Stop beating us in court, Fred!
That’s the cry from Immigration Minister Brent Symonette to the human rights lawyer.
“Fred Smith and (Rights Bahamas) have the right to obviously in a democracy to make the issues they’re making,” said Mr Symonette.
Quite right, they do. They also have the right to take issues to court when there are legal issues at stake.
The response comes too after retired Justic Rubie Nottage noted that people waiting more than five years for a citizenship application decision have a right to sue the government too – comments Mr Symonette describes as “unfortunate”.
Yes, we think it might be unfortunate too for anyone to be left waiting longer than five years.
Instead, Mr Symonette has pulled the “our money could be better spent” card. “Say you win $200,000 to $300,000 worth of damages, that’s less resources we have for the hospital for dying people, or to improve [Department of] Immigration,” he said.
Of course, minister, the only way anyone wins damages is if the court finds in their favour. Which means that Immigration was found to be acting in the wrong.
Perhaps our money could indeed be better spent if Immigration did things the right way in the first place.
Mr Symonette himself even acknowledges as much when he invites Mr Smith to contact him about the cases in contention.
“You’ve made the point,” he said, “the system is inefficient.”
Not to sound harsh, minister, but if your system is inefficient, fix your system. You can’t fairly complain that people sue – and win – if your system is the problem.
Fred Smith is very open about his views on Immigration – if you want to consult him on his opinion, you need go no further than the many articles he has written over the years, and the many arguments he has laid out in court.
You want his view on the right way to detain a suspect? Look no further than his comments earlier this year after officers bundled someone into the trunk of an SUV when he called the matter “inhumane and degrading”.
Need his feedback on random searches? Pick one of the many occasions he has pointed out the illegality of such, and there being no offence of not being able to provide identification.
Fred Smith isn’t a man to keep his views on such things secret – but we do hope he takes the minister at his word and contacts him with a list of cases to be resolved.
Then it’ll be over to you, Mr Symonette, to deal with the cases. We hope your appeal to Mr Smith is more than just talk.
Anything happen while I was away?
Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson must be the last person to know what went on inside the Blair home where three men were shot dead by officers from his force.
Eleven days ago, police stormed the home at Newgate and Commonwealth Roads while executing a search warrant. Three men – Jamaal Penn, Valentino Pratt and Trevor Cooper – were shot dead. Relatives say the men were unarmed. Police say the suspects opened fire, and officers fired back.
Eleven days is plenty of time for the chief of police to demand answers as to what went on that led to his officers to shoot three men dead – but apparently, he didn’t even know there were children in the house.
Never mind the police on the scene right after the incident claiming the men were using children as human shields. Never mind that among the last words of one of the victims was reportedly the phrase “Don’t shoot, children in here!”
Never mind children being taken from the scene in police vans after the incident.
Never mind the children themselves talking to this newspaper about what went on.
Even the most casual observer might have put together from those that yes, indeed, children were at the scene, but not Mr Ferguson.
“I haven’t heard it, you know,” he said yesterday. “I just came back into the country on the weekend and so I can’t respond to something I haven’t heard. I would really have to research it and see what the comments are.”
Pick up our newspaper, Mr Ferguson, it’ll give you a head start. But what this really shows is how staggeringly little concern is shown by the police hierarchy when there is an officer-involved shooting.
We appreciate you might have just been away, Mr Ferguson, but perhaps like the rest of us you might check your emails, or ask in the office “Anything happen while I’ve been away?”
Three men were shot dead in the early hours of the morning in the house where they slept. If the police chief can’t pick up the phone within 11 days to even check the basic facts, how much faith can we really have that he really cares about whether the shooting was justified or not?