Attorney General Carl Bethel and Minister of State for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson were among those seated in a packed court gallery where an immigration enforcement team was in place continuing the custody of detainee Roney Jean Charles. but after a session that lasted just under one hour, Roney Jean Charles walked out of court a free man for now.
Attorney Fred Smith argued that there was no jurisdiction for a stay to be granted, essentially halting a Supreme Court ruling ordering that Roney Jean is granted status. Smith also fumed over not being supplied with the documentation supporting the stay and told the court that that Immigration Minister Brent Symonette asked when Roney Jean would return to The Bahamas so that he could be facilitated by immigration, only for the government to request a stay from the court which resulted in jean being placed back into the custody of immigration this weekend. During the course of the proceedings, the government’s attorney Lauren Klein asked that weekly reporting conditions be imposed on Jean.
Attorney Smith objected to that reasoning that not only had the court already ruled that jean be granted status but that Jean had committed no crime and was not seeking to leave the Bahamas but was fighting to stay. Smith also pointed out that there is no law requiring proof of status and that to impose such conditions would create a prejudice that does not exist in law. Smith then put forth the view that Jean Charles should leave a free man, not be deported and the case adjourned. After a lengthy argument, Attorney Klein then said he was not averse to that. With that, all sides agreed to an expeditious hearing of the case and a thursday 10 am date set to hear the issue of the stay. Outside court Jean and his attorney guardedly celebrated winning what they felt was a small victory in another battle over status.
Doing it with brute force it dehumanized our society so it’s important to deal with it as responsibly as the Attorney General and the respondents dealt with it today i’m very grateful to them for that Attorney General Bethel responded to Jean Rony’s release this way. We fully expected that the question of whether the subject Jean Roney would be remanded in custody we felt that would be a major issue and all things being determined the fact is the question of his detention the question of his removal from the Bahamas that presently before the court of appeal and we don’t feel the need to re-litigate that issue here on an application for a stay. Mr. Smithh made his move and brought him in in time how that was achieved will be dealt with in this proceedings. After the stay is argued the next step, the court of appeal which Bethel anticipates will finally remedy a series of longstanding unanswered queries on immigration status.
Mr. Jean Charles is 35 years old; our constitutionally provides until title mentor or right for persons when they were born here when they reach 18 between the age of 18 and 19 we are in a position that is uncovered by the constitution or the law of the Bahamas and so the decision in this matter will have ramifications it will be an important decision by the court of appeal and is will also more importantly guide the legislature in terms of any changes that may be needed to clarify the law of what happens with persons who remain in the Bahamas after their constitutional entitlement ends without having made an application pursuant to the constitution and as the two sides prepare for that contensous constitutional debate, bethel urged calm on all sides.
I call for every Bahamian and every citizen of our country to exercise restraint as we go through this process it will be emotional in some ways it may be tense in a lot of ways but let us respect each other and work toward creating a better civility in our society.