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Jamaican and father arrested for rape in The Bahamas - Human rights lawyer cries victimisation

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Matthew Sewell (centre) and his attorney, Queen's Counsel Fred Smith (left) walk into the Bahamian Supreme Court in Nassau. Sewell is escorted by a Bahamian policeman.

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Jamaican man who spent nine years under inhumane conditions in a Bahamian prison, without a trial, was again incarcerated over the weekend in what human rights lawyer Fred Smith has tagged victimisation by that country's government.

Matthew Sewell, who was freed last October by the Bahamian Supreme Court, is now sharing a jail cell with his father, Clive.

"First, the police tried to pin marijuana charges on them. When that wouldn't stick, they said a report was made by a 15-year-old that both Matthew and his father abused her by having sex with her," Smith told The Gleaner.

The reputable attorney, who is head of the Grand Bahama Human Rights group, says the impending lawsuit is the reason for the arrest. Sewell was accused of rape the last time he was in jail. However, that case was dismissed and his lawyers are about to file a lawsuit valued at millions of dollars.

"It's an act of retribution and vindictiveness, and it is being directed at my clients, while the government operates with illegal abandon," stated the Bahamian attorney, who added that all his clients whose human rights have been stepped on and who dare to fight back against any injustices in the country were being targeted.

"The same happened to Jamaican Alicia Beckles who was raped by a policeman. She was arrested recently because she dared to go out on the town one night."

A number of Haitians Smith is representing have also been subjected to the same treatment.

Smith said that the Bahamian immigration had become blatant and lawless. The Supreme Court had ordered that Sewell be given reasonable permission to work in the country while awaiting the trial of the lawsuit, but this was flatly refused.

The police are also not following protocol, and this was evidenced by the fact that Jamaica's Honorary Consul to The Bahamas only learned of the arrest two days after the fact.

"Protocol dictates that whenever a foreigner is arrested, their country's representative is advised," said Smith.

Matthew Sewell first went to The Bahamas at age 18. Ten days after arriving there, he was arrested. He has spent most of his adult life behind bars, six years in which it is believed he was forgotten. He is now 29 years old.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com