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Jul 3, 2018

Bhrea Bowen Gets 10K from GSU Lawsuit

A constitutional case has finally brought relief to a minor whose liberty was breached by the Gang Suppression Unit.  Six years ago, on July six, 2012, then fourteen-year-old Brhea Bowen was arrested by the Gang Suppression Unit while at a summer camp. On that same day, the G.S.U. searched her home on Lacroix Boulevard in Belize City and found three sixteen-gauge shotgun cartridges. Her mother Romie Anthony and her brother Amir Anthony, who were present at the time of the search, were arrested. But the GSU officers went to look for the minor to arrest and charge her.  Three days later, the family of three was jointly charged for Kept Unlicensed Ammunition without a Firearm License. Romie and Amir Anthony were remanded to the central prison, while Bowen was sent to the Princess Royal Youth Hostel for seventy days. Bowen says that as a teenager, it was a traumatic and horrific experience. But what would proceed after her release in September 2012 would be four years of court appearances which added to her emotional distress. At the time, provisions in the Firearms Act allowed officers to arrest any person who was deemed to have been an ordinary resident at the premises. Now twenty years old, Bowen decided to obtain legal redress and hired Attorney Anthony Sylvestre to file a claim in the Supreme Court, on the grounds that her constitutional rights were breached. The claim also requested damages which Justice Shona Griffith granted. Sylvestre explains.


Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Bhrea Bowen

Anthony Sylvestre

“The court determined that the claim, the constitutional claim, had merit and it was declared that the authorities, they breached her constitutional right not to be deprived of her liberty unless there is reasonable suspicion. They misapplied the law. The law at the time as you may have recalled, the infamous gun law for which many, many persons may have been swept or arrested under the provisions of the law. Interestingly the court declared that in her review and analysis of the law it does appear that the authorities would have been misapplying the law in many and most cases. But of course as the court also explained there are time limits for which claims would have had to been brought. So those persons clearly they would have been or maybe be out of time to bring any such claim. We are delighted because as the court indicated it is a declaration and vindication to Bowen who was a minor at the time. The award, as the court has explained the outline, there are consideration taken to and are factored when the court makes a determination as to the quantum. The sum was ten thousand dollars but as she had explained this is no indication that the court takes likely of her horrific experience. But as a matter of law factors such as the conduct of the authorities, was her arrest peculiar and specific to her? No, as she explained. It seems that the law was misapplied generally against the citizenry. That being so, in contrast to other cases where you had the conduct of the state actors, the police officers were regarded as being overzealous or being aggravated by way for instance inflicting an assault or doing things which would not ordinarily come within the scope of their duties. So those were matters which were factored and which weighed in her determination that a sum of ten thousand dollars was an appropriate sum.”

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