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Shantytown case before judge on Thursday

Attorneys representing 177 shantytown residents on New Providence have filed an application for discovery in the Supreme Court, arguing that there has been no disclosure by the government in the case.

Last year, the government gave residents of most shantytowns on New Providence until August 10 to leave before it would have moved to begin demolition in the communities.

On August 4, the Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing the demolition of the shantytowns on New Providence.

The injunction was granted a day after Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted leave for a judicial review of the government’s actions regarding shantytowns.

There has been little movement on the matter in recent months, with the government having indicated in February that it had not yet filed its defense.

Attorney Fred Smith, QC, said yesterday that there will be a hearing on the matter on Thursday morning before Grant-Thompson.

The applicants, in this latest filing, are seeking policy documents, Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF) core and operational documents, crown title documents, communication documents, decision-making documents and the building assessment report.

“In this case the applicants are completely in the dark as to how the policy was formulated and thus by what law the government seeks to justify its actions,” the court document said.

“The policy arrives as if out of the head of Zeus.

“The applicants therefore ask for disclosure of all documents relating to the policy, including notes, memoranda, meeting minutes, discussions papers, press releases, correspondences, consultations or other documents that relate to or evidence the formulation of the policy and its execution.”

The respondents in the matter include Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who has responsibility for lands; Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, who chairs the SATF; Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister; Attorney General Carl Bethel; Bahamas Power and Light; and the Water and Sewerage Corporation.

The applicants are Respect Our Homes Ltd. and Lumane Nonord et al being 177 residents and or occupants of shantytowns in The Bahamas.

“The applicants contend that the documents they seek are both relevant and necessary in order to dispose fairly of the proceedings and there is a clear need for discovery at this interim stage in order for the constitutional action to proceed properly and the judicial review challenge to be properly determined,” the court document said.

It added, “There was no exchange of information prior to commencement of proceedings.

“A letter of claim was sent on 29 July 2018, but due to the need to start proceedings to obtain urgent injunctive relief, pre-action correspondence did not run its course.

“The current position is that there has been no disclosure from the respondents whatsoever.

“The deficiency is so bad that, as noted above, the applicants do not even have full particulars of the very decisions they are seeking to review.”

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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