The Barbados High Court will on Monday hand down its ruling on whether to continue hearing the case brought by Cuban drug convict Raul Garcia for his release from nearly three years of immigration detention.
When the Number Six Supreme Court Judge, Justice Margaret Reifer, sat this afternoon to hear the substantive case and decide on the lawfulness of Garcia’s continued detention, lead attorney for the State, Donna Brathwaite made a submission which created a new twist to the proceedings.
Brathwaite was allowed to present arguments challenging the jurisdiction of the court to further enquire into the validity of the detention order and deportation order issued by the minister responsible for immigration.†She suggested that all of these orders were issued by the minister in compliance with the Immigration Act, and were therefore lawful.
The attorney observed that section 21, sub-section three of the act, showed that the deportation order did not become invalid by the lapse of time and remained valid after being made, unless cancelled by the minister.
“And the minister has not cancelled the order,” she pointed out.
Brathwaite also submitted that, according to section 23, no court has jurisdiction to question or otherwise interfere with the order of the minister relating to refusal of permission to enter Barbados or removal of a person from the country, unless the person is a citizen or permanent resident of Barbados.
The legal counsel cited various precedence, including a 2002 case in which the chief immigration officer revoked an application for CARICOM status for heart specialist Dr. Alfred Sparman and on appeal, the judge interpreted section 23 of the act to denote that the decision of the immigration chief, was not subject to review by the court, unless challenged by a citizen.
In response, lead attorney for Garcia, David Comissiong, dismissed the State’s arguments and instead referred to section 22 of the same act, which declared that a person could only be detained for as long as may be reasonably necessary while arrangements are made for their removal from Barbados.
Comissiong insisted that the power of detention conferred on the minister was strictly limited to the sole purpose of effecting lawful removal or deportation and such period as may be necessary for making arrangements for his removal.
“Therefore, any detention outside of that section 22, is unlawful,” the defence law submitted.
He argued, too, that the constitutional rights of personal liberty of his client was breach by his continued detention, especially since he had served his 20-year sentence and was still being held almost three years later.
The presiding judge said if her ruling on Monday went in favour of the claimant, the matter would continue the following day.
However, Comissiong told Barbados TODAY afterwards, that even if the State won, he had the option, which he intended to exercise, to file immediately for a judicial review of the case.
“So it’s not the end,” he explained. (EJ)