By Rashad Rolle
INTERNATIONAL human rights group Amnesty International issued an appeal for “urgent action” on behalf of Jean Rony Jean-Charles, a client of attorney Fred Smith, QC, whose whereabouts became a subject of concern and attention last week.
Meanwhile, advocacy group Rights Bahamas and relatives of Mr Jean-Charles held a prayer vigil yesterday, praying for his safe return to The Bahamas.
Noting Mr Jean-Charles had been detained for “more than three months,” Amnesty said in a statement on Friday: “The organisation is concerned that Jean Rony Jean-Charles’ whereabouts remain unknown and his lawyer has been denied access to the Detention Centre where he was being held.
“Bahamian authorities later informed that he was ‘deported’ to Haiti. Based on the information available to Amnesty International, Jean Rony Jean-Charles is either in incommunicado detention, itself a form of ill-treatment, and at risk of arbitrary expulsion, or has been expelled to a third country and is therefore at risk of statelessness,” the statement continued.
“We urge the Bahamian authorities to immediately grant Jean Rony Jean-Charles unrestricted access to his lawyer, and to provide his family with immediate information about his whereabouts.”
The Supreme Court last week gave the government until December 19 to produce Mr Jean-Charles and provide evidence justifying his detention or be held in contempt of court.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Smith said no one in The Bahamas should just “disappear” and the family of Mr Jean-Charles needs to know “where he is and if he is alive”.
“So essentially the government has been ordered to produce the body of the person in custody, which is Mr Jean-Charles, and they have to justify the detention or release him,” Mr Smith said.
“So two things have to happen, they are required to bring Mr Jean-Charles and prove they had the right to hold him. If they do not comply with the writ they have to explain to the court with evidence what has happened to him.”
Last Wednesday, Director of Immigration William Pratt told The Tribune Mr Jean Charles has been flown to Haiti. Mr Pratt said Mr Jean-Charles was sent to Port au Prince, Haiti on November 24 after not being able to prove he was in the country legally.
However, representatives from the Haitian Embassy told The Tribune they have no record of Mr Jean-Charles being repatriated.