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Govt May Pay Squatters For Land Acquisition

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ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel says squatters may be entitled to compensation when the government compulsorily acquires land that once housed Abaco’s shanty towns if they satisfy the law’s stringent requirements. 

He spoke to The Tribune yesterday after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Wednesday that he has instructed him to acquire The Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sand Banks and other areas as part of a move to prevent rebuilding in the low-lying areas.

Meanwhile, Dr Minnis continued his tough talk on immigration yesterday, telling The Tribune his government will come after companies and private citizens who hire undocumented migrants. He said they will feel the full brunt of the law if discovered. 

“Under the law, all legal owners and by implication any squatter who has lived continuously in undisturbed possession for the required periods of time will have to be paid, once they can prove their form of title, whether by documentary title or by operation of the Limitation of Actions periods,” Mr Bethel said.

“They must prove exclusive occupation for the limitation period. Now the legal issue is this: a right not to be evicted from a piece of land by legal action by the ‘true owner’ does not amount to a legal title to that land. It is merely a right not to be evicted by the true owner. The legal question the groups like Respect Our Homes may have to take to court is this precise question. If a squatter is no longer in physical occupation of the land, he has no right per se to retain it. Another squatter can enter and continue the occupation. The owner could enter. The question for a court of equity and justice would be whether the ‘possession’ could be deemed to continue in actual possession in law, because the squatter (who had gained the right not to be evicted under the Limitation Act) was evicted by a storm surge, and did not abandon the land of his own volition. These are complex issues.”

A Rights Bahamas official said yesterday thousands of people could qualify for compensation because of their squatter’s rights. A formal statement from the group is expected today. 

After the government gazettes its intention to acquire the land, an assessor will be appointed to appraise them, their valuation dictating compensation. 

“This is undivided land so it may be necessary to divide a large sum amongst multiple persons who can prove title to parts,” Mr Bethel said, noting that acquisition can take a long time. “It depends on how quickly people can prove title and in some acquisitions there have been legal actions challenging the acquisition, which can lead to great deals sometimes,” he said.

Mr Bethel noted the law on compulsory acquisition makes no references to nationality in its application, saying: “All persons in The Bahamas enjoy the benefits accorded by the constitution.”

Establishing title to the lands could prove complicated. The Mudd, according to many, was built on Crown Land, but ownership of the Pigeon Peas is a more contentious matter.

Marsh Harbour resident Ricky Albury has said he owns the land but former Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key said yesterday that this is not the case. The land, Mr Key said, was granted to an  ancestor many years ago. 

“He was awarded 220 acres for his heroism during a war and the Crown gave him title to that,” Mr Key said. “He died without a will, leaving quite a few sons and nobody ever could figure out who was the eldest son so people just squatted on the land.”

For his part, Mr Bethel said: “In a similar case, where land was needed for the Black Point Exuma airport, former Prime Minister Lynden Pindling took the land and put the money in the bank, telling them that once the question was resolved, the owner would collect.”

On Wednesday, Dr Minnis told undocumented migrants to leave the country or be forced out.

Yesterday he reminded businesses and residents not to hire undocumented workers or face prosecution.

“I am sending a warning to all companies and citizen who are hiring - if you hire any illegal (worker) we will come after you and there are severe consequences - we will not tolerate any hiring of any illegal (worker),” Dr Minnis said. 

Asked what penalties such companies will face, the nation’s leader said: “That company will be severely dealt with, the law spells it out, we will not bend with the law.”

He reiterated an advisory from the Department of Immigration, saying under the law applications for new work permits must be made from the applicants home country – not The Bahamas.

Comments

My2centz 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Carl Bethel is in over head in this position as AG. He is once again proving how inept he is: **Mr Bethel noted the law on compulsory acquisition makes no references to nationality in its application, saying: “All persons in The Bahamas enjoy the benefits accorded by the constitution.”

It's the Bahamian constitution Mr. Bethel. It does not have to continously reference Bahamian citizen, it's implied. Does the constution explicitly say, "of any nationality?". Because if the Bahamian constitution doesn't imply Bahamian, how can he take it to imply " of any nationality"? Even when they talk tough, they try to appease Fred Smith, and the Haitian community.

