By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
JEAN Rony Jean-Charles, the Bahamas-born man who, according to relatives, went “missing” after three months at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, has been found in a North Haitian slum.
The 35-year-old C V Bethel Senior High School alumnus was tracked down to a small village on the outskirts of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, by The Tribune and his attorney after a social media campaign was launched by relatives who feared he would be forever lost in the poverty-stricken nation.
He told The Tribune he was sent to “hell” by the Bahamas government, and each day since has been a struggle for survival, both physically and mentally.
Mr Jean-Charles was arrested in early September 2017 by immigration officers, and an application of contesting the lawfulness of his detention was filed on November 29.
In an affidavit, his sister Clotilde Jean-Charles’ claimed she took documents proving his birth to the Department of Immigration at the request of officials, only to be repeatedly told that the matter was under investigation.
His application is one of scores of writs filed last year against detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
In December, former Director of Immigration William Pratt told The Tribune that Mr Jean-Charles, whose relatives said he was born and raised in The Bahamas to Haitian parents, was 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.
At the time, Mr Jean-Charles’ relatives said they were unsure whether he was “alive or dead” or was “illegally deported” after not being allowed to speak to him or visit him in nearly three weeks.
On December 19, the Supreme Court gave the government an additional 21 days to produce Mr Jean-Charles and to provide evidence justifying his deportation or be held in contempt of court.
The court imposed deadline would have passed on Friday, January 19 - four days ago.
Mr Jean-Charles’ attorney Fred Smith said: “Now that I have located him in Haiti and he has confirmed that the government illegally expelled him, we will be urging the Supreme Court to order the government under Article 28 of the Constitution to bring him back. And this will be the clarion call of our campaign to redeem the citizenship and rights of the potentially thousands of citizens in waiting who have been unconstitutionally expelled by the Bahamas government.”
Mr Smith continued: “While visiting with him (in Haiti), I was approached by at least five other persons, including a young 12-year-old, all of whom were born in the Bahamas but who had been unlawfully expelled. Jean-Rony’s case will highlight the systemic denial of constitutional and human rights to thousands of Bahamian born citizens-in-waiting.”
Mr Jean-Charles’ discovery follows revelations made by the government before the United Nations last Wednesday concerning draft regulations for the welfare of detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC).
During his national report in Geneva, Switzerland, Attorney General Carl Bethel foreshadowed amendments to the Immigration Act, revealing proposed changes that will limit detention times for persons pending deportation and station a courtroom at the CRDC. Mr Bethel said the government is also considering extending the age limit to apply for a Belonger’s permit in a bid to reduce the risk of statelessness for persons born in the Bahamas to migrant parents.
Read tomorrow’s Tribune for a full account of Mr Jean-Charles’ time at the detention centre and his current experience in Haiti.