By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Supreme Court has awarded $751,900 to a Ghanaian man who was unlawfully detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for nearly seven years after he travelled to The Bahamas from Jamaica for a three-week vacation.
The sum was awarded to Joseph Amihere for the physical, emotional and psychological abuse he endured while in custody. Of that figure, Registrar Camille Darville Gomez awarded Mr Amihere $551,200 for general damages; $100,000 for exemplary damages; $50,000 for assault and battery; another $50,000 for aggravated damages and $700 for special damages. No money was awarded for constitutional damage by way of compensation and vindication.
While the award is a notable size, it is still less than 10 percent of the $10.6 million Mr Amihere requested when he initially launched legal action against the Attorney General, Minister of Immigration, Commissioner of Police, Director of Immigration and the officer-in-charge of the detention centre. Still, in her ruling, Registrar Darville Gomez said the award will be accompanied with “interest to accrue from the date of the issue of the writ at the rate of 6.25 percent”.
Mr Amihere travelled to The Bahamas from Kingston, Jamaica as a “lawful visitor” on September 25, 2010.
A week later he was unlawfully held and taken to the detention centre by police officers. He remained there until May 2017, when he was released on a successful habeas corpus application heard by Supreme Court Justice Bernard Turner.
His attorneys said Mr Amihere was never taken before a court of law for breaching any immigration laws nor was he the subject of a deportation order under the Immigration Act. While he was in custody, he said he was beaten several times by Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers and Department of Immigration officers during routine searches of CRDC dorms.
“On several occasions when the defendants conducted searches in the dorms, they threw Joseph Amihere’s clothing outside and if he objected, they would use their hands and punch him repeatedly,” court documents recorded.
Mr Amihere’s attorneys said he “was forced to sleep on the hard and dirty floor” of Central Police Station and subsequently on box springs or the floor of the crowded Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
“The toilets were always clogged and there were no cleaning products provided to properly clean the bathrooms so they could use them with dignity,” the court documents filed in support of his lawsuit state. “Mr Amihere had to bathe in dirty water that rose nearly a foot off the floor in the clogged open showers. The floors were extremely dirty and stunk all the time.
“As a result of the matters aforesaid, Joseph Amihere was deprived of his personal liberty for almost seven years and has suffered injuries, sustained loss and damage.”