Woman seeks court order over alleged delay of citizenship consideration
A woman of Haitian descent born in The Bahamas is asking a Supreme Court judge to order the director of immigration to register her as a citizen of The Bahamas or consider her application, which she said has been pending for five years.
In court documents, Dahene Nonord, 23, said she applied for Bahamian citizenship in September 2013, shortly after she turned 18.
She claimed that in the five years since her application was submitted, it has not been processed to a conclusion.
In an originating notice of motion, Nonord is asking the court to intervene.
The motion was filed on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis; Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette; the board of immigration; Director of Immigration Clarence Russell and Attorney General Carl Bethel are listed as the respondents.
Nonord is seeking a declaration that the director of immigration and the immigration board acted in breach of the constitution in failing to consider her application within a reasonable time, and that the director of immigration acted in bad faith in refusing to consider her application within a reasonable time.
She is also asking for a court order of mandamus requiring the director of immigration to register her as a citizen of The Bahamas forthwith; or alternatively an order of mandamus requiring the director of immigration to properly and in a timely manner exercise his discretion under Article 7 of the constitution to consider whether to register her as a citizen of The Bahamas.
She is also asking the court for damages because of misfeasance she claims was committed by the respondents by their failure to determine and/or grant her citizenship application within a reasonable time or at all.
She claims the government breached her constitutional rights when it failed to process her application in a timely manner.
“Ms. Nonord’s application contained all the required information and documentations as confirmed by Immigration Officer King and did not fall within any exception or qualification,” the document said.
“In addition, Ms. Nonord is not a citizen of any other country and in any event was not asked by the Department of Immigration to renounce any such citizenship. Ms. Nonord is a Bahamian citizen in waiting.
“As such, the director was required by law to register Ms. Nonord as a citizen of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and to do so in a timely manner.”
Nonord is represented by Callenders and Co.
In an interview in August, Symonette lamented the backlog of applications for citizenship.
He said some people have been waiting for up to 20 years for citizenship because of this backlog.
Symonette said immigration officers are challenged but are doing their best.
When he visited a Haitian church last year, Minnis pledged to expedite the process for approving citizenship and permanent residency applications in the country.
“It is not fair, nor is it just, that so many who are born in The Bahamas and are entitled to citizenship are being marginalized,” he said.
The government later established a Citizenship Commission to deal with citizenship applications of people born in The Bahamas who applied within the constitutionally entitled timeframe.