‘Where’s my brother?’


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE family of a 35-year-old man who was picked up by immigration officials in September say they do not know if he is “alive or dead” or has been “illegally deported” after allegedly not being allowed to speak to him or visit him in nearly three weeks.

In an emotional interview, Clotilda Jean-Charles, 36, told The Tribune yesterday that she only wants to know what happened to her brother Jean Rony Jean-Charles but no one at the Detention Centre or the Department of Immigration will give her answers.

Ms Jean-Charles said her brother, who was born and raised in The Bahamas to Haitian parents, was taken into custody by immigration officers during a raid on September 15.

“I have been to the Detention Centre three times and they would not let me see him. They told me I had to go to Hawkins Hill. I went there and the line was so long but I stayed and I even went back and spoke with a man on the third floor who assured us that he would look into it. He gave us his number and we have been calling and calling and we don’t know anything,” Ms Jean-Charles said during an interview outside the Detention Centre.

“The last time anyone spoke with him was about three weeks ago. We don’t know if he is alive or anything. No one is saying anything. They are not giving us access and they are not giving us any information.

“Our concern is this, they deported him to Haiti, number one he has no one to go to and number two, if that is the case we want proof that he was on a flight. We don’t have a problem if they took him there, we want to know when and where if they did, so we can start the process of bringing him back to his birth land, here in the Bahamas. We are not able to confirm whether he is alive or whether he is dead. No one will speak to us and now we are led to believe the worse-case scenario because everyone is acting in a way that is improper. The point remains even if you go to jail for murder you still have a right to counsel and they won’t let the lawyer see him. Our concern as a family is, we want to know if he is alive or if they sent him away so we can make the arrangements we have to. We don’t know. If he was deported, he has our contacts, he would have called someone.”

Attorney Fred Smith, QC, said he had “no idea” when he went to the Detention Centre on Monday to see his client that Mr Jean-Charles was not there. 

“I came to see him yesterday (Monday) and I had no idea that he may or may not have been here,” Mr Smith said.

“Yesterday (Monday) I heard unofficially that he was deported but they need to produce to us a record of that. Where is Jean-Charles? This is not a prison, why can’t I see my client? I wrote the Department of Immigration on Hawkins Hill asking to see him and I got no reply. There is no protocol. I think he has disappeared and that is why they don’t want me to see him. As his family said, if he had been deported he would have called them over the last three weeks. People can’t disappear in the Bahamas anymore and that is what has happened. We want to know where he is.”

On Monday, Mr Smith was physically removed from the Detention Centre after he was blocked from seeing Mr Jean-Charles.

In an interview after the incident, Mr Smith said he went to the Detention Centre at 10am to see his client. On arrival, Mr Smith said he was given the run around after first being told to wait and then instructed to “make an appointment” at the Immigration Department on Hawkins Hill in order to see the detainee.

After exchanging words with immigration officers, Mr Smith was asked to leave the property, and after refusing, he was forcibly removed.

Videos of the altercation went viral on social media.

Yesterday, member of Parliament for Long Island Adrian Gibson said he stands with Mr Smith, because he too was turned away from the Detention Centre and not allowed to see his client last year.

“I was stopped from seeing my client at the Detention Centre last year around this same time,” Mr Gibson, an attorney, said.

“So I stand with Mr Smith. No one should be denied legal counsel whether they are at the prison or the Detention Centre. Everyone, whether Bahamian or illegal, is entitled to have equal access to justice and legal counsel and to be denied that is a breach of the Constitution.”

The Tribune attempted to contact Immigration Director William Pratt, but calls were not returned up to press time.

When contacted on Monday, Immigration Minister Brent Symonette admitted that Mr Jean-Charles was not at the Detention Centre and said an “investigation” is underway.


TalRussell says...

Comrades! Are we no longer proud be Island people? Do we really want all-inclusive resorts and private beaches that resemble Plantations?
What a tangled impeccable mess the two governing political parties have made of our country of islands immigration policies, regulations and laws. So many have been allowed to come and work indefinitely regardless of country of citizenship.....many at no fault of themselves have been allowed be born here which further complicates everything.
The population as of (2016) is listed as being 391,232. The more accurate number for those who can be considered "citizens" of the Bahamaland, is more like 98,475.
Comrades, if only we could elect a government willing to sortout who among us belong to the 98,475 group.... the quicker we can get around to using our limited resources to take better care our own.
Comrades, did we as island people get all carried away when we started pretending that a country of islands, should start calling itself a Nation? We run multi-dollar budgets and carry multi-billion loans like other nations do, when we should start financially acting like the island people we really are.

