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Editorial: Let The Court Decide On Shanty Towns

THE plans for free COVID tests are coming soon. The solution to the Cabbage Beach access row is coming soon. Plans for a “workable” wage are coming soon. The Grand Lucayan conclusion is coming soon.

All these promises of things that haven’t quite happened yet, so what’s a government to do? Rattle the sabre on shanty towns again!

It won’t be the first government to resort to such measures – after all, back in 2017, then Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told illegal migrants to leave the country by the end of the year or they would be “aggressively pursued and deported”.

Here we are, four years later, and the government is once again turning back to the same old topic, this time taking on shanty towns again.

But why? After all, the court is already deciding on the matter.

The government is appealing an interim injunction that barred it from demolishing shanty towns across Abaco until a Supreme Court judge delivers her decision on a judicial review on the demolition of the unregulated communities.

The government position is that the judge was wrong and there were “several errors” in the court’s decision.

Fred Smith, QC, doesn’t hold back in his thoughts on the move, saying it is “nothing more than an abuse of the process of the court” – and that the actual written judgement might even arrive before the hearing of the appeal, as it is currently being written.

He said: “This appeal may therefore be academic and it is going to be an extremely costly appeal for the government itself, for the appellant and for the time of the judge and the Court of Appeal… What more abusive use of the court’s precious judicial resources than to persist (and) for what?”

He’s right. Let the court get on with making its decision rather than wasting time on an appeal that might not be relevant by the time it’s heard.

The government may win its case entirely, so let the judge decide.

Of course, governments seldom lose favour by looking tough on migration, so even if it throws another bucket load of money at this case, there will be few who criticise them for doing so.

What we would say however is that this is a case that does need a resolution. Arguing over the interim injunction is neither here nor there in the bigger picture – although it does affect those caught in the middle. What we need is a decision on the larger case.

There are issues of dealing with migration that need a substantial overhaul, and ensuring the law is clear so that it can be followed both by migrants and officials is a big step along the way.

There is far more that still needs addressed – including the catalogue of concerns over the years about alleged abuses at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, about detainees who have been beaten, held illegally or who have gone missing.

This court case is just one part in that larger picture – but for goodness sake, just let the court get on with its decision. The difference in time might be no more than a few weeks, so let us have a considered verdict, not a short-term challenge.

Grand Lucayan

Another saga that has been long rumbling is the Grand Lucayan deal.

Officials are apparently hoping to soon bring that to a conclusion, with Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper saying that the government is in the final phase of discussions.

These discussions are of course a year and a half after a deal was signed by the Minnis administration for a $300m investment. The pandemic has been cited as a reason for the delay – but that same deal sits there still signed.

We all hope that a future for the Grand Lucayan can be secured. It can be a significant cornerstone in the Grand Bahama tourism market. But the delays and uncertainty have dragged on for a long time now. We see other hotels boasting of 90 percent occupancy this Thanksgiving weekend, and the Grand Lucayan still sits there with its future uncertain.

We wish Mr Cooper well in these latest discussions – even though he calls the previous agreement “egregiously bad”. It will be interesting indeed to compare any deal he negotiates with the one he found so terrible.

That said, those who will feel the difference most will be the workers of Grand Bahama if the hotel succeeds, not just the hotel staff but those in the surrounding economy.

It will be a major boost for the area indeed if it can be a success, and we should all wish for nothing less.

Comments

birdiestrachan 6 days, 4 hours ago

Why does the court take so long to make a decision on Shanty Towns?

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mandela 5 days, 12 hours ago

Let the Bahamian people decide, after all the land that the squatters will be squatting on belongs to the Bahamian people and not the courts.

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Sickened 5 days, 12 hours ago

Immigration is a hot topic around the world at the moment. The poor and downtrodden are all looking for a better life elsewhere. But how are first world countries supposed to manage this? Even if a country determines how many immigrants they can comfortable take in each year there we always be more people at the gates. Countries, like ours, only have limited capacity. If we allow 100k immigrants in each year (way too much in my opinion) what do we do when the next 100 come pleading (or sneaking). Will the world and civil rights activists then come to our side and say we've done our part, you 100 have to go home? I really doubt that will ever happen. What if we accept 200k? The activists and humanitarians will still not be content and will say... you can surely fit a few hundred more. The more I think about it the more I think a country has to be "all or none". One thing is for sure though, our little country will be overwhelmed with the cost of immigration a lot sooner than the US or Europe. For us, a slack immigration policy simply means the sooner we ourselves will be sneaking into the US for a better life. We can't even house or take care of the people residing in The Bahamas now.

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FrustratedBusinessman 5 days, 9 hours ago

I won't be buying anymore land if the courts allow this crap to continue. If the Haitians can just clear down property that they don't own, start building without permits, and then claim ownership of the land, you better believe that I, a Bahamian from birth, will be doing it as well.

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