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Mitchell: Flying Court A Mistake

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PLP CHAIRMAN Fred Mitchell.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration’s decision to facilitate hearings on Inagua for 230 migrants accused of illegally entering the country last week is an unsustainable process, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman and former Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday.

With its actions, the administration has made a concession to attorney Fred Smith and like-minded advocates without having the benefit of a Privy Council ruling on the longstanding practice of deporting people before they have landed in the country without first seeking a court conviction, he said.

The practice of having a magistrate find “illegal migrants guilty and then dispatch them off to their home country” was done before, he said, adding: “The practice was stopped because it is simply not necessary in law and could result in a nightmare for the judiciary and the prison system.

“If you follow the logic of this present practice, by taking bad legal advice from a politically FNM connected lawyer - someone who has no love for this country - a tourist landing here at the airport with no visa will need to be found guilty of illegal landing before he can be put back on a plane and sent back home. This is done every day at LPIA by immigration. Clearly then to have to find migrants guilty is neither correct in law nor sustainable.”

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the government facilitated fair hearings and deportation in Inagua for the 230 illegal migrants who were captured in area.

He said it will become standard practice to send a delegation to islands where migrants are captured where such hearings can take place, rather than bring them to New Providence.

The government’s actions last week come as it has faced intense pressure from immigration advocates over longstanding practices.

Mr Mitchell said: “We continue to say that the government must prosecute the decision on this matter up to the Privy Council level or amend the law forthwith to stop this.”

Mr Mitchell said there was no need for a magistrate to be sent to Inagua last week, saying island administrations have the “full powers of a magistrate and could have easily dealt with the cases there in Matthew Town.”

He said: “The government should be aware that this may seem fine so long as they plead guilty. What if they decide to not plead guilty? Are you going to give them bail? Where are you going to hold them if in their hundreds and thousands they say not guilty? In this case, the magistrate gave them a conditional discharge. What if a mother magistrate gives them a term of imprisonment? Then what?”

The Immigration Act empowers the Director of Immigration to order the deportation of anyone convicted and sentenced to prison for illegally landing in the Bahamas before their sentence experiences. Mr Mitchell, however, said taking this route after a magistrate hands down a prison sentence may raise concerns about judicial interference.

Mr Mitchell also called for an explanation from Dr Minnis on his role in authorising the magistrate to fly to Inagua.

“This is particularly important, not just because of the general questions about interference in the judiciary but given the interruptions in the House of Assembly by the FNM on the false accusations made against a minister of government about interference in the judiciary during the time the PLP was in power, certainly the prime minister as a matter of law has no legal role in directing magistrates,” said Mr Mitchell.

“This is a role for the Chief Justice or for the Chief Magistrate. The Attorney General as the minister for the administration of justice would normally bet eh one who negotiates to talks to the head of the judiciary about administrative matters dealing with the court.”

Comments

DDK 2 years, 11 months ago

These criticisms and statements are about as clear as mud.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 11 months ago

I was of the view that it would cost the Bahamas less to send persons back from Inagua. but they still have to use the planes to take the judge to the Island and the illegals back to their home land. I should have known if the "Drama King" was happy it had to be something wrong. I suppose he is telling roc wit doc what to do.

I love Mr; Mitchell and so does Jesus. so it is all right.

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sealice 2 years, 11 months ago

The racist bastagge wants the white privy council to tell his people what to do??? What political foolishness is this.... why would you think a statement like this keeps you relevant?

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Cas0072 2 years, 11 months ago

Clearly some here are guided by their dislike of Fred Mitchell, but how is he wrong? What happens when full boats of people decide to plead not guilty? The outspoken QC is already talking about the need to provide legal aid. At least for illegal landings where they are caught red handed, court proceedings should not be required.

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licks2 2 years, 11 months ago

If they plead not guilty they go to jail. . .but it is like the chicken tief saying I did not tief his chicken. . .but the chicken is in his hand. . .with the identifications of the owner!! The judge will not allow you to waste court's time. . .you have the chicken in your hand and it is not yours and the owner sore under oat that he gave you no permission to take it!! Then if you have an alibi. . .present it!! The not guilty plea is to allow the prosecution to present its case against you. . .not like he is accusing you before the judge. . . you are standing before the judge with the evidence in your hand!!

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sealice 2 years, 11 months ago

Legal Aid?? WTF when he was minister he wanted to do what our brothers in Turks and Caicos do - run them straight out of the country before they land which honestly is what we should be doing - they are committing a crime and we got it bad enough here without adding more masses to the messes.

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realfreethinker 2 years, 11 months ago

If they plead not guilty. Then a trial will be held and the magistrate can convict them

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Cas0072 2 years, 11 months ago

Obviously a trial will be held days, months, or years later and adding to the backlog in cases and they will need to be held somewhere. God forbid some of these cases takes years to come up (including delays by the QC), they will be out on bail with the right to work just like Haitian citizen Jean Rooney.

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SP 2 years, 11 months ago

Benjamen Franklin- Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.

STFU Fred! You did nothing when you had the opportunity and have no right to criticize anyone now trying to do something.

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MonkeeDoo 2 years, 11 months ago

The electorate rejected him. He has NO relevance ! Why is he constantly being qouted ?

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stillwaters 2 years, 11 months ago

Because this newspaper can't find better news, they go for drama.

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 11 months ago

This is the first time that I know of where Fred is actually making sense.... wow. Must be cold in hell today...

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licks2 2 years, 11 months ago

Come on there dude. . .you know Fred een talking nothing with sense. . .why did his government not go to the PC? Because of the same reason Judge Hilton kicked this government with the stay of just what Fred is saying they can do!! so stop playing ya damn politics and just say that you don't like ya "red" party government leaders. . .so stop ya dumbness. . .

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My2centz 2 years, 11 months ago

Fred Mitchell has a valid point.

However, if they insist on holding trials for persons caught in the act, then the trial date needs to be set within hours of the plea. And Fred Smith and others can fly in on that day and defend whomever they want at their expense. Those who plead not guilty should also be fined. If they have a $3k fine or prison hanging over their heads if they return, I'm sure many won't.

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