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Ag - Jean Rony Case Exposes Id Loophole

Jean Rony Jean-Charles outside court at an earlier appearance.

Jean Rony Jean-Charles outside court at an earlier appearance.

photo

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE case of Bahamas-born Jean Rony Jean-Charles has unearthed a significant and far-reaching legal challenge over the verification of birth certificates, Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed yesterday.

Mr Bethel said the government will not seek to amend existing immigration laws before a determination is made on its appeal of Mr Jean-Charles’s case, as has been suggested by former immigration minister and Progressive Liberal Party Senator Fred Mitchell.

Notwithstanding potential gaps in the law, Mr Bethel said the law provides certain rights, given an individual can prove they are the person named on a birth certificate - a feat he maintains Mr Jean-Charles has not been able to do.

Mr Bethel spoke to media outside Cabinet yesterday morning.

Later in the day, Mr Jean-Charles was not initially able to collect his belongings from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC) because he could not produce any documentation to confirm his identity. The Tribune was told it took three separate attempts before Mr Jean-Charles was allowed to recover his items, which included a cellphone, a small bag of clothes and a printed copy of the court-ordered emergency travel document issued by the government last week to facilitate his return from Haiti.

The document contains an old photo of Mr Jean-Charles, which he previously confirmed was used on a certificate of identity that he held when he was 16 or 17. His personal copy of the document was destroyed by fire in 2016, he said, and had been his only photo ID.

Attorney Fred Smith yesterday characterised the issue as a continued victimisation of his client by the Immigration Department, and a further aggravation of damages. 

“In this particular matter,” Mr Bethel said outside Cabinet, “we feel that the case is very clear but there are several issues that the Court of Appeal opinion when given will be very helpful as we look towards the drafting of laws to cover what is an obvious lacuna (legal term for gap) in the law.

“The law provides certain rights for persons born in the Bahamas provided they can show that they are the person named in the birth certificate,” he continued, “which is a situation that (Mr Jean-Charles) has not quite been able to do. But in any case, where someone is able to show that they have a birth certificate, and to prove by corroborative evidence that they are in fact the person named in that birth certificate, then there is a gap in the law if they have not applied pursuant to the provisions of article 7 of the Constitution.”

Mr Bethel said: “If they have not done so, the law is silent on what their status is, if any, and what right, or entitlement, or legal status, they may either possess at the time, or they may apply for. Certainly once the Court of Appeal has dealt with this particular matter we will factor in the court’s view of how things should occur under the existing law and we will follow that, but we will reserve the right as a sovereign government and a sovereign legislature.”

On Monday, Mr Bethel explained Mr Jean-Charles’ case has placed the government in a position not covered by law or the Constitution, and urged the country to exercise restraint and let the law take its course following his release from custody.

Mr Jean-Charles did not apply for citizenship when he was between the age of 18 and 19, and was deported at age 34 after being held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for some three months.

His attorney filed a habeas corpus application questioning the lawfulness of his detention, but it was later revealed that he had been deported.

In response to a subsequent constitutional motion, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton ordered the government to “immediately” issue a travel document for Mr Jean-Charles to allow him to return from Haiti to the Bahamas at the government’s expense and to grant him legal status no later than 60 days after his return, and upon him making an application.

The government has appealed the Supreme Court ruling, and was granted a temporary emergency stay that led to Mr Jean-Charles’ arrest and detention over the weekend when he returned to the country.

His lawyers have objected to his arrest as a breach of the initial ruling that could not be halted by the stay, as it had already been effected.

The stay application hearing began on Monday, but was adjourned until tomorrow at 10am.

Yesterday, Mr Bethel told reporters: “If we are not satisfied that the present legal situation adequately protects the Bahamian people or adequately addresses in an appropriate manner how persons in that situation ought to be treated and what rights they have, we reserve the right to go back to the legislature and have the legislature affirmatively clarify the position that is what will happen.

“But we will not at this stage,” he added, “seek in any way to affect the matter presently before the Court of Appeal by some retroactive activity. We will see what the court says and we will then respond legislatively if necessary to that determination of the court.”

It is unclear whether the Supreme Court’s ruling has had an impact on the government’s increased enforcement measures.

Based on section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Justice Hilton stated if an individual is apprehended by immigration officers for allegedly committing an offence, that individual cannot be detained for more than 48 hours before being charged and taken before a magistrate.

Yesterday, immigration officers reportedly apprehended Fanel Gassant, who had been recently released with reporting requirements from the CRDC pending the hearing of his habeas corpus application.

Mr Gassant had been in detention at the CRDC since November 29; however, supporting affidavits say he is married to a Bahamian woman and has an outstanding application for a spousal permit.

His lawyer, Crispin Hall, yesterday told The Tribune that he has filed a constitutional action over his apprehension.

