Dahres Bannister

Jazz In The Gardens Is Back!

Jazz In The Gardens (JITG) is known for its surprises. You go into the event knowing who you are looking forward to hearing and seeing, but you never know which artist will make you a new fan of theirs, simply because of their performance at JITG.

Back, for its 12th installment, Jazz in the Gardens is coming again to fill our ears and move our souls.

This years’ concert is spread out over two days:

Day One: Trombone Shorty, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, Fantasia.

Day Two: Anita Baker, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Joe.

Also performing are JITG all-stars like Pieces Of a Dream,  Walter Beasley, and Avery*Sunshine.

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Residents sue government over landfill fires.

One-hundred and eleven Jubilee Gardens residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the government and Renew Bahamas, claiming their health and that of their families, and the enjoyment of their homes, have been impacted by fires and hazardous smoke from the New Providence Landfill for years.

In a writ filed by Fred Smith, QC, who represents the group, the residents claim they have all been “injuriously affected by the continuous fires; thick, black smoke; unbearable stench and dangerous, toxic and hazardous emissions occasioned by the fires from the New Providence Landfill”.

“By reason thereof, the residents of Jubilee have suffered loss, damage, personal injury, trauma, ill health, sickness and disease to themselves personally and their families, and likewise damage and loss to their homes and belongings,” read the document filed on Friday.

“The residents of Jubilee have, in short, been sickened to near death; their lives continuously disrupted; subjected to constant medical and regular temporary relocation expenses; the value of their homes rendered almost worthless; and their belongings damaged.

“Their lives are in a state of constant crisis and turmoil.”

Melissa Allen-Maynard is named as the lead plaintiff, representing the interests of the 111 residents.

The defendants are Renew Bahamas, the minister of environment and housing, the director of the Department of Environmental Health, the minister of public works and the attorney general.

The residents are seeking general damages for “nuisance and/or negligence”, in a sum to be assessed; for repair costs to their homes; medical costs; and damages for the “breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment outlined in the conveyance between the minister of the environment and housing and the residents of Jubilee”.

The residents are also seeking special damages for expenses incurred in relation to cleaning as a result of thick smoke; displacement costs as a result of the proximity of the fires; and professional fees for appraisers and environmentalists.

An April 2017 Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) report found that the landfill was an “urgent health hazard” and presented a “chronic health risk” for workers at the site and surrounding community.

The Ministry of Environment and Housing received the report on April 28, 2017, but the then environment minister, Kenred Dorsett, did not release it to the public.

The PAHO team said health assessments have to be performed on residents of Jubilee Gardens and Victoria Gardens, as well as workers at the landfill, a process the government confirmed last week was ongoing.

It was further claimed in the lawsuit that residents have been poisoned by carcinogenic gases, hydrocarbons and metals, all of which can seriously impact vital organs and cause cancer.

In due course the particulars on the loss and damage for each plaintiff will be outlined, according to the writ.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Jubilee residents continued that, when these residents contracted the government to purchase homes in the Jubilee Gardens Subdivision, an area “designated by the minister of environment and housing to be a safe residential neighborhood”, they were not made aware of the “catastrophe in store”.

The document said the residents relied on the minister, and his duty of care, to provide land for their homes in a non-hazardous, non-toxic, non-dangerous environment.

The residents claimed the minister breached that duty of care by failing to properly assess the danger of placing residents so close to the site; failing to operate the landfill to prevent serious uncontrolled fires that have occurred in close proximity to their homes; and failing to prevent harmful pollutants and emissions.

The lawsuit also said Renew Bahamas had this same duty of care during the company’s management period.

Renew Bahamas was responsible for managing the landfill between 2014 and 2016.

The government was responsible for the site prior to and following Renew Bahamas’ engagement.

The Minnis administration has said it is closer to a solution at the landfill than it has ever been before.

The latest request for proposals (RFP) for the remediation and operation of the landfill is expected to be completed by the end of March.

The Christie administration issued two RFPs.

According to Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira, one RFP was a management proposal with a government stipend, and another was a waste-to-energy proposal.

Ferreira said a combination of both proposals would be an ideal solution.

The former administration committed to resolving the issues at the landfill by December 2017 as part of the heads of agreement with Baha Mar’s new owner, but the Bahamas government failed to do so.

Renew defends management

In a statement last Tuesday, Renew Bahamas advised that it had sought legal recourse against the government, claiming that, despite a more than $10 million investment in The Bahamas to positively impact the solid waste management industry, the company had to cease operations due to “unresolved disputes created by the government”.

Renew Bahamas claimed the government failed to adhere to significant terms of the landfill management agreement and refused to meet to facilitate a resolution, an 18-month process of “unsuccessfully trying to amicably resolve the disputes”.

“Renew has applied to the Supreme Court for relief, including the protection of its fixed and moveable assets which government has improperly and unlawfully restrained,” it said.

According to the company, despite suggestions from the government that Renew Bahamas failed operationally at the landfill, experts, including those engaged by the government from the University of Florida, confirmed the contrary.

“It is disappointing, as an investor who brought capital, technology and knowledge to train Bahamians, that we continue to be treated in this way,” Renew Bahamas said in a statement.

“As with other recent attacks on multi-national companies, it can only serve as a warning to potential investors that a lack of maturity exists in dealing with the government after deals are agreed upon.”
For more articles like this one, pick up a copy of The Nassau Guardian.

Detained Jean-Charles back in custody upon landing

Jean Rony Jean-Charles, the man at the center of a controversial immigration ruling that has attracted widespread national attention, landed back in The Bahamas from Haiti on Saturday afternoon, but was quickly taken into custody by immigration authorities after the judge in the matter agreed to an emergency stay of his judgment handed down nearly a week ago.

