Monday, Dec 10, 2018
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Jean-Charles granted leave to appeal to Privy Council

Jean Rony Jean-Charles outside the Court of Appeal yesterday. Ahvia J. Campbell

The Court of Appeal yesterday granted Jean Rony Jean-Charles, the man at the center of a battle for constitutional rights, leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

The decision came after the government sought an order from the court to block the appeal.

Last month, Jean-Charles sought leave to appeal to the Privy Council after the Court of Appeal set aside a Supreme Court ruling that ordered he be returned to The Bahamas after being deported and given residency status by the government.

In its skeleton arguments filed on Monday, the Office of the Attorney General said, “…The appellants respectfully invite the court to find that the case which the respondent is seeking to appeal from this court does not raise genuinely disputable issues…

“If the court is inclined to this view, the appellants further submit that the proposed grounds of appeal are without merit, as they are directed to eminently procedural matters or raise issues which do not require any review or clarification by the Privy Council, and the court should not exercise its discretion in any event to grant leave.”

Attorney General Carl Bethel, Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette, 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 in the action.

Jean-Charles is listed as the respondent.

But the Court of Appeal ultimately ruled that Jean-Charles has a right to appeal.

Fred Smith, QC, Jean-Charles’ attorney, said yesterday that he will continue to fight for Jean-Charles’ rights.

“We are very pleased to say that we got permission from the Court of Appeal to appeal Jean Rony’s case to the Privy Council,” Smith said outside the Court of Appeal.

“As the president [of the Court of Appeal] said, this is a matter of great public importance.

“I think it’s going to be good for the development of jurisprudence in The Bahamas for the Privy Council to have an opportunity to consider the issues.

“The case is not as simple, we think, as it was first made out to be.”

Smith added, “I hope that the Privy Council will deal with substance over form and that we can deal with the real issues, which Justice Hilton in the Supreme Court dealt with.

“It’s time for us to understand that we are dealing with flesh and blood human beings whose lives are being affected.”

In October, the Court of Appeal quashed a decision by Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton, who ordered that immigration officials grant Jean-Charles work and residency status within 60 days.

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

The government complied with the order and later appealed it.

The Court of Appeal ruled that once Jean-Charles’ writ of habeas corpus was brought to an end, Hilton ought not have considered any other applications arising out of the detention of Jean-Charles.

The Court of Appeal concluded that Hilton was not entitled to consider Jean-Charles’ motion for constitutional relief.

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.

 

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