Comments

TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrades, as AG Carl Wilshire wrestles through the courts with King's Counsel Freddy, Article 7(1) of the constitution will be exposed as never qualifying pass the sniff legal test before the Privy Council of England - pertaining attaining the age 18 to 19's window of opportunity for entitled making citizenship application and consideration .............. which age limitation requirements have long and widely been breached by the Pindling, Papa Hubert and Christie administrations..... and as soon as this Imperial red state reveals how many citizenship applications have they processed, approved/granted since May 10, 2017 - 'they too' will been seen to also have breached Article 7(1).
You'd think all controversy their AG has focused upon obtaining citizenship that they would rush inform the people about the rumoured 100 citizenship applications they have approved?

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DDK 10 months, 1 week ago

"It is unclear whether the Supreme Court’s ruling has had an impact on the government’s increased enforcement measures." It is also unclear whether this may be the great legal advocate's intent.........

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TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrade DDK, I am looking forward King's Counsel Freddy, calling both former prime ministers Perry Christie and Papa Hubert - as witnesses whose 'firsthand knowledge' evidence is likely to be sufficiently important to influence the outcome to the actual workings practicability Article 7(1) of the constitution.

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Gotoutintime 10 months, 1 week ago

Can someone please answer this question for me---Was Fred Smith born in Haiti??---Was his Mother or Father born in Haiti??----I'm just trying to figure out why Fred is so gun-ho in the support of the Haitian causes to the possible detriment of the Bahamian people!!

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stillwaters 10 months, 1 week ago

Fred and his siblings were born in Haiti to a Bahamian father, who was deported the Bahamas. Mother was from somewhere in the middle east.

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Gotoutintime 10 months, 1 week ago

Thank you Stillwater—-That explains the situation!

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joeblow 10 months, 1 week ago

An emergency meeting of the house with a view to clarifying the law re: citizenship and making it retroactive and setting a statutory limit on compensation would fix this problem, would it not?

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My2centz 10 months, 1 week ago

They also need to outline a process to thoroughly investigate fraudulent birth certificates over the past few decades. This didn't start and end in 2012 http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/j..." rel="nofollow">http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/j... http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/o..." rel="nofollow">http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/o...

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My2centz 10 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Bethel, like his colleagues is also promoting that these individuals have certain rights, provided they can prove who they were born in the Bahamas: what are those? If birthright status or citizenship is not included in the law, it's very clear that they have no status, i.e. illegal. Fix the law to reflect the FNMs position, but until then stop promoting entitlement among Bahamas born Haitians.

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TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

Both Ma Learned Comrades AG Carl Wilshire and King's Counsel Freddy going learn that the Constitution does not distinguish much between the rights of citizens and noncitizens. The Constitution does little more than to grant citizens with the right to vote and hold elected office. For heaven's sakes - under the constitution the governor general can be a noncitizen - notice I use noncitizen - cause what exactly defines who is a foreigner?
See what happens when you're forced remove emotions and speak directly to the Constitution. I'd love hear QC Brian Moree's viewpoints?

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John 10 months, 1 week ago

Fred Smith is a Bahamian. His daddy is Bahamian but his mother was Haitian. At one point the Fred Smith family lived in Haiti but both his parents were rebel rousers and kept getting in clashes with the government of Haiti. His pa was eventually deported back to the Bahamas and brought the family with him . subsequently the, Fred Smith grew into existence in the Bahamas. So no he cannot be (legally) deported to Haiti

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TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

My Brother Comrade John, illegalities sure didn't get in way Imperial red state's arresting and secretly deporting Jean Rony - and his only 'crime' was to walk along public street in search cigarette vendor buy a single legal cigarette... so why not King's counsel Freddy.... shi#, I hope he's not smoker... in fact, back early days Pindling administration - five immigration officers were dispatched and showed up at Freddy's law office in Freeport to check out if he was really a Bahamalander. (No, not made up, ask Loftus Roker}.

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stillwaters 10 months, 1 week ago

How can you be sure it was just one single legal cigarette? Huh? Could it maybe have been two????

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TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrade, on tight budget - I'm told the KC not known be lose his coins.

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stillwaters 10 months, 1 week ago

Yeah......I am bored with all this crazy mess. If his sister got her citizenship because she applied when she should have, then he probably would have gotten his. Give the man the citizenship and let's move on.

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John 10 months, 1 week ago

Several points about the Rony saga:

  1. The Government of the Bahamas should not view the court order to bring Rony back to the Bahamas and grant him status as defeat. If immigration had followed due process and had given Rony a court hearing the matter would never have escalated to this point.
  2. While the law does require persons, like Rony, who are born to parents of illegal immigrants to apply for status, it does not define the status of those who do not apply or even those whose applications are rejected. And the norm is not to deport these people. So then the law must address this.

