By P.J. Malone
The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas gave a comprehensive response to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights addressing the petition filed by the five Save The Bays individuals and the subsequent resolution enacted by the Commission.
These five individuals—Fred Smith QC, Francisco Nunez, Joseph Darville, Kirkland Bodie and Romauld Ferreria—are associated with the Save The Bays (STB) organization; after claiming that their lives are in danger and that some had to flee the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in their petition to the Commission, the Government promised to investigate further, and found evidence that suggested otherwise.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell stated in a previous press statement, “The Government is currently preparing a comprehensive response to the Commission, in which it will set out the true nature of the facts in this matter, and which will reveal that the allegations presented to the Commission by STB were misrepresented and sensationalized to garner international attention—and disguise the personal motivation behind several of the legal cases they are marshalling before the Bahamian courts.”
A comprehensive response was presented to the Commission and laid out in 83 points. The Government presented its case and the evidence supporting its position as well as reassured the Commission of the Government’s “respect for the Rule of Law and the safety of all within its borders”.
This noteworthy point was made in the response: “Before addressing the specific allegations and the Government’s responses, the Commission should understand the context in which these allegations and the situation of the Petitioners arise… there is a legitimate concern by the Government that the Commission may have acted on information and narratives that are not only incomplete, but deliberately exaggerated and in some cases on allegations that are either unfounded or knowingly false.”
The context noted include the following points:
- All five Petitioners are affiliated with Save The Bays (STB).
- Hedge-fund billionaire Louis Bacon is a major funder of Save The Bays.
- Neighbours Fashion mogul Peter Nygard and Louis Bacon are embroiled in a long-running and acrimonious legal dispute that is also playing out through public expressions; in public expressions private individuals are exercising their right to free speech in situations which are controlled and monitored by the Police with no affiliation to the Government.
- The STB group commenced judicial review challenges in 2013 to proposed developments by Peter Nygard on his private property.
- Both Bacon and Nygard have made financial contributions to political parties; political donations do not connote a connection to that political party.
The following are some of the points presented on the activism of Fred Smith, QC:
“Petitioner Smith in particular has a long history of using the media and other public fora to draw attention to various causes, whether associated with litigation (purportedly in the interest of the environment or human rights) or other political causes. In this regard, it is important for the Commission to know that Petitioner Smith is a longtime and ardent supporter of the opposition party (FNM) and opposes the current Government.
“In an affidavit filed before the Privy Council in 2006 (referred to further below), Mr. Smith indicated that: “I have been active in the political field, assisting in organizing and managing the FNM party legal teams in Grand Bahama in the last five general elections. I have also acted for the FNM party in several election court cases as against the other main party, the PLP”. (See copy of affidavit at Appendix 4.) Mr. Smith has also announced that he is considering running as a candidate in the 2017 election, and that he will run as ‘an FNM or an independent’.
“In fact, and as will emerge shortly, two of the Petitioners (both Mr. Smith and Mr. Ferreira), are either candidates for high political office (or have announced intention to do) on the ticket of the political party opposed to the Government.
“General elections must be held before the 7 May 2017, and election campaigning is well underway. Therefore, the Commission cannot close its eyes to the possibility that its processes are being abused by several of these petitioners for political motives, including to further their political aspirations.”
These are just some of the facts that point to evidence that suggests that Fred Smith and Save The Bays have ulterior motives for their actions and petition to the Commission. There is much more in the 83-point Government response document.
Interestingly enough, these are the details left out of the articles in other newspapers that appear to focus on reporting Fred Smith’s attacks on the Government’s response and not on revealing the evidence that was presented in that response.
One article cannot do justice to the revelations in this 83-points document to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. We need to present all of the facts and evidence that have been revealed. Therefore, we will review them one by one in upcoming Clifton Review articles before returning to the series commenced previously.