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Apr 22, 2022

Judge Gives Human Rights Attorneys One Last Chance to Get it Right; Cubans Remanded Until Tuesday

The case of seven Cubans who are charged with immigration offences has been adjourned until next Tuesday. This is to give the Human Rights attorneys who have filed a case on their behalf to file proper affidavits and to serve the state by Monday afternoon. The Human Rights Commission had brought a suit against the state on grounds that the Cubans’ Constitutional rights had been violated because they were not informed in the language they understand what offence they had committed. But documents that the Commission attorneys have filed, including new ones filed this morning, contain errors. News Five’s Marion Ali was in the courtroom and filed the following report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Human Rights attorneys Leo Bradley Junior and Cynthia Pitts, as well as attorneys for the Crown, Samantha Matute-Tucker and Agassi Finnegan, appeared in the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice, Lisa Shoman this morning to argue the matter brought that the Commission brought before the court. But the case could not proceed because there were technical errors on the documents they presented and both sides were summoned in the Judges’ chambers to discuss the matter. Attorney Pitts explained for us that if they don’t get it right this time, the case falls through.

Cynthia Pitts

Cynthia Pitts, Vice President, Human Rights Commission of Belize
“Certain documents are not in order and so the judge has given the attorneys for the applicants, and the main attorney is Mr. [Leo] Bradley, the President, and I’m only there assisting him. She has given us the opportunity to go and amend or re-file, you would say, and that is to take place, and be filed in the Registry by Monday morning and served by Monday afternoon.”


The Cubans arrived in Belize in February, and have been here ever since. Pitts explained that things went wrong for them since then.

Cynthia Pitts

“We have in the Refugee Act that anyone who comes – you don’t have to have any papers because if you are running, you will not have time to get papers. You should be able to ask for asylum. Now, it doesn’t seem that they were very up front with it but in speaking to them, they will say “I don’t want to go back to Cuba.” But we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuba, which states that anyone who arrives here by land or by sea should be sent back, and so – that is a contradiction. But note that this case is not founded on really the refugee aspect. It is founded on the fact that they have detained for fifty plus days that they were fined for illegal entry and they paid their fine. And then they were given a removal order. But because there is not an arrangement between Belize and Cuba as to the transportation, you have to stay in prison.”


One of the Cuban women has twin children who are in the custody of the state at a children’s home. But in Court today, she complained that when she last saw her daughters, one of them told her they were told to clean up after rodents.


Cynthia Pitts

“It was to clean up the urine of rats, I think and Madam Justice Shoman made it clear that the state attorneys should say to the Human Development that these children were not there to do any cleaning. They were in the care of – and these are children who, one has had open heart surgery and I think that is the one who unfortunately had an accident while in custody and the dentist had to do surgery in her mouth.”


The case resumes on Tuesday and if at that time the Human Rights attorneys have everything is in order; dates will be set on when the hearing will begin. If not, the case will be dismissed.


Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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