Smith: Abaco eviction process “ill-conceived”

Smith: Abaco eviction process “ill-conceived”
Attorney Fred Smith, Q.C (file photo)

Attorney condemns govt. for “picking on” shantytown residents, and alienating the Haitian Bahamian electorate

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prominent human rights attorney Fred Smith, QC, yesterday castigated the government’s ongoing eviction process of shantytown residents from structures rebuilt in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

He urged the government to stop picking on, victimizing and discriminating against people of Haitian origin living in The Bahamas.

The government has issued more than 50 eviction notices on structures in Abaco and Elbow Cay since late June.

“I’m a little surprised that in the midst of this pandemic and in the aftermath of the Dorian catastrophe in Abaco, the government is still trying to make people homeless,” Smith told Eyewitness News.

“Where in the world are people who are evicted going to go?”

Dorian pounded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama last September, displacing thousands, many of whom resided in the shantytown communities in Abaco.

In the aftermath of the storm, the government engaged several local contractors to assist in the clean-up of those areas.

It also issued a no-build order for the areas.

Smith said the government has already demolished the remains of “perfectly good” buildings in The Mudd, Pigeon Peas, and the Farm Road communities.

“The threat to now evict people to make them homeless seems ill-conceived,” he continued.

“I would hope the Cabinet would have better things to do in this pandemic than to decide where a person should or shouldn’t live in Abaco right now.”

Smith said he was not promoting or encouraging anybody to build without permits.

“The reality is in the Family Islands and in Nassau, you have people building and repairing and constructing all over the place,” Smith said.

“What is the obsession with the people with Haitian ethnic origin?

“…But the fact that they obsess about people of Haitian ethnic origin, makes it unconstitutional.

“You can’t keep picking on people just because they are of Haitian ethnic origin…We have to stop making the Haitian people the scapegoat for every social economic and cultural ill that is perceived in this country.”

Smith continued: “It just is unacceptable as a nation. I urge the government to stop doing it.

“Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield is spinning in his grave to watch this FNM government persecute, victimize and discriminate against people because of their ethnic, racial, and birthplace origins.

“It’s unacceptable for the FNM to do it, just as it was unacceptable for the PLP to have done it.”

He insisted that if the law was being applied equally and in a non-discriminatory manner, he would have “no complaint”.

The preliminary Abaco Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, estimated the total population for the six communities at 3,581.

Of those residents, the report noted that 20 percent were undocumented at the time.

Smith said the government has done a disservice to the 80 percent of people in that community who are either Bahamian citizens, permanent residents, legal work permit holders, or citizens in waiting.

He also cried shame on the length of time it takes for people to receive citizenship.

“There are thousands of young Bahamians, born in The Bahamas, just of Haitian heritage and parentage, who are entitled to be registered as Bahamian citizens,” he said.

“Why should it take years, sometimes decades to register people is an actual travesty of justice in The Bahamas.”

The veteran attorney further cautioned the government against alienating possible future votes.

“I remind the government that they are coming to an election shortly and it would behoove them not to alienate the Haitian Bahamian electorate,” Smith said.

“Putting people out of the streets is inhumane, it’s degrading, and it is political suicide in some [of] these constituencies.”

9 comments

For an educated human rights activist/lawyer the government allows one set of people to build without building codes, permits, proper wiring for lighting and they are mostly illegals while the natives have to struggle to do all of those things buy property sometimes that have couple owners etc! Now if they are permitted to squat anywhere I do believe in a pandemic ALL Bahamians ought to follow suite what’s good for one is good for ALL!

I agree with you, Fred Smith need to sit small. These people have all the jobs, they are allowed to do whatever they want to do in the Bahamas. Building on land that don’t belong to them. Ellsworth Johnson giving away our citizenship, Franky Campbell is catering mostly to Haitians. Smt, this government just selling our country to the highest bidder.

