Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018
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Jean-Charles seeks leave to take case to Privy Council

Jean-Rony Jean-Charles.

Jean Rony Jean-Charles, the man at the center of a battle for constitutional rights, yesterday sought leave to appeal to the Privy Council after the Court of Appeal set aside a Supreme Court ruling that ordered he be given residency.

Attorneys for Jean-Charles said the Court of Appeal was wrong to allow the appeal on several grounds.

Last month, the Court of Appeal quashed a decision by Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton, who ordered that immigration officials grant Jean-Charles residency.

Hilton also ruled that Jean-Charles’ constitutional rights were breached due to the absence of due process in his deportation.

Attorney General Carl Bethel, former Director of Immigration William Pratt, Officer in Charge of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre Peter Joseph and Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel are listed as the appellants.

Jean-Charles, who claims he was born in The Bahamas and is of Haitian descent, was arrested by immigration officers last year, detained and later deported to Haiti.

Hilton had ordered that Jean-Charles be returned to The Bahamas and be granted status to remain in the country. The government complied with the order and later appealed it.

In his affidavit of support for the motion, attorney Crispin Hall said the Court of Appeal erred in concluding that Hilton was not entitled to consider Jean-Charles’ motion for constitutional relief.

“The Court of Appeal was wrong to allow the appeal on the basis that it was unknown at the time that the constitutional application was determined, whether the respondent was the person whose detention and deportation was referred to in the return to the writ,” Hall said.

“On the true reading of his judgment, the judge held on the balance of probabilities that they were the same person.

“Alternatively, the issue of the respondent’s identity was, or should have been, resolved on appeal, including by virtue of the concession in that regard made by the appellants.”

Hall further argued that “the only ground of appeal was that the respondent had alternative means of redress available to him and should have exhausted them first”.

Hall also said that there was “evidence before the Court of Appeal that the appellants well knew who the respondent was, because they issued a travel document for him to reenter into The Bahamas from the papers, files and records in the possession of the appellants”.

He contended that Jean-Charles’ identity was not a ground for appeal and was not an issue during the hearing of the appeal.

In the Court of Appeal’s ruling, Sir Michael Barnett pointed to the affidavit of Clotilde Charles, Jean-Charles’ sister, noting that it failed to satisfy the law.

Sir Michael also said that Hilton wrongly decided to treat Jean-Charles as an alias after making the following statement: “In the absence of the actual person who was flown to Haiti on 24 November 2017 on the direction of immigration authorities, there can be no conclusive answer or determination on the question [of identity].”

Sir Michael said, “In my judgment, as the identity of the applicant was in the mind of the judge still an unresolved issue, the court ought not to have entertained any application for constitutional, or any other relief, until that issue had been resolved.”

Sir Michael also ruled that once the writ of habeas corpus was brought to an end, the court ought not have considered any other applications arising out of the detention of Jean-Charles.

 

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