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:04 p.m. Suggest removal

DDK says...

Amen, Comrade!

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:44 p.m. Suggest removal

OldFort2012 says...

Sorting out who is who is easy. It's called a DNA test. It costs about $50. Only problem is, it would show you came many thousands of miles from here.

Posted 6 December 2017, 1:53 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Hmm, I am starting to think, maybe The Bahamas is heaven.

Posted 6 December 2017, 4:17 p.m. Suggest removal

jusscool says...

Wow! is this really Tal. Or some Comrade Tal Impersonator! Amen .

Posted 6 December 2017, 4:24 p.m. Suggest removal

sealice says...

should of more read first . . .born here. . . his parents committed the illegal act. More reasons that no one cares because it's been happening for so long and it now has to be cleaned up and it's a huge mess that is not going to spread thinner it needs to be cleaned up wiped away

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:28 p.m. Suggest removal

seamphony says...

are you considered extra special super bahamian if you are heartless towards the suffering? this lady is looking for her brother people...

some empathy wouldn't kill you.

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:42 p.m. Suggest removal

jackbnimble says...

"People can’t disappear in the Bahamas anymore and that is what has happened."

This comment is hilarious! Let's not forget that a Haitian sloop pulled up on our shores just a few weeks ago. All 150 -200 persons presumed to have been on board have disappeared. What does he mean "People can't disappear". Please can and people do... the illegals that he so gung-ho to defend are specialist at this.

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:44 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Comrade Jackbnimble, pretty risky business allow 250 'unknown' persons roam your country who will have find a way to survive. They could be carrying contiguous diseases or have murderous criminal records?

Posted 6 December 2017, 12:56 p.m. Suggest removal

jackbnimble says...

Tal, man people can’t disappear in the Bahamas anymore and that is what has happened to the sloop full of illegals. I want to know where DEY IZ!! :-))

Posted 6 December 2017, 1 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

What a peesa backwardness. So called Christian country where people are so heartless.

Posted 6 December 2017, 1:06 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

The should try Florida. Mr Smith's Cuban's dissappeared last year without a trace and magically reappeared in Florida.

Whether he was deported or discharged from the detention center us hard to trace at all. Was he on one of the Bahamas Air flight's since September? Or was he discharged and hightailed it to Florida to further Mr.Smiths cause?

Posted 6 December 2017, 1:09 p.m. Suggest removal

jackbnimble says...

They have posted pictures of Mr. Charles' so-called birth certificate, school ID and graduation certificate all over social media. His name is spelt differently on each and details of his birth and parents names are missing on some of these documents. He obviously went through the school system undocumented and I suspect he never got his papers because his birth certificate is incomplete. I'm guessing that's why he was deported.

Posted 6 December 2017, 1:25 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Illegal or not, please be a human being. Someones family member is missing, from a Government department no less.

Posted 6 December 2017, 4:14 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

People don't just go missing from the DOI. This undocumented individual could have been released and snuck into the US...to have exactly this effect of reflecting negatively on this department. Or could still be in the Bahamas lying low. Either way, the investigation should start with the boat that was intercepted a few days ago en route to Florida with several illegal Haitians on board.

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:50 p.m. Suggest removal

CatIslandBoy says...

What a backward, third-class, banana republic of a country? I have lived in quite a few other countries, over my life-time, and has never seen such unprofessionalism, and lack of decency, from a government department. Whoever heard of an attorney not being allowed to see his client, or not told that his client is no longer detained? What kind of Backwardness is this?

Posted 6 December 2017, 1:59 p.m. Suggest removal

Economist says...

Good and accurate comment. Descendants of Haitians who have been born here ARE just as Bahamian as many of our founding fathers.

Let us not forget that Sir Lyndon and Sir Clement were also first generation Bahamians. Check as to the nationality of Ed Fields father. These individuals are no more Bahamian than the Haitians born in The Bahamas.

Posted 6 December 2017, 3:17 p.m. Suggest removal

DDK says...

It's possible that there is so much outrage because there are just too damned many of them. It wouldn't matter where they came from. If they came from Canada, for example, they would still be over-running our country.

Posted 6 December 2017, 3:44 p.m. Suggest removal

jjosephspo says...


Posted 6 December 2017, 3:49 p.m. Suggest removal

Economist says...

I agree that there are a large number of Bahamians of Haitian decent in The Bahamas. BUT they are here because our Defence Force, Immigration Department and Social Service failed to do their jobs.

The real persons we should try to punish are those who took a pay check and did not do their job, not the first generation Bahamians of Haitian decent.

