one of the reforms was that the actual registration of Births Act has to be amended to when the child is born to include a footprint at the time the child is born, and that travels with you.

“One of the reasons why we agreed to implement this policy on November 1, 2014 that everybody had to have a status was to deal precisely with this problem. We said that those people coming 18 years from now would not have a problem because they would have an official track from the time they were born to the time they apply.”

The Immigration Department has come under heavy scrutiny following the landmark case of Bahamas-born deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles, which officials note has highlighted the need for widespread reforms.

Mr Jean-Charles’ case was among some 15 separate cases in which the government was asked to prove the lawfulness of the applicants’ arrest and further detention at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

Justice Hilton, in four separate rulings on Tuesday, said the Department of Immigration did not appear to have utilised the procedures specified in the Immigration Act for reasons “best known to themselves” when dealing with these individuals, and that there is “no other basis” upon which they could be held and detained.

In reference to the case of Japanese national Atain Takitota, who was unlawfully imprisoned here for eight years between 1992 and 2000, Justice Hilton stated that former Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer “confirmed the legal position in The Bahamas that detention or arrest with a view to deportation without being taken before a court is not permissible.”


rawbahamian 9 months, 2 weeks ago

If you are born here to illegal immigrants means that you also speak English therefore if you choose TO NOT apply for citizenship as prescribed by BAHAMIAN LAW then you have chosen to be deported when The Immigration Dept proves that you are undocumented so why would a court case be necessary to prove you have to leave? This Haitian lawyer has taken it upon himself to facilitate the complete take over of our country by HIS FELLOW BRETHREN from HIS homeland. If he is so gungho for his people to be treated right and fairly then he simply needs to pack up and carry his practise there and lead the fight pro bono to deal with their issues face to face and stop hiding behind our laws !!!


TalRussell 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, immigration fairness is only as flexible and variable and depends on colour, skin, financial class and political connections of the citizenship applicant.The entire citizenship process is politically bias fucke# - and more so if you're a poor, black and happens have been born here is often not a positive but frowned upon. Money and who you knows does buys lots everything in Bahamaland.Try being poor born Bahamalander black Haitian trying jump through loops citizenship.


Giordano 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Anyone who is illegal immigrant or undocumented should be deported without any other contemplation. Now what The Bahamas should do as a country is: to issue a proposal to the entire world,just to be on the right side of history and RESOLVE THE MOST NOTORIOUS HUMAN CALAMITY and at the same time get FREE GLOBAL PROMOTION ,to open the country 's door or its frontier to ALL HUMAN BEINGS without the need of any visa UNDER THE CONDITION THAT ALL COUNTRIES DO THE SAME SIMULTANEOUSLY. HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD NOT BE ILLEGAL ANYWHERE IN THE PLANET "EXCEPT" : in your private property Without Owner's permission or concent. All Of Us Are Humans!!. Nobady Owns The Public Areas. The World Always Works Better With "More Buyers & More Sellers",Not even the Queen Of England owns UK. The Bahamas or any other country is not a personal belongings of no one,we all have "A place of origin" . It is MISLEADING to say: my country . Actually it makes better sense to say: My place of origin. The things that you work for,are yours',if you want to sell them tomorrow,you can put a sign to sell them BUT the country IS NOT YOUR!!. ACTUALLY THE THINGS THAT YOU LEGALLY OWN LIKE YOUR HOUSE,CARS,LOTS AND ANYTHING THAT YOU WORK HARD FOR,that'S YOUR REAL NATIONALITY. Even your character or the way you think or behave are not your,these last ones,in particular, belong to the characteristics of the society where you grew up or still growing,we are a product of such environment. That's why is so important to keep the surrounding clean,green and preestine as a way to sustain mental health. That's my five cents for today. Thanks.


sealice 9 months, 2 weeks ago

or weally.....foot imprints .... what's next? implanting micro chips at birth?


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