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Yep. He's already backing down. This is a retreat and codeword for we actually aren't going to compulsory acquire or do anything. The Minnis administration is becoming very predictable: talk big and then slowly retreat from the position and ultimately do nothing.

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My2centz 1 month, 1 week ago

Country of laws, huh? That's not possible if the AG cant interpret the constitution. Apparently the Bahamian constution was drafted on behalf of the world community, not Bahamians. His fear, or admiration, of Fred Smith is so obvious and embarrassing. He's supposed to be the top lawyer in the country, but he moves to the beat of Fred Smiths misguided and self serving interpretation of the law.

What they need to do is acquire the land, repatriate all illegals. And provide low cost housing for all Bahamians impacted by Dorian and Joaquin.

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joeblow 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Our country is run by idiots!!

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Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It was confirmed to me that some white guy owns this property and was renting land to these people. So these squatters don't own squat... they were paying rent!

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joeblow 1 month, 1 week ago

... BUT, JUST FOR ARGUMENTS SAKE, LET'S SAY THEY DID OWN THE LAND (WHICH THEY DON'T), WHY AREN'T THEY BEING PENALIZED FOR BUILDING WITHOUT PERMITS, INSTALLING GENERATORS TO SUPPLY ELECTRICITY AND ILLEGAL POWER HOOKUPS, WITH INTEREST?

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Watch your backs, Abacoians!
The no longer can be kept secret behind cabinet walls, agenda for the Abaco's that your loyal comrade has been blogging relentlessly of - is now being revealed by the three leading Imperialists red shirts comrades Minnis, Carl Wilshire and KP, yes, no .... of which one has proven he self have become not a favourite to squat among constituent voters, and over number general elections. ...... Your imaginative self, just wouldn't even want make these three comrades, up....

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Cas0072 1 month, 1 week ago

What??? The government of The Bahamas is going to pay Haitians (possibly illegal immigrants) for land that they do not own? The Peas is private property and the then FNM government shut the man down when he attempted to evict them in 2010. The Mud is crown land, meaning it already belongs to the government.

Bahamians need to stop joking about it and just go ahead and build anywhere they please. One day the government will pay you for having the audacity to do so.

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Sickened 1 month, 1 week ago

I ga put a tent up in the old post office this weekend and then wait for gubment to buy it from me. Then I'm moving into the Rodney E Bain building (Shirley and Charlotte) and wait for them to buy that too. I GA BE RICH!!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

Illegal Haitian aliens who entered The Bahamas illegally have no legal standing or means whatsoever to acquire land ownership or land occupation rights of any kind in our country, period.

And the same applies to illegal Haitian aliens who entered The Bahamas illegally and then proceeded to fraudulently obtain, with the assistance of one or more corrupt (bribed) Bahamian government officials, any type of document that the holder wrongfully (illegally) purports to be an official document giving them the right to reside in The Bahamas.

Children of illegal Haitian aliens, born in The Bahamas, are themselves illegal Haitian aliens if they failed to apply for belonger status within one year of becoming 18 years of age. Accordingly they too have no legal standing or means whatsoever to acquire land ownership or land occupation rights of any kind in our country.

Carl Bethel, in addition to being an incompetent AG, is as deceitful and dishonest as they come. The same level of deceit and dishonesty applies to Minnis because Carl Bethel would not have uttered the hogwash mentioned in the above article without first obtaining Minnis's blessing to do so.

Minnis wants 'true' Bahamians to believe he is finally taking a no-nonsense aggressive and vigorous attitude towards the enforcement of our immigration laws when in fact he's employing any means possible to buy time, including the use of his very dishonest AG.

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joeblow 1 month, 1 week ago

"Children of illegal Haitian aliens, born in The Bahamas, are themselves illegal Haitian aliens if they failed to apply for belonger status within one year of becoming 18 years of age."

In truth the right to apply for belonger status only applies to children born to LEGAL residents NOT illegal, but that did not stop the government from allowing the children of illegals to unconstitutionally apply at 18 even though it violates the rule of law (Article 7 sect 7 , Bahamas Constitution).

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

Thanks for the correction. Must both parents be legal residents in order for their child to be eligible to apply for belonger status at age 18 ?