  3. The law must make the process for those who do apply to be more seamless and less burdensome. In many cases the applicant may not possess the various documents that are required and rather than have secondary measures in place the application comes to a dead standstill. So then you will find many Jean Ronys who are faustrated by the system and chose to remain a person without status until they get caught up in situations like the current one.
    In Rony case he allegedly has school records, a criminal record and other documents to help confirm his identity. 3 Yes there is a big big problem with fake documents in this country. Drivers licenses are probably the biggest offenders. And so there must be a verification process set in place to ensure that brith certificates are for the persons presenting them. In some countries it is no longer to state a child’s sex on a birth certificate in favor of The perverted argument that sex is not determined at birth. So hospitals are now making prints and scans of unique Peet’s of infants (foot prints and retina scans) to assist in the identification. AND. Rony should not allow himself to be used as a pawn in anyone’s fight against the Bahamian government and/or their constant need to feed their oversized ego. The situation he found himself in is unfortunate. But the sooner he can get his status in the country normalized and return to being a private resident, the better it will be for him. That is unless it is his intention to become a part of the political landscape or activist movement in the country.

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joeblow 10 months, 1 week ago

Carl Bethel's statements do not give me any assurances that he is a competent or truthful lawyer. He is trying to create a grey area where there is none! Either the man meets the criterion for citizenship based on the rule of law and article (7) or he does not. If he does not apply the law as it relates to the Immigration Act!

Seems they are afraid to offend their Haitian constituency and would rather sell the country down the river instead!

Personally, I have buyers remorse, big time!

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TalRussell 10 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrade JoeBlow, I've maintain "King's Counsel" Freddy must "unlock the evidence" long contained in the immigration department's files atop Hawkins Hill - on his client Jean Rony? I'd obtain court order secure such files - cause you knows how government files mysteriously does goes missing? You'd have think the immigration minister, AG and Immigration Director would have always had easy reach to the files? That photograph attached Bahamaland Travel Document - came from Hawkins Hill files? Jean Rony was no stranger to Hawkins Hill, nor the Haitian Embassy? Translation - why are the Detention center and Embassy playing the fools?

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DDK 10 months ago

"Seems they are afraid to offend their Haitian constituency and would rather sell the country down the river instead!" Seems "they" have been doing this for decades with the result that the whole issue, like the shanty towns, appears to some to be too hot to handle. Let's hope the current regime has what it takes to deal with the immigration situation. Dr. Minnis has stated that his will be the Government to eliminate the illegal shanty towns, which is, after all, the result of inaction and slack immigration control.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 1 week ago

Make it mandatory that every child born in The Bahamas must not only have a Bahamian issued LEGAL birth certificate but an NIB card with a photo with biometrics ...... this will then become the basis of your national identity card ........... If that is not in place, then the child cannot register for school at age 4 etc. the abuse of JP-issued affidavits must stop.

If the child is not a Bahamian by birth the issued NIB card MUST also show its nationality as determined by our Constitution.

If you havenot been to school, then how can you say that you are a Bahamian at 18???????

We just need to be strict with what we already have in place and stop trying to bend the Constitution or the other laws as they exist.

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killemwitdakno 10 months, 1 week ago

Wouldn't his country's passport with a Bahamian stamp on it been ID?

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sheeprunner12 10 months ago

It is not MANDATORY to have a passport ...... But everyone NEEDS an NIB card ........ to register in school, get a job and get your benefits

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BahamaRed 10 months ago

I'm so tired of this... easy fix

Have the man apply for a Haitian passport to which he is entitled. Then have him apply for legal resident status in The Bahamas.

It's very simple, but no they looking to grant automatic citizenship to a man who obviously diaregarded the law for years. He's friggin 35 so for 17 years he hasn't made any application for legal status in The Bahamas.

I say send his arse back to Haiti and be happy they aren't making you pay for the flight.

This country to slack with immigration... ridiculous

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licks2 10 months ago

The case has been suspended from judge Hilton's court onto the appeal court. . .this one is too hot for the same activist judge. . .who has already "throw" Mr. Rony and his law team under the bus. . .when he said that he can't make the government give him anything. . .including citizenship. . .this is the beginning of the end for them! I saw BAHAMA WATCH page #3 for human rights supporters you fine 8 low levels renegade HR groups. . .some of them we never ever heard about! Did anyone see any of the heavy hitters on HR supporting this mess put on by Mr. Smith? The only one among them is AI. . .but in her statement she is concerned about "abuse of HR by law. . .they suggested that we be careful of that ! If they don't like our constitution. . .tough. . .but our law "STAND IN THEY FACE". . .protected by international law put in place by some of them!! That histrionic paper only "says" to me. . .that "WEEN GAT A HOPE IN HELL TO WIN THIS ONE"! Especially Mr. Smith rants "rule of law" yet rowing about that same rule of law! I never though that I would ever see the day when I would have to give Mr. Georges the "honorable mention". . .his contribution on page # 5 shows common sense position. . .go read the paper.

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