Do not release Cuba-born ex-drug convict Raul Garcia from detention.
That was the plea this afternoon from attorney-at-law for the Barbados Government, Donna Brathwaite during her closing argument before Supreme Court Judge, Margaret Reifer in the case brought by Garcia’s lawyer, David Comissiong.
Comissiong has already made his case in which he suggested that his client’s continued detention by immigration authorities was unlawful, unconstitutional and therefore he should be freed immediately.
But Brathwaite countered that the claimant was merely being detained pending deportation and was not imprisoned or incarcerated as alleged by Comissiong. She argued that the deportation order issued by the minister responsible for immigration on March 24, 2010, remained in force, since it has never been cancelled by him.
“The continued detention of the claimant is legal and he therefore ought not to be released,” added the State counsel.
Without regards to the contentious length of time which Garcia was being kept, almost three years after serving out a 20 year sentence, Brathwaite noted that deportation was a process involving serving of the order, removal of the person at the subject of that order from one country to another.
Another ground for “justifying” that the claimant be kept in custody, was that the order had after effects, long after his removal from the country.
She pointed out that when a person was deported, they had to remain out of the country so long as the order was in force.
“In this matter, a valid deportation order is in effect. It is an order requiring the person against whom it is made, to leave and remain out of our base,” explained the lawyer.
Brathwaite also told the court that Section 22 (2) of the Immigration Act, “makes provision for the minister to order that persons be detained in such a place as the minister directs and for such period may be necessary for purposes of making arrangements for removal from Barbados”.
“The continued detention of Garcia has been for a period necessary for the purpose of making arrangements for his removal from Barbados. We submit, that the length of time of the detention is not unreasonable, unlawful or contrary to the Constitution, as being asserted by the claimant,” she noted.
“We recognise that the power of detention under an immigration act is limited to such period as is reasonably necessary to carry out the process of deportation. It is also implicit that the authority responsible for the making of the deportation order, exercises all reasonable expedition to ensure that for any detention of claimants, steps are being taken to ensure removal of claimants from Barbados, within a reasonable time.”
She also asked the court to reject suggestions by the defence that Garcia had lost his right to return to his homeland, under new Cuban policies.
Brathwaite submitted that reports of such polices remained a contentious fact. She referred to evidence from Foreign Affairs Officer John Blackman who said certain policies were in place in Cuba with regards to repatriation of its nationals and that those policies were changed from time to time.
“Notwithstanding its policies, the Cuban government has on occasions made exceptions and have accepted the repatriation of nationals and that in respect of Garcia, discussions with the Cuban Government are still ongoing,” the counsel informed the court.
The attorney is expected to complete her submission tomorrow morning when the hearing resumes at 11 o’clock. (EJ)