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See You In Court: Defiant Bethel Vows To Fight Legal Moves On Shanty Towns

Carl Bethel QC, Attorney General. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

Carl Bethel QC, Attorney General. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

By LEANDRA ROLLE

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel yesterday said that the government “will prevail” in the courts against injunctions filed to stop the demolition of shanty towns in the country.

“Iron will meet iron… the struggle to eradicate these unacceptable, unsafe and very dangerous conditions will continue in the courts and we expect that we will prevail because all we are asking is for every single resident in the Bahamas to live their life in healthy and safe and sanitary way,” he told reporters at Government House yesterday.

“No amount of glossy affidavits and words can justify or hide the fact that it is well documented that these shanty towns are unsafe conditions, particularly for the young girls as well and not to mention surrounding communities and not to mention the adults who live in these areas.”

Mr Bethel was responding reports that Rights Bahamas had filed an affidavit to further prevent the evictions and demolitions of shanty towns in Abaco and the wider Bahamian community. 

Rights Bahamas has previously said the organisation would not relent in taking legal action over the demolition of shanty towns, branding the move as “xenophobic and petty.”

“The applicants seek judicial review of the respondents’ proposed plan to demolish homes and other buildings in several specific organic Haitian ethnic communities in New Providence, Abaco and elsewhere in The Bahamas,” Rights Bahamas President Stephanie St Fleur said in an affidavit obtained by the local daily. “The applicants are also seeking and injunction to prevent any further evictions and or demolitions in these communities or indeed anywhere else in the Bahamas. 

“This affidavit does not speak to events which have been occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which hit the Bahamas and in particular the Abacos and Grand Bahama on September 1, 2019.”

But, to this, the attorney responded: “I read portions of the affidavit just a few moments ago and um, I’m sorry she can conjure up and pretty up a shanty town all she wants, but most persons have left the poverty and degradation of shanty towns in Haiti.

“So, why would we want them to create it here? We want people to live in a style of living that all Bahamians live in. We want to glorify the ethnicity and diversity of our country, but in ways that dignify the residents of this country.”

He continued: “It is documented that these shanty towns are unhealthy, unsafe and perilous particularly for children and young girls. This is well documented… and it subjects people to inordinate peril, should a natural disaster occur as occurred in Abaco and Grand Bahama. So, we will fight the good fight with all our might and God willing, we will prevail.”

Shanty towns across Abaco were decimated as a result of Hurricane Dorian, the powerful Category Five storm which pummeled that island and Grand Bahama in early September.

And, following the monster storm’s passage, the Minnis administration issued a six-month prohibition ban for all Abaco shanty towns.

In August 2018, the Supreme Court allowed an injunction barring the Minnis administration from moving ahead with its August 10, 2018 eviction deadline for unregulated New Providence communities.

The court also ordered government and utility providers to halt any planned service disconnections or evictions in shanty towns pending a judicial review of the Minnis administration’s policy to eradicate those communities.

However, in October, Dr Minnis instructed Mr Bethel to compulsorily acquire land where shanty towns in Abaco once stood before Dorian decimated them.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

He's actually 0 - 5. You neglected to count three other very costly cases of great significance to the public that were lost because of his bungling incompetence and the outright stupidity of certain parliamentarians.

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joeblow 1 week, 1 day ago

… you are absolutely correct!

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sucteeth 1 week, 1 day ago

What a jacass this guy is.. thinks he is smarter than everyone else.. youre fired!!!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

The only thing govt can do is change our laws to make building codes be equivalent to shanty towns and make the quiet title law change from 7 years to 7 months. Also repeal laws against illegal utility hookups Allow Bahamians to enjoy the same benefits.

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Naughtydread 1 week, 1 day ago

Well if we are going off of your past performances this should be another easy win for the defendants.

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My2centz 1 week, 1 day ago

This "fight" is all smoke and mirrors. The government has previously asserted there may be payouts for these lands, and now there is a pending crown land giveaway no doubt for the illegal squatters (1st & 2nd Haitian Bahamians) benefit. If land is so readily available to give, why hasn't this been done for multi-generational Bahamians whose ancestors toiled these lands? I just hope the government isn't silly enough to grant free and clear titles to these free lands. I hope they convert them to 5 or 10 year leases instead.

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jamaicaproud 1 week, 1 day ago

Pray tell how will you get people off the land when you legitimize it with leases? Isn't that kicking the can down the road?

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My2centz 1 week, 1 day ago

You kick them off when the lease ends or if they are not in compliance with lease provisions. Illegal immigrants would obviously not qualify. However free and clear land titles to 1st/2nd generation "Haitian-Bahamians" is absurd because crown land remains inaccessible to the masses of multigeneraiton Bahamians.

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jamaicaproud 1 week, 1 day ago

Well whatever,I I feel about the way the immigration laws are applied, it's your country. I will say one thing! I disagree with what we in Jamaica call capturing, or any formalization of land grabbing. Doesn't matter if it is 5 years or 99 years. If you study major crime and criminal mindset in the Caribbean,, there are 2 constant components. Ilegal settlements, and Government allocated lands and housing.

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My2centz 1 week, 1 day ago

I somewhat agree. But leasing unused land to newly minted citizens is better than giving it away to them or Bahamians for that matter. The government should be the last agency strengthen Haiti's foothold in the Bahamas. Or to provide Bahamians with the means for a quick sell to the highest foreign bidder. Leasing vacant lands will generate income while keeping it for future generations.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 1 day ago

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as long term Government leases in The Bahamas, because enforcing the terms of a lease requires organized management skills.

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geostorm 1 week, 1 day ago

He may be 0-5 but I am pulling for him, because he is representing my best interests as a Bahamian! There is no way that we should allow anyone other than Bahamians or legal residents to to live in this country.

You don't just come here and make your rules and disrespect our laws. No, no absolutely not!!! I take our nation's future very seriously. In other few years, if these shanty towns are allowed to continue, there will be no Bahamas for Bahamians!

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 1 day ago

To be honest, I am shocked this is even an issue. The Shanty Towns' very existence breach over a hundred Bahamian laws. How an injunction to keep them in place could even be entertained by the Courts is simply miraculous. Rights Bahamas should play the lottery; their luck is out of this world.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 1 day ago

Can you imagine US courts ruling that Haitian shanty towns cannot be torn down in Washington DC or Florida. Never.

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mandela 1 week, 1 day ago

BAHAMAS, the attorney general had better win because if he loses it would mean that those foreigners who snuck in by boat would be getting what the true blue Bahamian masses were screaming for, for decades and could not get. FREE LAND, and with land papers in hand can then go to any lending Insitute and borrow money.

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