COURT OF APPEAL RESERVES JEAN RONY DECISION
Nassau – The Court of Appeal on Friday reserved judgement in the case of Jean Rony Jean-Charles, a stateless man who was born to Haitian parents in The Bahamas.
The bench, comprised of President Sir Hartman Longley and Justices of Appeal Jon Isaacs and Sir Michael Barnett (acting), will deliver a decision at a date to be announced.
In a controversial ruling earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton ordered Jean-Charles’ return to the country following his deportation to Haiti and directed authorities to grant him work and residency status within 60 days of his return.
The Crown appealed on the basis that Hilton based his ruling on inadmissible evidence and over-reached his authority by directing the state to grant Jean-Charles legal status and the identity of the applicant had not been determined conclusively.
The deportee’s legal team, headed by Queen’s Counsel Fred Smith, filed a writ of habeas corpus to compel immigration authorities to produce the body of Jean-Charles.
Hilton dismissed the writ of habeas corpus, as no person by that name was in the custody of the immigration department when the application was heard.
However, the judge used the information contained in the affidavits in support of the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus to consider whether Jean-Charles’ constitutional rights had been breached.
Prosecutor Loren Klein contends that the judge was not entitled to consider this evidence during the constitutional motion.
Notably, Klein said that the judge had made no “conclusive finding on the identity” of the individual before the court.
When Smith’s team applied for a writ of habeas corpus, the applicant was named as Jean Charles, who had a different date of birth than the one provided by Jean Rony, the name provided by the man who immigration officers detained last September and who was subsequently deported.
Smith contends that the names refer to the same person.
Smith told the panel yesterday that it should not consider where Jean-Charles had a right to citizenship, as it was “too important to decide without evidence and a trial”.
Smith said that many others are in the same position as Jean-Charles, allegedly Bahamian-born, but who had failed to apply for citizenship.
Smith said, “he is neither a citizen in waiting and neither is he a non-citizen. If he never leaves The Bahamas, he is entitled to be here and the entire Immigration Act does not apply to him.”
Smith argued that the judge’s status had not been made on the basis of Jean-Charles’ immigration status.