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New Mass Action Over Rights Abuse

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEYS for 15 former detainees are suing the government for damages that could cost taxpayers millions.

The legal team, led by Fred Smith, QC, filed writs on Friday last week in the first round of legal action that could see claims from as many as 30 former detainees in separate cases.

It follows a string of court-ordered releases in response to habeas corpus applications. The writs detail claims for assault, battery, false imprisonment and breaches of constitutional rights.

Yesterday, Mr Smith said the 15 cases were just the “tip of the iceberg” as he pledged the commitment of his legal team and advocacy group Rights Bahamas to fighting for constitutional and civil rights in the country.

Mr Smith said: “These writs will total in claims and damages in the millions. If you take for example the (cases of) Tynes, or Takitota, who were all given many decades ago $300,000 to $700,000 in damages for illegal arrest and detention. This is not new law that we are creating, this is basic fundamental freedoms that the government of the Bahamas continues to ignore and it is only costing ultimately the taxpayer.”

He added: “It seems (the Department of) Immigration remains above the law and whether it’s PLP or FNM.”

Of the writs filed on Friday, 10 were released by the court, four were released after habeas corpus writs were served, and one woman was deported after her writ was served. Detention periods range from several months to several days.

Their names are: Earl Burton; Anslet Curry; Jean Tinord and child Gemma Joseph; Verante Mocombe and child Norcin; Kediesha Bent-John and Chitara John; Emanuel Simeon; Fanel Gassant; Mirlen Corvile; Michelott Mirilien; William Oneil; Ricardo Johnson; Sonnette Joseph; Reggionel Raymonvil; Marc Henry; and Yvella Joseph.

“Rights Bahamas and our firm have been approached by hundreds of people over the last few years that have fallen prey to government abuse,” Mr Smith.

“Unfortunately we simply don’t have the capacity to issue writs for all who have approached us but Rights Bahamas is commited to continuing the fight for every person’s constitutional and civil rights in the Bahamas.”

On a radio talk show in January, Attorney General Carl Bethel sought to offer a distinction between the Minnis administration and successive governments as it related to immigration matters.

Underscoring a holistic approach, Mr Bethel discouraged ethnic profiling and sweeping apprehensions while a guest on “Z Live” with host Zhivargo Laing.

He remarked on the government’s difficulty in defending its position in court on immigration matters, stating “the government loves to make private sector lawyers rich.”

Mr Bethel went on to suggest it was time to move away from “crack-downs” in lieu of a more sustainable approach.

“You can’t rake and scrape every person who sounds foreign, looks foreign, doesn’t have they’re papers and lock them away,” Mr Bethel said on the show.

“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.”

Mr Bethel’s comments came a day before Justice Gregory Hilton was expected to deliver his ruling on more than a dozen habeas corpus applications - some of whom are among the 15 now suing for damages.

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.

Comments

TheMadHatter 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Luckily no Bahamians have suffered any injustices at Fox Hill Prison - Mr Smith needn't concern himself with them. Haitians and Jamaicans - that's who need help. To Hell with the Bahamas' undeserving citizens.

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Economist 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"If you take for example the (cases of) Tynes, or Takitota, who were all given many decades ago $300,000 to $700,000 in damages for illegal arrest and detention."

That is Harvey Tynes Q.C. He is Bahamian. And, you guessed it, Fred Smith took his case and won.

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licks2 9 months, 1 week ago

Harvey Tynes immigration case? Takitota was not illegally arrested. . .he was paid because they "allowed" him to remain in jail. . .not the detention center for 12 years or more!! He had no ID, spoke Japanese and looked Japanese. . .nobody resisted him being Japanese! He was stateless. . .Japan said that they could not prove he was theirs. . .he was not ours. . .we should have handed him over to the UN. . .not kept him locked up in jail for over a decade!! Do you see him around here? No. . .the UN took him. . .they usually send them to a third country. . .they become an international citizen!!!! Now please explain to us the Harvey Tynes case.

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EasternGate 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I hope that the Government demands costs when some or all of these gimmicks fail

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DEDDIE 9 months, 2 weeks ago

One of the cases is a Bahamian who was held for an additional week after the judge told him he was free to go.

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My2centz 9 months, 1 week ago

Of the thousands of disenfranchised Bahamians, in the Bahamas, he could only find one to represent and one from decades prior? Yet he has a revolving door of Haitian clients. I wouldnt be surprised if this one was a "Haitian-Bahamian". Frederick Smith''s motives are clear, the token Bahamian client doesn't change that.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Someone needs to take a very careful look at the overall amount of court time and resources consumed by QC Smith's shenanigans in recent years at the expense of the average hardworking and intellectually honest Bahamian taxpayer. Why does litigation instigated by QC Smith always seem to leap frog the massive back log of cases thereby denying so many Bahamians equal and timely justice under the law?

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licks2 9 months, 1 week ago

Go find out how ya Supreme Court works. . .he pays his costs. . .gets his scheduled appearance date! If you pay attention to facts and information and stop being petty you would know that QC Smith informed the government of his application to the SC for those cases before the Rony Jean case ever came up!! But as usual, you are lost and ferocious in shooting off ya mouth. . . poor advocate for the the DNA you are making. . .typical politician. . .or cronie!!

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The man did say he gave the FNM party an undisclosed amount . Campaign money. campaign money buys the red shirts. "Its The Peoples Time" The man dominates the news paper two articles yesterday one so far today.

I say thank God for Justice Barnett. he is a wise and capable judge.

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realitycheck242 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr Smith continues to back up many "Trees" . When he backs up the wrong one, his created forest will burn down

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rawbahamian 9 months, 2 weeks ago

They need to take Fred Smith to the vet and have him put to sleep !

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John 9 months, 1 week ago

So if you enter a country illegally or overstay your time, do you extrovert stay in the guest room at government house? So then process them faster and deport them quickly and impose heavy fines and jail time rather than detention. You want compensation for intruding s country’s boarders, violating their laws and being a threat to the sovereignty of the country?

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SP 9 months, 1 week ago

Fred Smith is the ultimate undeniable proof that when you play with dogs, you get fleas!

All 3 former prime ministers are guilty of encouraging Haitians to invade our country for personal gain. The resultant Haitian parasitic infestation now overwhelmingly burdens Bahamian taxpayers, causing the need for more defense force, VAT, schools, hospitals, clinics, police, etc' must be laid squarely on the shoulders of Pindling, Ingraham, and Christie.

If we never had these three stooges "leading us", we probably would never have had a Fred Smith, and almost certainly would not have his fellow Haitian parasite invasion that are quickly dragging the Bahamas down to Haiti standard!

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licks2 9 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Smith een see that the uncle up north just done to his cases. . .they "leaked" the biggest false documentation immigration underground network in the Bahamas that will make even legal citizens wonder if they een a part of that false documents network in the Bahamas!!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. . .either this government sooooooooooooo fortunate or the big uncle "throw rocks in Smith case". . . the investigation show that the Bahamas is awashed in false, Haitian especially, immigration documents!!

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