TRUST THE PROCESS: PM assures shanty towns will be demolished “compassionately”

TRUST THE PROCESS: PM assures shanty towns will be demolished “compassionately”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday dismissed criticism that he was ‘pandering’ on the issue of immigration, as he assured that shanty towns across the country will be demolished once the necessary steps have been taken. 

Speaking with reporters yesterday on the sidelines of the official groundbreaking of the Montage Cay development, Davis said: “Demolition will come but that will come after steps have been taken.

“We don’t want to solve one problem and create another. We don’t want to demolish places where people are living and they have no place to stay, that’s one issue. The documented Haitians who are in the shanty towns, we are going to find who their employers are and oblige those employers to find them a place to stay.”

Davis continued: “Undocumented persons living in those shanty towns, we will process them and repatriate them. Bahamians living in the shanty towns, we will speak to them and ask them to move out. That is a process. That is ongoing as we speak. Once all those are settled, you will see the shanty towns being demolished.”

Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis accused the prime minister of pandering on the immigration issue following an address by the nation’s leader on February 19.

“I don’t understand what he means by pandering. The overarching principle is that the rule of law must prevail and that we will be enforcing the law. I have always said that. There is no pandering or shift in my tone. That’s what I have said and continue to say.  I have also said that the application of the law will be done compassionately and humanely,” said Davis.

Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson discharged an injunction that previously barred the government from demolishing structures in shanty towns in New Providence and Abaco. The injunction stemmed from a judicial review application brought by shanty town residents in 2018 into whether their removal was constitutional.

Acknowledging that the issue was a “crucial matter of national importance,” Grant-Thompson in a 70-page decision ruled that the original injunction instituted in 2018 is now discharged, meaning that the government is no longer restrained from taking possession of, demolishing, or otherwise “lawfully interfering with the applicants’ and other residents’ and occupants’ enjoyment of land in shanty towns in New Providence or elsewhere in The Bahamas.”