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Court will hear Garcia

The Supreme Court in Barbados has the power and†authority to hear a case in which Cuban drug convict, Raul†Garcia, is contending that his continued detention by†Immigration officials is unlawful and that he should†therefore be released.

This was the ruling of Justice Margaret Reifer, which she†announced this morning in the Number 6 Supreme Court,†after the lawyer for the Minister responsible for Immigration†and the Chief Immigration Officer, Donna Brathwaite, last†week challenged the jurisdiction of the court to further†enquire into the lawfulness of the detention, arguing that†the tribunal had no such jurisdiction.

Brathwaite had submitted that an ouster clause in the†Immigration Act, barred the court from enquiring into or†reviewing the order issued by the minister to detain or†deport Garcia, who is still being held nearly three years†after serving out his 20-year sentence for drug trafficking.

But Justice Reifer insisted that the writ of habeas corpus which Garcia’s attorney, David Comissiong filed, called for†the protection of a person’s liberty and hence permitted the†court to make a determination to ensure that the†Constitutional right to such personal liberty was preserved.

She also stated that ouster clauses, which formed the core† of the State lawyer’s submission, were subject to challenge†as highlighted by legal learning. The presiding judge in such circumstances, rejected the†State’s argument and announced that the substantive case†would be heard tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock.

Commenting afterwards, Comissiong said the ruling†confirmed the role of the Supreme Court in Barbados in having the ultimate power to enquire into questions relating to declaration of liberty of all human beings in this country.†He said the issue of people’s liberty was supreme and†sacred and protected by the supreme law of the land, the†Constitution.

“I was surprised that the Solicitor General’s Department†would raise whether the court had jurisdiction. This issue†has been determined over and over again,” the attorney†observed.

Garcia, dressed in a burnt orange short sleeve shirt, beige†pants and matching shoes, arrived in the court this†morning, accompanied by three immigration officers. (EJ)

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