Kingstown Magistrate Bertie Pompey has admitted that he was wrong when he told the prosecution that there were no charges made out against a Grenadian man brought up on three immigration offences.
During the court proceedings on Jan. 5, the magistrate told the prosecution that no charge was made out and gave them time to amend or withdraw what was proffered to the court.
Sydney Fortune of Grenada had pleaded guilty to three immigration offences when he appeared before Pompey in Kingstown.
As the prosecution was about to present the facts, the magistrate said, “Let me just say, this doesn’t really disclose an offence. I’ve stated that already.
“‘Entered the state by boat?’. So if I enter the state by boat, is that an offence? There is no distinction between him here (a non-national) and myself (a national) if I commit the same act.
“I have stated it before already. The person must either be a national of X,Y,X country or a non-national of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who entered the state by boat. And that will distinguish him from the other Vincentians.”
The magistrate granted the prosecution an adjournment until Jan. 8 to amend or withdraw the charge.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Jan. 8, it was pointed out to the magistrate that wording of the charges were in fact in keeping with the immigration laws.
Section 5 (1) of the law under which Fortune was charged read:
“A person entering Saint Vincent and the Grenadines without a passport shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant unless and until he establishes his identity and nationality to the satisfaction of an immigration officer.”
Section 10(2) states that “A person entering Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by sea shall not disembark without the consent of an immigration officer, and the master of the ship shall not allow any such person to disembark without such consent.”
Fortune, a 26-year-old farmer, was charged that on Jan. 3, 2018 at Rose Bank, he “entered the state by boat other than at port of entry”.
He was further charged that at the same date and place, he “entered the state by boat and disembarked without the consent of an immigration officer”
A third charge was that Fortune “entered the state without a passport” on Jan. 3, 2018 at Rose Bank.
After the clarification was made, the guilty pleas were accepted and Fortune was fined EC$800 on each count to be paid forthwith or face six months imprisonment on each count.