Stateless man sues over long term detention

Stateless man sues over long term detention
Ramon Lop

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A stateless man is suing the government for alleged unlawful detention and false imprisonment at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The court action for the matter started yesterday.

According to the writ of summons, Lop was born in Cuba in July 1962 and was a holder of a US residence card. He is currently stateless.

The Attorney General of The Bahamas, Minister of Immigration, Director of Immigration and officer in charge of the Carmichael Detention Centre are named as defendants in the action.

The statement of claim notes that on an unknown date in 2002, Lop travelled on a boat from Florida with a small crew, which developed problems and capsized close to Freeport.

After being rescued by two Bahamians who helped him take his boat to Freeport to be repaired, he was approached by officers who requested his documents.

The writ noted that Lop attempted to explain that he lost his documents at sea but he was arrested, taken to the immigration department and detained.

“Ramon Lop was arrested but was never brought before any court of law to answer any charges against him,” the writ read.

“There was no warrant for his arrest. He was not taken before any court and charged with having committed any offence. He was not the subject of a deportation order under the Immigration Act. He was falsely imprisoned in an unlawful facility for a period of eight months.”

It furthered that Lop plead with officials at the centre to assist him with his green card but he was informed that he would not be accepted by the US as he was out of the country for more than three months.

The writ claimed that Lop was told by Immigration Officer Stephen Laroda that he could be deported to Haiti, but he declined the suggestion.

Lop was released on an unknown date and told that he could remain in The Bahamas, the statement said.

In 2014, the Cuban-born man was arrested once again and taken before the courts on allegations of attempting to steal a boat to which he plead guilty and was sent to Fox Hill prison, and after a few days he was transferred back to the detention centre.

The writ further claimed that while imprisoned at the detention center, Lop “suffered cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment” and was also “deprived of the basic necessities of human existence”.

“The plaintiff is entitled to and claims aggravated and exemplary damages arising from his wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, confiscation and conversion of his personal property, wrongful detention and inhumane and degrading treatment,” it read.

The statement of claim added that the defendants acted “oppressively and arbitrarily” in their actions against Lop, without him being convicted of any violation under the Immigration Act.

Lop is seeking damages, costs on full indemnity and solicitor and own client basis certified fit for three counsel and other relief as the court may see fit.