Jean-Charles is now back at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, and his fate remains uncertain.

The emergency stay was granted until the judge hears an application today from the Office of the Attorney General seeking an extended stay of execution of the ruling until the appeal of the judgment is heard by the Court of Appeal.

Jean-Charles, who was first picked up by immigration authorities on Fire Trail Road last September, is a Haitian national, according to the Department of Immigration.

After he was picked up that first time, he was asked to produce documents and had no documents in his possession, according to the ruling.

Immigration officers took Jean-Charles to the detention center for further processing.

A month later, without ever seeing a day in court, Jean-Charles was “put on a plane and involuntarily taken to Haiti”.

It was reportedly his first time leaving The Bahamas.

Fred Smith, QC, filed an action in the court on his behalf and won the case.

Last Tuesday, Justice Gregory Hilton ordered the government to immediately issue a travel document to Jean-Charles to allow him to travel back to The Bahamas.

Hilton also ruled that Jean-Charles be paid the cost of the travel forthwith upon his return.

Additionally, the judge ordered that Jean-Charles be issued status to permit him to remain in The Bahamas within 60 days of him applying. He further ordered that the applicant be paid costs and compensation for breaches to his fundamental rights and liberties.

On Friday, the Office of the Attorney General appealed the matter, noting in court documents that the appeal has far-reaching implications and is a matter of national importance to the government and to the country as a whole, and a speedy resolution of the matter will provide clarity in the area of immigration law.

On Saturday evening, Attorney General Carl Bethel explained why he sought the emergency stay.

“On Friday, I reached out to Fred Smith, the attorney for Jean Rony, or the person who says he is Jean Rony, and indicated that we wanted to go to court that day in order to argue for a stay of execution of the judge’s order,” Bethel said.

He told The Nassau Guardian that Smith advised that he was in Freeport and would not be present in court on Friday.

The court then agreed that the application for a stay would be heard this afternoon (Monday).

“In the course of our discussion, Mr. Smith had indicated that Mr. [Jean-Charles] was in a very remote location and it would take a day and a half to get to Port-au-Prince; that the earliest flight that he could find from Port-au-Prince was the 13th of February, and that he would not be sending his own private plane to pick up Mr. [Jean-Charles] — all of which would create a certain impression in the mind of a reasonable person,” Bethel said.

“Then, to my shock, today (Saturday) I received an email about roughly 1:45 [p.m.] to myself and the minister of immigration indicating that they expect for Mr. [Jean-Charles] to be landing in The Bahamas at 2:30 [p.m.]. I think the actual time may have been 3 p.m. when he got in.

“I immediately contacted the judge, indicated the situation and requested an emergency stay of execution of his order pending the full hearing of the matter at the scheduled time and date.

“The judge readily complied. Mr. Smith, when I told him, asked for the judge’s number, which I had only just gotten. I had managed to find the judge’s number by asking around. I gave the number to Mr. Smith.

“I think Mr. Smith reported that he had spoken to the judge and the judge remained firm in the ruling which he gave on the matter that his [ruling] be stayed, which meant that any landing in The Bahamas by Mr. [Jean-Charles] would have been contrary to the stay of execution, which meant that the order that the judge had made that he be allowed to land was delayed as of this afternoon until not earlier than the end of the hearing on Monday afternoon at which time he would make the determination whether the person would be allowed to land.”



Smith said on Saturday he was shocked that the emergency stay was issued.

“I don’t know what games [Immigration] Minister Brent Symonette and Attorney General Carl Bethel are playing in the Jean Rony case,” he said, adding that Jean-Charles arrived from Haiti on Flamingo Air.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with Mr. Symonette, had a travel document issued, an emergency travel document, and Mr. Symonette asked me to confirm when [Mr. Jean-Charles] would be arriving, and I did so today once Jean Rony was on a flight, and the next thing I knew was that Mr. Bethel had obtained an emergency stay of the judgment from the Supreme Court.

“I take the position that there is nothing to stay in respect of the travel document because the government already complied with that part of the judge’s ruling.

“It seems a bit perverse that they would issue a travel document, my client would then travel on it, and then they would apply for a stay.”

Asked why he would seek a stay of the ruling after the government granted Jean-Charles a travel document, the attorney general explained: “The minister of foreign affairs is simply seeking on his part to carry out a court order. And a court order has validity until it is countermanded by the court or by a higher court.

“So it would only have been upon the court granting a stay that the minister would have been able not to comply with the order. Every order takes effect from the moment it is pronounced.”

Smith said his side wishes to have damages assessed.

He told The Nassau Guardian last week that he intends to seek substantial damages.

In the meantime, he will argue against the stay being kept in place.

“I don’t understand why they (the government) are making such a big fuss about this poor, young man who was born in The Bahamas 35 years ago and [had] never been out of the country. What’s the big deal with Jean Rony?” Smith asked.

“A person belongs where they were born, and he knows no other home. Why not do the honorable thing and simply give him citizenship when he returns? What’s the big deal?”

Smith said he spoke to Jean-Charles while he was still in Haiti on Saturday morning and he was “happy and excited to be returning home”.

He said he had not spoken to him since he was detained once again but imagined Jean-Charles is “terrified” over the latest development in the matter.

Asked why Jean-Charles did not apply for citizenship after he turned 18 (as permitted by the Bahamas constitution), Smith said that was something he could not speak to.

Smith added that this matter has tremendous implications for all of those who were “unlawfully expelled from The Bahamas who were also born here”.

Even without the Jean-Charles ruling, people who fall in that category should take legal action “for their unconstitutional expulsion”, he added.

The application for a stay is scheduled to be heard before Hilton at 3 p.m. today.

For more articles like this one, pick up a copy of The Nassau Guardian.