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Jean Rony ‘Lost Automatic Right To Citizenship'

Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette.

Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette.

photo

Jean Rony Jean-Charles

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

IMMIGRATION Minister Brent Symonette, right, has hit out at “sensationalised” reports about Bahamas-born deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles, left, saying commentary on the matter seems to have missed the fact that not every person born in The Bahamas is an automatic citizen.

Mr Symonette also said as of Monday, Mr Jean-Charles had no application before the Department of Immigration for citizenship.

He was asked if he had any concerns over a recent Supreme Court ruling on the government’s stay application in the high-profile matter of Mr Jean-Charles.

The St Anne’s MP said media and public discourse surrounding the ordeal has suggested that any person born in the Bahamas gains the automatic right to Bahamian citizenship, once they apply, however he strongly refuted this.

“We have to stop sensationalising the issue,” Mr Symonette said. “I think you asked me this morning about Bahamas-born; Bahamas-born has a very technical meaning.

“For me,” he said, “it is very simple, I am Bahamian. My parents were Bahamian. I was born in the Bahamas to Bahamian parents. I am entitled at birth to a Bahamian passport.

“Just because people are born in the Bahamas does not make them Bahamian. And you continue to comment, you made the point this morning, ‘Bahamas-born.’ 

“Unless you have applied for a citizenship or permanent residency, under the law, the mere fact of being born in the Bahamas does not make you Bahamian, nor does it give you an automatic entitlement to stay in the Bahamas.”

Mr Symonette added: “I hope we can clear this matter up once and for all, and stop the repetition that the press has made and ministers and Fred Smith about Bahamas-born.

“It is very clear, you have to be born here of parents who are not Bahamian, you have the right to apply.

“The government does not have to give you, nor is it legally bound to give you, according to a ruling in the Privy Council, the D’arcy Ryan (ruling), citizenship.

“So we (don’t) have to keep repeating this issue, Bahamas-born (does not give) them the same right as someone like myself who is born to Bahamian parents in the Bahamas,” he said.

Mr Symonette said the narrative being presented by those working on behalf of Mr Jean-Charles omits that he failed to apply for legal status between his 18th and 19th birthday, as mandated by law.

He said that failure, despite the personal feelings of those involved, negated all automatic constitutional rights Mr Jean-Charles had to apply for legal status in the Bahamas.

“So I think we have to be very careful as you keep repeating the utterances that you do, that you qualify if that in Mr Rony-Jean’s case not every comment is the same, there is no application before immigration as of yesterday, that I am aware of, for anything to do with him,” Mr Symonette told reporters gathered outside the Churchill Building yesterday.

“So let’s try and put some balance and not sensationalise the case. So he has lost automatic constitutional right to apply because he did not apply between 18 and 19.

“He has lost his right, full stop.

“There is a discretionary right for the Bahamas government to consider, but not an automatic constitutional right.

“So I hope I’ve cleared that issue up,” Mr Symonette concluded.

In court last Friday, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton granted a partial stay of his landmark ruling in the case of Mr Jean-Charles, releasing the government from his order to grant the Bahamas-born man status pending its appeal of his judgment.

He also ordered that Mr Jean-Charles was not to be arrested, detained or expelled, and be allowed to support himself until the appeals have been determined. 

The government sought a full stay of Justice Hilton’s ruling, in which the judge ordered the government to immediately issue a travel document to allow Mr Jean-Charles to return from Haiti to the Bahamas, and be reimbursed for that cost by the government; and to grant him “such status” that would “permit him to remain in the Bahamas and to legally seek gainful employment” no later than 60 days after his return. 

Justice Hilton initially found that Mr Jean-Charles was “unlawfully expelled” from the Bahamas after having been detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre from September 18 to November 24, 2017 in breach of his rights guaranteed under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Comments

John 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Mr. Symnonette is being disengenous. Misleading even. While the law does require persons born in the Bahamas to Non-Bahamian parents, it does not address the consequences of persons who did not apply. And while their right to citizenship may not be automatic, the law does not preclude them from citizenship if they do not apply. Neither does it address the status of persons, like Rony, who finds himself 35 years old and, according to Symonette, did not apply. But the law does not require them to be deported and so that is why the judge has ordered Rony be returned, not deported again and granted status. And the common opinion is that the Department helped create the problem by making the process of applying so difficult and burdensome. So moving forward, besides cleaning up the mess with the huge numbers of persons who find them in a position, like Rony government must now move to make the process less complicated and more counterfeit proof. One thing to do maybe is to start a file with persons born in the country and may wish to stay in the country. Besides registering st birth, they must also register with the Department of Immigration at the age of 5 and update their files every 5 years, showing that they are in school and/or still in the country. Those who have completed files at the age of 18 will go on to get their documents seamlessly and those who don’t will have to fill in the missing information. Then one will argue that illegal parents are not going in to Immigration to register their children. Well maybe they will have to utilize the school system or the health care system where documents are completed along with photos and forwarded to the immigration department. In the case of Rony, it is good his case came to light so that the system could be tested and fixed. But there has to be some middle ground between him being awarded $1 million and getting status in this country. He must be careful not to let an attorney with an over inflated ego and blood in his eyes jeopardize what he wants the most.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 4 weeks ago

And we all know how those in any way connected to the corrupt web shops run by the racketeering numbers bosses like Bastian and Flowers just love illegal immigrants that patronize their gaming establishments. Like you for instance.

