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Justice Shoman Orders that the Cubans be Returned Home

And then there is the situation with undocumented Cubans. Several groups have been detained in the country, making their way to the US. As we reported on Monday, seven Cubans detained in Belize were denied their application for habeas corpus by Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman. Their attorney, Leo Bradley Jr. argued that the fundamental rights of these individuals were violated by the Department of Immigration. Justice Shoman disagreed and ordered that the Cubans be returned to their home country. Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Courtenay welcomed the news and he explained why: 

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “I’m very happy with the decision and I, quite easily, because we have been in touch over it, happily say I am happy that Agassi and Samantha were victorious in that case. I mean we have no issues professionally. In that particular case, what we have are people who do not qualify for refugee status in Belize. You cannot apply for refugee status and say I am fleeing from Cuba. I want refugee status in Belize so I can go to the states. You have to claim refugee status and stay in the country that grants that to you. On their face, on their application and in their evidence to the court they said they noh want stay yah. They want to go. So, what is it that they are trying to do? They are caught. They are prosecuted. Some smart lawyer says “claim asylum. I will get you to go to Help for Progress. There’ll be no security and overnight you run and gone.” We would be tacitly facilitating human smuggling. In the case of the Cubans, it’s a difficult situation. It’s a difficult situation because we cannot deport them to a certain country. We have to send them back to Cuba. There are no direct flights. There is no bus. There is no boat to Cuba. So, we’re actively talking to friends about how we can get that done in relation to this one and in September, we had negotiations in Cuba with the Cuban Government, trying to have a protocol on the deportation of Cubans from Belize. We are trying to create a scenario in which the Immigration Laws of Belize are obeyed, that those who are legitimate asylum seekers will get a fair hearing and if they satisfy the criteria, will be given refugee status and protection and we are also trying to ensure that only Belizeans have Belizean nationality. I just received my advice from the Crowns on how to cancel approximately 30 nationalities that are illegal and I’m going to cancel them. We are trying to clean up a very difficult situation. Put it that way.”