Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2022. 10:53 am CST.
By BBN Staff: This week, the Human Rights Commission of Belize continued its complicated legal battle for the freedom of seven Cuban nationals on remand at the Belize Central Prison. And while the Supreme Court ruled that they will remain on remand until their Habeas Corpus hearing next week, one of the detainees whose children are currently in the custody of the Department of Human Services, will be allowed to see her kids once a day.
On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman heard submissions yesterday from Leo Bradley Jr. attorney for the Cubans, and from Crown Counsel Agassi Finnegan, before adjourning the case for April 11.
In a one-hour-long submission, Bradley asked the court to: 1. Release all 7 Cubans, (applicants) immediately from custody at the Belize Central Prison pursuant to Section 46-7-32 of the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rule, 2005; 2. Return the children, currently under the care of the Human Services Department, back to their mother; 3. To write a writ of Habeas Corpus (which prevents unlawful imprisonment); and 4. To award damages (monetary compensation) to the applicants. He also requested alternate arrangements for the Cubans, so they would not have to spend their time waiting for their court date in prison.
Finnegan objected, stressing that Bradley did not follow proper procedure when he filed his submissions, noting that 57-2-2- of the Civil Procedure Rules states that an application under the rules could be made without notice, but must be supported by affidavits and the application must be made by the persons who are being restrained. Finnegan said that Bradley made his submission without the necessary affidavits. She also objected to the Cubans being let out of prison because they are a flight risk.
After considering the submissions, Justice Shoman, expressed a desire to let the Cubans out of jail, but regretfully said to them, “I am very sorry but I have no other arrangement otherwise.”
Shoman stressed that since the matter touches on the liberties of the applicants, it must be dealt with thoroughly, hence the adjournment. She ordered that the mother be allowed to speak to her children for an hour a day until the matter is resolved.
The Cubans – seven adults, and two minors, were detained on February 15, for entering Belize illegally. They claimed they were seeking asylum, but authorities say that they did not file the proper documentation to do so. They were originally scheduled to be deported back to Cuba; however the HRCB filed for the writ of habeas corpus, and they had to remain in Belize for those court proceedings.
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