Nathalie Palacios Morffis and Maikel Rodriguez Jiménez, who are seeking asylum.
THE government has been ordered to prove it acted lawfully when immigration officials detained a Cuban couple who sought to seek political asylum in The Bahamas after fleeing their home country for fear of persecution.
Court documents state that Maikel Rodriguez Jiménez and his girlfriend Nathalie Palacios Morffis escaped from Cuba because of political persecution and victimisation, prompted by their “civic and political activities” which oppose the current Cuban government regime.
In an effort to avoid political persecution and incarceration, the activists fled Cuba in a vessel, with the purpose of reaching Miami, Florida or any other jurisdiction that would grant them political asylum and a “life of democratic freedom’.
Both Mr Jiménez and Ms Morffis have applied to the Bahamas government for refugee and political asylum status. However, after their vessel was apprehended in Bahamian waters, they were arrested and detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre where they have been since September 7.
A Supreme Court judge recently granted the attorneys representing the couple leave to issue a writ of habeas corpus against Attorney General Ryan Pinder, Immigration Minister Keith Bell, Immigration Director Clarence Russell, Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Raymond King and Fausteen Major-Smith, the officer in charge of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
Senior Justice Bernard Turner’s order said the respondents have until December 2 to file a return explaining the reasons Mr Jiménez has been detained for more than two months and proving why he should not be released immediately. He also said none of the respondents, or a person or agency acting on their behalf, would be allowed to deport, expel, remove or repatriate Mr Jiménez from the country until the matter was completed or a further order was issued.
In another court action, Justice Turner also ordered the respondents to allow Mr Jiménez, who is currently suffering with a broken foot, to speak with his attorneys who have had trouble meeting with him at the detention centre.
Callenders & Co contend the government continues to “falsely imprison” the Cuban national in breach of his constitutional rights, since Mr Jiménez has not been taken before any court in the country, has not been served with a deportation order nor charged with an offence.
“Both (Mr Jiménez and Ms Morffis) took part in the widespread and unprecedented protests against the Cuban government in July 2021,” they explained in court documents. “As a result of his involvement in the demonstrations in or around the city of Camaguey, Mr Jiménez was harassed by the Cuban police and forced to go into hiding along with Ms Morffis until August 24, 2021, to avoid being detained and incarcerated for their political opinions and activities. His family was harassed and threatened with imprisonment for not giving up her whereabouts.
“... Both were known to police in Cuba and were convinced that remaining in the country would have resulted in arbitrary incarceration. Both have applied to The Bahamas government for refugee and political asylum status... Both are now asylum seekers requesting refuge and protection in The Bahamas, as they fear for their lives, freedom, well-being and safety if they are removed back to Cuba.”