Seven Cuban nationals returned to prison until next week; children allowed 1 hour visit with the mother per day

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Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2022. 10:53 a.m. CST.

From BBN staff: This week, the Belize Human Rights Commission continued its complicated legal battle for the release of seven Cuban nationals remanded to Belize Central Jail. And while the Supreme Court has ruled they will remain in remand until their habeas corpus hearing next week, one of the inmates whose children are currently in the custody of the Department of Human Services, will be allowed to see her children once a day.

On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman heard submissions from Cubans attorney Leo Bradley Jr. and Crown attorney Agassi Finnegan yesterday, before adjourning the case to April 11.

In an hour-long submission, Bradley asked the court to: 1. Immediately release the 7 Cubans (plaintiffs) from custody at the Belize Central Jail, pursuant to Rule 46-7-32 of Civil Procedure of the Supreme Court, 2005; 2. Return the children, currently in the custody of the Department of Social Services, to their mother; 3. Write a writ of habeas corpus (which prevents unlawful imprisonment); and 4. Award damages (monetary compensation) to the claimants. He also asked for alternative arrangements for the Cubans, so they don’t have to spend their time waiting for their court date in jail.

Finnegan objected, pointing out that Bradley did not follow proper procedure when filing his submissions, noting that 57-2-2- of the Civil Procedure Rules states that a claim under the rules can be made. without notice, but must be supported by affidavits and the application must be made by the persons who are the subject of the restraint. Finnegan said Bradley made his submission without the necessary affidavits. She also objected to the Cubans being released from prison because they pose a flight risk.

After reviewing the submissions, Judge Shoman expressed a desire to let the Cubans out of jail, but reluctantly told them, “I’m really sorry, but I have no other arrangement.”

Shoman pointed out that since the case affects the petitioners’ freedoms, it must be dealt with thoroughly, hence the adjournment. She ordered that the mother be allowed to talk to her children for one hour a day until the matter is resolved.

The Cubans – seven adults and two minors, were arrested Feb. 15 for entering Belize illegally. They claimed they were seeking asylum, but authorities say they did not file the necessary paperwork to do so. They were originally to be deported to Cuba; however, the HRCB requested the writ of habeas corpus and they had to remain in Belize for these legal proceedings.

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