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Bahamas foreign minister called 'a danger to democracy'
Published on February 24, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

cubans_fred_smith.jpg
Human rights activist and attorney Fred Smith, QC (right) walks alongside his clients, Cuban migrants Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara Marin (centre), as they were escorted out of court on Thursday last week

By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell is a “political disgrace” and a “danger to democracy” all Bahamians should fear, attorney Fred Smith QC charged on Monday.

Smith was responding to comments Mitchell made regarding the release of two Cuban men from the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services last week.

“Bahamians should be terrified of Fred Mitchell,” Smith said outside the Supreme Court.

“This man has aspirations to be the prime minister. God forbid.”

Smith then bent down on his knees and said, “Please, God, never let Fred Mitchell become prime minister.

“He is a danger to democracy. Please, God.

“This is a fervent prayer to you, my Lord. Do not let Fred Mitchell ever become prime minister. Please make sure he doesn't win his seat in Fox Hill in the next election.

“Oh, God, thank you.”

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered that Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara Marin be released from prison.

The men, who were originally held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, were transferred to the prison in 2013.

Smith represented the men.

fred_mitchell8.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell
Mitchell ordered an investigation take place into how a court was convinced to free the men. He referred to the men as “a national security risk” and said he alerted border control forces of this position.

But Smith questioned Mitchell’s actions.

“He is being mischievous and it’s political doublespeak... to be making statements about investigating how something happened before the Supreme Court,” Smith said.

“The Office of the Attorney General sent down a lawyer [who] represented the prison authorities and Mr Mitchell should accept the decision of the court.”

Attorney Franklyn Williams, who appeared on behalf of Commissioner of Corrections Patrick Wright in court, did not oppose Smith's application for the men's freedom.

The Guardian learned that, in November, Mitchell asked Cabinet to grant the men asylum and release them into the general population.

Mitchell reportedly advised Cabinet that the men had satisfied security requirements to reside in The Bahamas after the ministry of foreign affairs failed in its efforts to get a third country to accept the men.

Smith said, “From what I see, he recommended the release of these two gentlemen into the general population.

“So how is it now all of a sudden that Fred Mitchell runs around town declaring that these people are a national security risk?

“If these men are suspected of having committed an offense then have the police arrest them or have immigration or have some other national intelligence agency conduct their investigation, arrest them and bring them before a court of law.

“But Mitchell must remember that everybody in The Bahamas, black, white, brown, Cuban, Bahamian, Haitian, everybody, is innocent until proven guilty.”

Pupo and Marin were among a group Cuban migrants who attempted to escape the detention center in 2013.

The group alleged that a group of Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines abused them following the attempt.

During a hearing into the alleged abuse, Pupo testified that he was beaten for hours.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian
 
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