Crispin Hall, a young, hard-charging lawyer with a soft spot for the underdog and a streak of compassion, has become only the second person in Bahamian history to be appointed to the United Nations Human Rights High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). Hall will take his new post with the official title of Associate Protection Officer July 15. He leaves Callenders & Co., the nation’s oldest law firm, to assume the role that his work at the firm known for its human rights and environmental advocacy prepared him for.
Callenders managing partner Frederick Smith, QC, praised Hall.“Crispin has brought a passion for justice to every human rights case we have built and presented since the day he joined Callenders,” said Smith. “We will miss his insightfulness, his unparalleled attention to detail and his fierce moral conviction but we know that where he is going he can play an even greater role in righting injustice and creating a world in which men, women and children are one day free of being held hostage by accident of birth or political cowardice.”
While Callenders partners, associates and support staff congratulated Hall, he thanked Smith and the firm he called “home of the most prominent human rights litigators in the country.”
“Callenders’ rank is largely due to the leadership of Frederick Smith QC and the work of his litigation team,” said Hall. “I wish to publicly thank him for his great tutelage over the years and his support of my new journey with United Nations High Commission for Refugees. I can say without a doubt that his mentorship and guidance over the years has properly equipped me for this new challenge I am about to face.” That challenge, according to Hall, is especially troubling with growing numbers of displaced persons as a result of extreme poverty and powerful weather events.
“Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. The UNHCR is present in over 125 countries using its expertise to protect and care for the displaced, the stateless,” said Hall who sees a large part of his role as working with and supporting the Bahamas government in developing a legislative framework to handle asylum seekers, refugees and stateless people. He has witnessed what he calls “heart-breaking cases that bring tears to your eyes” of men being cast aside and forgotten in the detention centre for more than 10 years because the government doesn’t know what to do with them. “While a majority of refugees and migrants moving through the islands originate from within the Caribbean, an increasing number of extra-continental individuals are reaching The Bahamas,” he explained. “This makes identifying persons in need of protection- including refugees and stateless persons, as well as victims of human trafficking and other vulnerable groups challenging.”
Born and raised in The Bahamas, Mr. Hall earned an Associate of Arts degree in Law & Criminal Justice in 2009 from The College of The Bahamas (Dean’s List), went on to the University of The West Indies where he graduated with an LLB in Law in 2013. Two years later, he graduated from the Eugene Dupuch Law School with a Certificate of Legal Education along with the Munroe & Associates Award for Best Performance in Trial Advocacy. During college, he was a fierce debater and won two mooting contests. “I look forward to supporting the work of the government in drafting legislation that balances the need for protection with the goals of the nation,” said Hall.