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joeblow 1 month, 1 week ago

Yes, or one must be a Bahamian citizen. The rule of law underpins the constitution. Anything outside of the law cannot be recognized by the law!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

Minnis and Bethel would have us believe that it is easier for illegal Haitian aliens to acquire land ownership and/or land occupation rights in The Bahamas than it is for 'true' Bahamians and properly authorised foreigners to do so. What foolishness will they come up with next for obfuscating and obstructing the rigorous enforcement of our immigration laws?!

The entire slate of elected FNM officials is headed towards 'one-and-done' faster than Minnis is able to appreciate if a sustained process/program of expeditiously rounding up, temporarily detaining and then quickly deporting the many thousands of illegal Haitian aliens is not soon commenced. And let's not forget the need for sustained robust border protection!

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sealice 1 month, 1 week ago

this fool musse the dumbest a dem all.....if you so smart WTF would you say something like this?? only going to cost da gubmint dem and the Bahamian people more time and money while we wait on our rights to push dese heyshuns back to haiti.....

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Ton_Heijnmans 1 month, 1 week ago

BOYCOTT THESE SAVAGES ...

The Ba-Ba hamheaded i-Land xenophobia loving racists are choking humanity to the death. ...

STOP THE NEEDLESS POLLUTION OF OUR SKIES ...

YES: it's true that toxic pollution is difficult to track. Commerce of any kind is slippery like an oil slick, as shadowy as the Carrib Drug Cartels which grow fat and rich while they are murdering our children all over the world. ... ALL BECAUSE OF THEM DIRTY CARRIBS ...

Take the tourism industry. The world must pull together to totally and completely exterminate these dirty volks' dirty and filthy tourism trickery. ... A better word for these dirty b'sards is Tourerism. They are only a few steps up from the common Terrorist ... These dirty b'sards are flying MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of foreigners from ALL OVER THE GLOBE down to their dirty rotten i-Lands. ...

The WORLD must UNITE and fight these Baham iainni Tribalist TOURERISTS.

... Tonnes and TONNES of pollution is being pumped into the AIR WE BREATH by these dirty, filthy highwaymen thieves. ..

THE BA HAM HEAD-inninny THIEVES MUST BE UTTERLY CRUSHED AND ERADICATED FOREVER from continued, needless and greedy-guts cashing in while ALL THE REST OF US pay with our lives. ... ... ... WE ALL ... 7 BILLION OF US ... MUST COME TOGETHER AND END THIS DIRTY CARRIB BLACKMARKET TOURerISTs.... AND WE MUST COME DOWN UPON THEM ALL WITH AN IRON FIST. ...

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TheMadHatter 1 month, 1 week ago

In other words, Haitians will rebuild and live in the shanty town while this matter plays out in the courts for the next 46 years. Amazing.

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

So what was really behind the oil spill on Grand Bahama and why the freelance effort to clean it up and stop the oil from penetrating deeper into the water table. It will then travel miles underground from the original spill.

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

So basically the government is buying its land back from squatters, some of whom may be illegal? And it is also paying double for private land, first to the rightful owner and then to the squatters? Of course, the law says 12 years of squatting gives rights to those in possession. This law doesn't address nationality or legal status, so now a whole new can of sardines being ripped open. and, regardless of the smell, the burden will fall on the taxpayers.

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mandela 1 month, 1 week ago

FNM if you do this foolishness you all can kiss 2022 goodbye for sure, cause right now you all are walking on a tight thread, not rope. #$$$%%%^

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Cas0072 1 month, 1 week ago

This blog entry is almost 10 years old and it goes to show that the idea of just claiming land in The Bahamas is well established in the minds of Haitians. Now the government is attempting to change the law, once again, to accommodate the wants of the Haitian community.

“It became immediately apparent from the accent this gentleman was from Haiti . . .” “I can’t resist and I ask him what he's doing. Turns out he's trying to clear the area so he can claim the property; something the Bahamian government provides for its people. You clear the land in certain areas and you can apply for ownership -- just like homesteading in the Wild West. You gotta love it. We use Caterpillars back home and Henry uses a good ole Machete. This guy has heart.”

https://eleuthera-bahamas.blogspot.co...">https://eleuthera-bahamas.blogspot.co...

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 1 week ago

Now the peoples time voters will surely know where the VAT money gone. very good for them all.

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