Attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, lawyer representing social activist Luzette King, is of the view that the decision to bring an immigration charge against her client last weekend, was political.
“This is not about immigration or COVID-19 protocols. This is clearly political,” Bacchus-Baptiste said
King, a resident of Mesopotamia, appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne during a virtual hearing on Monday. She pleaded not guilty and was granted $2,000 bail with one surety. She was expected to return to Court yesterday (Thursday) when a determination was expected to be made as to whether she will continue to quarantine at the government designated guest house or go home.
King has been charged under section 27(D) of the Immigration Act for failing to present herself to an Immigration Officer on January 30, at the Argyle International Airport.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that if the authorities really wanted to bring an immigration charge against her client, they had two opportunities to do so.
The lawyer said King has been charged in strange circumstance because on her arrival at the Argyle International Airport, on January 30, when she was alleged to have committed the offence, they did not charge her, but instead, she was sent back to the United States.
Bacchus-Baptiste said King returned here on February 6, and they sought to deport her again. The time, the plane did not take her, and it was then they decided to take her to the Biabou Police Station and charge her with the immigration offence.
“This is not about COVID, and this is not about immigration. This is about getting at Luzette,” the lawyer opined.
“What is most disturbing is that Luzette made an application to be exempted from having to spend 14 days in quarantine at a hotel as Covid protocols require. The application was founded on the bases that: King could not afford to pay for the 14 days as she is unemployed; that she lives alone in a house where she can safely quarantine; and that her doctor had placed her on special dietary requirement, which she will not be able to get while staying at a hotel.”
According to Bacchus-Baptiste her client got no response from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO); neither did King’s team despite numerous efforts to reach the health authorities.
Bacchus-Baptiste said King had returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on on February 6, hoping to get the exemption when she arrived at the Airport, but that was denied.
Bacchus-Baptiste is also of the view that the virtual hearing set up for her client, was designed to manipulate the system, and to keep the press away, as well as members of the public who may have a keen interest in the matter.
Source : The Vincentian