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Human Rights abuse in the Bahamas

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM


A Supreme Court order for Jamaican Matthew Sewell to be given immigration status has been flatly refused, after the 28-year-old won a false imprisonment case against Bahamian police last October.

Sewell, who instructed his lawyers to file a lawsuit after spending nine years in jail without a trial, and has been in that country awaiting the start of that case, was accused of rape and arrested again last Sunday by Bahamian police who seem bent on either deporting or imprisoning him.

He is currently sharing a cell with his father Clive, who was also arrested.

"It has been five days since they have both been held in jail without any charges," human-rights activist and lawyer, Fred Smith, told The Gleaner.

Sewell is among a host of foreign nationals persecuted without any redress in The Bahamas, placing that Caribbean country under the microscope of human-rights groups, said Smith.

In fact, the Jamaican joins a long list of victims, including Canadian Bruno Rufa, who was illegally deported after winning a case against the Bahamian government; Haitian Jean Marie Justilian, who was shot in the back of the head by the police, charged, acquitted, unlawfully detained and illegally deported while a new case was in court.


Among those subjected to this "illegal abandon" was Claudia Bethel, a Jamaican arrested and raped by an immigration officer. Bethel also sued the government and was recently raided, arrested, abused and finally released because of public outcry, said Smith.

"In all these cases immigration vilifies human-rights activists, denies any wrongdoing, and demonises the victim, and government continues to abuse," he stated, adding that even those born in the country are subject to abuse, particularly, if they are black and poor.

"Dahene Nonord, Bahamian of Haitian parents was beaten. After we sued, he was arrested beaten again and his brother was also charged."

Smith has tagged the cases as acts of retribution and vindictiveness, being directed at his clients.