By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS-born deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles has filed his appeal to the Privy Council, arguing to the country’s top court that his constitutional rights were breached notwithstanding purported procedural issues.
Mr Jean-Charles is challenging the Court of Appeal’s revocation of a landmark decision concerning his controversial detention and removal from The Bahamas in 2017.
The notice of appeal was served on the government on Friday.
It represents the final fight in Mr Jean-Charles’ legal battles concerning his expulsion from The Bahamas to Haiti on November 24, 2017, after being detained from September 17 of that year, and Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton’s subsequent landmark ruling that both his detention and expulsion were unlawful.
At the time, Justice Hilton further found that Mr Jean-Charles was deprived of his personal liberty, unlawfully arrested and detained/falsely imprisoned in breach of his rights guaranteed him under the constitution.
The matter originated as a writ of habeas corpus, which Justice Hilton later dismissed after it was found Mr Jean-Charles was not in the custody of the state at the time the application for the writ was made.
The Court of Appeal set aside the Supreme Court ruling, and in their written ruling, Sir Michael Barnett, with fellow Court of Appeal justices Jon Isaacs, and Hartman Longley, ruled that Mr Jean-Charles’ application for constitutional relief should have been brought separately after the writ of habeas corpus was dismissed. In failing to do so, the Court of Appeal concluded the government had been deprived of a fair hearing on the constitutional application.
The appellate justices further stated there could be no finding of a constitutional breach as it related to Mr Jean-Charles’ detention and deportation, due to lack of certainty over his identity.
There was much debate during the appeal over the discrepancy surrounding whether the individual immigration authorities said they deported — Jean Charles, and Mr Jean-Charles – are one and the same.
However, in his latest appeal, lawyers for Mr Jean-Charles argue the government did not raise an objection of the hearing of the constitutional objection, nor did they seek an adjournment to bring further evidence of submissions.
Mr Jean-Charles also contends the issue over his identity is a red herring as none of Justice Hilton’s findings of fact were appealed.
It is further noted that the government issued Mr Jean-Charles a travel document, and conceded before the Court of Appeal that the person they returned was the same persons they had deported.
“Their contention on appeal (for which there was no basis) was that there was residual uncertainty about the true name of this person, not that the appellant was not the person whose arrest, detention and expulsion are described in the return,” the appeal read.
“The appellant respectfully contends that the Court of Appeal should not have set aside the judge’s order. The Court of Appeal erred in failing to consider whether the defects that it identified in the judge’s approach could be cured on appeal, including by means of variation of the judge’s order.
“In the alternative, if (contrary to the foregoing grounds of appeal) the Judicial Committee considers that there were defects in the judge’s approach to the constitutional application, then the committee is respectfully invited to vary the judge’s order so as to correct those defects.
“In further alternative, the Judicial Committee is respectfully invited to remit the matter for retrial,” it added.
Mr Jean-Charles is represented by Fred Smith QC, of Callenders & Co, and Adrian De Froment of Serle Court Chambers.