To fred smith i would like to know why all of your concerns are about what happened to the Haitian community every time you open your your mouth it’s about the Haitians being mistreated or discriminated against or giving them something just because they are here don’t get me wrong I believe in being my brother’s keeper i believe in helping people and i also believe in the law i do what the laws of the land requires me to do i brought a home i had to pay for the land to for the house i paid fees and taxes government and financial i pay light and water BILLS i struggled to make my payment for 30 years while taking care of 3 children with or without jobs i had to find a way to make it and it was only by the mercies of God that I was able.i have needed a lawyer but had no money and their are many legal bahamain need a lawyer to help them with financial situations my point is no one help bahamain to save their homes from these banks no one helps people when insurance companies don’t pay but takes your money .when the banks are taking your money and something happens to your home they say you have no insurance and there not one thing you can do. you never speak out or offer help or even suggest any thing for the legal bahamain you are not concerned about what the government do or don’t for us it appears that you’re only concerns is what the government is not doing for the Haitians when i wanted to travel i do things the right way i buy a ticket i paid for my Visa and my Visa was out i go a police record and use that i followed the laws of the land the ones that came in the country the right way legal are subject to the same laws and rules that we are subject to and for the illegal one they are subject to deportation just like the bahamain that go to other country’s and over say get deported they do not get the government to build houses or give them land because they are illegal .the law is to protect bahamain people. the law that qualifies you to be counted as a bahamain your father has to be born bahamain or a citizen of the Bahamas and marry to your foriegn mother at the time of your birth for you to be counted as bahamain you don’t have to like the law but that is the LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY SO IF BAHAMAIN HAS TO FOLLOW IT WHY NOT THE HAITIAN PEOPLE THERE IS NO PLACE I MEAN NO PLACE IN THE WORLD BAHAMAIN PEOPLE CAN GO AND DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT TO DO SOMETHING FOR THEM I IS SAID WITH NO HATRED OR PREJUDICE OR ANGER THIS SAID WITH LOVE JUST BEING HONEST AND THE HAITIAN PEOPLE IF THEY ARE HONEST WILL TELL YOU BAHAMAIN CAN NEVER DO IN HAITI WHAT THE HAITIAN PEOPLE DO IN THE BAHAMAS THEY WILL NEVER ACCEPT OR ALLOW IT

Fred smith if haitians can build then by all means all bahamians shud be able to build here too. I am a Bahamian and I live abaco and struggling to pay my rent I lost everything during the storm so i can build for free too. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

Is it just me or does that not look like the old shanty shacks have turned into real big homes now after Dorian….laundry room / generator house, hurricane proof glass front door and windows, patio and guest bedroom….. This time Bahamians still dont even have a front wall or roof left on their homes after a year. You want to see where the materials to rebuild and generators every tourist home and bahamian house that had been robbed numerous times each have gone….compare the bahamian homes after Dorian to the shanty town mansions being built now thought that was Papa Ingram island…now i think the rumors of him being half haitian is true!
Also investigate these people who in our government who families and police selling drugs and guns…people in power destroying out own country for greed and more power.
And Fred Smith we all know you get free tings from Haitian woman so stay out the way you aint Bahamian.

We as Bahamians find it hard during covid 19 the 30 days was running around the clock how many of the are owned by Bahamians this money is sent out the country and its illegal .We as Bahamians have a hard time to aquire crown land ‘ red tape’ and we are or should be entitled to have an opportunity to have our portion but we still have to file paper work and wait for the Prime Minister to sign and grant it I’ve been waiting for over 10 yrs and counting I can’t go build nothing on no land I don’t have papers for Haitians colonize here you try what they try here in Haiti they will chop you up I’ve seen it numerous time in videos over land disputes. You give them a chance they think they are better than Bahamians .Well Mr Fred Smith why you don’t buy them a cay around Haiti and let them colonize and you be their leader problem solve .

And take property that’s belongs to someone else and build on it without it being ours, we cnt go to Haiti Mr. Smith and do what they doing in their country, heck they cnt build on any property that’s not there’s in Haiti so why allow it here. I love everyone but when you wrong am going to speak,so Smith ya wrong.

You need to come Abaco and see they ready to kill Bahamians now Abaco is Haitian land we lost who ene Haitian is Haitian decent they use u til they don’t need you I angry because he saying these things out of ignorance government ene evicted no one yet more Haitian here than before the storm cone see

Mr. Fred Smith why don’t you go to Haiti and help the Haitians build their country so they would stop migrating illegaly and stay home…They have to obey the laws that are implemented for ALL to adhere to…They are not priviledge in OUR country…They should help their people stay HOME in their OWN country and stop MIGRATING…That”s my ten cents

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