Rights Bahamas issues urgent call for attorneys

Local human rights organisation Rights Bahamas said it is now inundated with dozens of requests for legal assistance on a variety of issues, including the infringement of rights of Haitian, and is now calling for lawyers to offer their assistance.

In a statement Tuesday, the organisation indicated that since the string of high profile cases over the past few months, “scores of Bahamians and [other] residents have contacted the group seeking urgent representation on matters.”

Police brutality; gender based discrimination; child and domestic abuse; citizenship gender-based on status issues; discrimination on the basis of ethnicity; discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and labour rights infringement, are among the many issues faced by persons seeking help from the non-profit organisation.

“This trend is viewed not as a sign that human rights infringements have suddenly spiked in The Bahamas, but rather as evidence of a growth in awareness of what individual rights are, and new confidence in the idea that these can be asserted and defended successfully, even in the face of official power,” the statement read.

The organisation, however, said it does not have sufficient resources to “keep up with the new demand and need help from attorneys.”

Additionally, Rights Bahamas Attorney Fred Smith QC won an injunction against the government to demolish shanty towns days before the government imposed the August 10th deadline.

In a telephone interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, Rights Bahamas Education Chairman Dawrin Thompson said, he is ecstatic about the recent court ruling that will hold off government from destroying shanty towns.

“It’s showing that we’re going to get to the bottom of it the right way,” he said.

“We’re going to go through the right avenues in finding the lawful and more preferred solution.  The more humane solution, one that can give persons an opportunity who can place themselves in different homes as opposed to being ‘kicked out’.”

According to Thompson, many shanty town residents have resided in those communities “longer than some politicians have been in their seats”.

Jermaine Winder, Rights Bahamas chairman for Prison and detention Center Conditions said, “nobody is above the law” and is of the view that the government is just like “us civilians” who have to abide by the law.

“The government thought they could set a date for shanty towns to be destroyed hoping there would not be sufficient time to take the matter to court, and they [the government] have been proven wrong, [as far as] the August 10th date is concerned,” he said.