NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A man who suffers from “intense schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder” is seeking damages from the government for false imprisonment for seven years and four months, according to a writ filed in the Supreme Court.
Alfairs Agregory Higgs, a resident of Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, was unlawfully imprisoned on January 2014 and released on or around June 17, 2021, without ever being charged with a crime.
He was not given a reason for his arrest, denied legal representation and held in the maximum security section of the Department of Correctional Services, then Her Majesty’s Prison, for seven years and five months.
During his time in the maximum security, he was allegedly beaten, verbally assaulted and buggered multiple times by other inmates, making him fearful and paranoid.
He was also allegedly subjected to poor quality food and no sanitary conveniences or ventilation, and was forced to sleep on the floor and use a five-gallon bucket to defecate.
He was also allegedly verbally threatened, intimidated and physically touched by various officers.
Before his release, he was transferred to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for several days for “immigration purposes”.
He has sought damages for assault, battery, arbitrary and unlawful detention and false imprisonment, as well as breaches of his fundamental rights under the Constitution.
According to court documents, Higgs was unlawfully detained by a “premeditated and systematic policy” observed by the government that existed for decades and was intensified in 2014.
He argued that the policy was illegal and unconstitutional, and in breach of domestic laws, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Police Act and the Immigration Act, as well as international treaties and conventions the government is voluntarily bound to.
“The policy continues to be observed and vigorously implemented despite the laws passed by Parliament, repeated judgments of the court of The Bahamas, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Privy Council, which repeatedly condemned the policy in respect of each plaintiff who was subjected to it, and the lip service paid by the government to its international obligations,” read the writ, which added that the government has no respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals guaranteed under the constitution in The Bahamas.
According to the writ, Higgs was also deprived of a score of constitutional rights, including being subjected to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment.
Higgs has sought general damages, including vindicatory damages and aggravated and exemplary damages for the injuries, loss and damage sustained.
According to the writ, Higgs suffers from intense schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder and is in need of psychotherapy involving cognitive behavior therapy as anxiety and symptoms abate.
Higgs, the plaintiff, is represented by Calenders & Co.
The defendants are named as Attorney General Ryan Pinder, Minister of Immigration Keith Bell, Director of Immigration Clarence Russell, Officer in Charge of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre Fausteen Major-Smith, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle, Commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Service Charles Murphy and Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Dr Raymond King.