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My2centz 6 months, 4 weeks ago

The law does not have to specifically address the consequences of living undocumented and therefore, illegally in a country that does not offer birthright status. This excerpt from a letter to the editor of the Nassau Guardian makes this point very clear for those who intentionally misinterpret the law.

"Example 1: A restaurant sign indicates that its dinner service is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Therefore, if a patron comes at 5 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., they will not be served, because the restaurant is not open for service. In this case the restaurant clearly indicated its dinner service hours, and patrons coming outside of that time cannot reasonably expect to be served. Note that the sign did not indicate that dinner is not served at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. or 11 p.m. (non-permissible); it stated the times that dinner is served (permissible). Therefore, customers understand that if they want to eat dinner at that restaurant, they must come between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. It was not necessary for the restaurant to indicate the non-dinner hours because the customers clearly understood what the dinner service hours were. This is efficient, complete (no gap) and there is absolutely no ambiguity."

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stillwaters 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I wonder why he didn't come out with this from the beginning of the Jean- Rony AKA Jean-Charles saga. Why wait until it got to boiling point?

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Emac 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Exactly! But I truly believe that Mr. Symonette didnt realize the large number of Bahamians that were concerned about this matter. Thank God for social media!

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DDK 6 months, 4 weeks ago

FINALLY! Thank you, Mr. Symonette!

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jackbnimble 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I was beginning to wonder where his head was at. First he says as far a he's aware, persons born in the Bahamas are not "normally deported". Then he says they are putting procedures in place to facilitate the applications for citizenship as too many persons are in limbo who should be here. Now he comes back like he's refuting Rony's so-called right to citizenship or right to apply again. I think he only responded because of the public furor. This man and his Government come across are being very foreign-friendly.

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BahamaRed 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Fact is the man has no constitutional rights in The Bahamas. Point blank period... and the constitution unfourtunately does not provide for persons in his position, persons who are outside the legal window of application.

At this point I say give the man status, and get the constitution amended to deal with these kinds of situations.

Let this be a learning platform and quickly fix all immigration loopholes such as this one.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Too many Bahamians want the Bahamas to become a second Haiti. It's a losing battle. Govt may as well station a passport printer at the Defense Force base and give them passports as they get off the boat.

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John 6 months, 4 weeks ago

@ mudda-tak-sic: since me and your mother came over on the same boat that’s how you so sure I am illegal. But I bet no on checked or cared that the two hookers that ripped of their ‘John’ on Paradise Island had a work permit or immigration status for that matter. So go play with your kind.

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John 6 months, 4 weeks ago

PS Sébas (and Flowers) has done in a decade, legally what you mudda-tak -sic what you will not accomplish in your lifetime. So you despise them to the grave and beyond. We understand.

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John 6 months, 4 weeks ago

At least it’s more clear now who the US State Department was referencing when they cautioned guests about allowing people in their hotel rooms.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I am with Mr:Symonette on this one.

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John 6 months, 4 weeks ago

So has Adrian Gibson been kicked off the air waves and fired from ZNS? Who next

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hrysippus 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Birdie, What? What? You do know Mr. Symonette is a member of the FNM, don't you?

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OldFort2012 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I heard a rumour that he was white too.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 4 weeks ago

It may very well be my first and last time. But I gave right where right is and wrong where wrong is I can not help myself it is automatic.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 4 weeks ago

This fella is a born Haitian ............ why is our Government wasting time trying to facilitate these ungrateful and devious people anyway????????? ........... Brent needs to put pressure on the Haitian Embassy in Nassau to get their people registered when they born or get work permits or get caught by Immigration ........ Haiti needs to step up and take responsibility for their citizens as provided for in its Constitution .......... We have enough of our own problems to deal with besides at least another 25,000 grown-ass Haitian citizen dodgers.

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hallmark 6 months, 4 weeks ago

@sheeprunner. I am with you. Why do we have to expend so much energy on these illegals, when their country is right next door and they have an embassy right here? What are they doing? What is their part in the process?

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OldFort2012 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I am sorry Mr. Symonette, but what you say just cannot be right in Law.

Someone born here LEGALLY, to parents with LEGAL status can apply for citizenship between 18th and 19th birthday. Then the government has a DISCRETIONARY right to grant the application. That is clear.

Someone born here ILLEGALLY to ILLEGAL immigrants with no status cannot have any rights whatsoever. To reside, work, be schooled. NO RIGHTS whatsoever. Can he apply for things like citizenship? Sure. But Immigration has just as much right to deport him on sight.

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DDK 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Was this not the gist of Mr. Symonette's remarks, if not quite so emphatically stated? Your statements are crystal clear!

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OldFort2012 6 months, 4 weeks ago

No. Here is his quote: "He has lost his right, full stop."

You cannot lose a right you never had. He has no "right" to apply for citizenship. He can apply, just like I can apply to NASA to be an astronaut. Since he has no right, the Government has no DUTY to consider his application.

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SP 6 months, 4 weeks ago

As humanitarians and our brother's keeper, we must do all possible to ensure Mr. Jean Rony Jean-Charles, his parents, siblings and all like them are returned to the country of their allegiance so they can fly their Haitian flags with dignity and great respect while celebrating Haitian flag day on May 18th in their beloved capital!

GOD'S speed to them all. May they never return to the Bahamas.

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