Posted 6 December 2017, 3:58 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

That is not the point. Illegal or not(whatever that is). Its basic humanity. A person is missing after being in official detention and all you can care about is papers?

Posted 6 December 2017, 4:13 p.m. Suggest removal

John says...

sounds like you need to go back to some of those other countries (at least one) since you have so many issues in the Bahamas and especially with Bahamians..bye bye!

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:55 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

It's a shame that Bahamians who are less travelled than you would take your word for this. My experience in interacting with locals while living or visiting other countries is they share the same view on illegals that Bahamians do. Explore the world outside of your expat community please...that defeats the purpose of traveling. One off mishaps happens from time to time because no system is perfect. Even the U.K. Is currently scrambling to explain the death of a Jamaican detainee.

Posted 7 December 2017, 9:13 a.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Your 2 cents is worth less than a Jamaican Dollar or a Haitian gourde. Until the editor bans me I will comment. I am amazed that 88% of the comments cannot separate the need for so called law and order, as opposed to archaic inhumane treatment.

Posted 7 December 2017, 11:25 a.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

Continue to comment please, I never implied you should not. I occasionally comment on the Observer as well. That's one of the reasons I know that Jamaica is not an example to follow...in any regard.

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:57 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Of course there are common criminals and hustlers who go to your shores to do wrongs, we know that, but there is no criminality without a marketplace, don't forget. No country is all innocent, You must however ask yourself this questions. Why is dirty washed up criminal ridden Jamaica a more attractive proposition for most investors? I ma not comparing, Bahamas is cool, but just asking. So thank God none of us is starving to the extent that we have to load on rickety boats to float upstream to your island.

Posted 7 December 2017, 1:24 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

Is it? Maybe they're bleaching cream manufacturers trying to cut out the middle man. The fact that Jamaicans make up the 2nd largest group of immigrants in the Bahamas, legal and illegal, says they are coming to our islands. And it seems like every other month a group of Jamaican "strippers" are detained by immigration. Things are evidently not that good in Jamaica.

Posted 7 December 2017, 3:16 p.m. Suggest removal

licks2 says...

You are talking foolishness. . .who ever hear that any dang lawyer can just walk off the street and say. . ."I'se that man lawyer". . .no going to the authorities, following no protocols, not following no rule given him by the persons in-charge of the facility he is trying to get in? WHY DO YOU THING THAT MR. SMITH WILL NOT SUE? REMEMBER WHEN HE WENT DOWN ON JAWS BEACH AND "PUSHED" CODE THEM TO SLAP HIM AROUND BY GETTING IN THEIR FACES. . .HE SUED IN A HEART BEAT. . .AND WON!!

Posted 7 December 2017, 1:41 p.m. Suggest removal

Economist says...

I agree that everyone has rights under The Bahamian Constitution and they can't be held and not charged. To hold someone without charging them is false imprisonment and the Government must pay damages if they do that.

Anyone who is held and not charged is entitled to see a lawyer right away.

Posted 6 December 2017, 5:07 p.m. Suggest removal

bogart says...

Jamaica proud stop spitting on Bahamians every opportunity you get. Get a life. You are a disgrace to the many fine Jamaicians who follow the laws of every sovereign nation incliding Jamaica and the Bahamas. Get a life, try inproving Jamaica first, why dont you???

Posted 6 December 2017, 5:23 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

How can I spit on Bahamians, when you don't even know who is a real Bahamian. Human rights for all

Posted 6 December 2017, 5:36 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Furthermore Missa Bogart. I will defend the honor of Jamaicans everywhere. We do not do it by tearing down others. Do not be condescending, you do hate Jamaicans don't you. More power to Mr Smith

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:13 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

Are you kidding? Jamaicans abroad rip apart the countries they flee to without shame. So much so you would believe Jamaica had it together and was not on the threshold of becoming the next Haiti.

Even in school the Jamaican teachers were condescending and constantly compared Jamaica to Bahamas, and not surprisingly we never measured up. Currently I avoid certain discussions with Caribbean expats in the US, namely Jamacians, for this very reason. I will not live in someone else's country, benefit from the backs and racial progress of their ancestors and still view them as beneath me. And even while they sing the praises of Jamaica none are willing to ever return. Only then are they willing to admit that Jamaica is as backward as it seems.

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:33 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Whatever. I am sure the Jamaican teachers stoop up simply because they refused to be abused as you do the Haitians. Most of these teachers you talk about were recruited, they didn't apply. I know what I am talking about.

In case you want to know, I have nothing against Bahamians, but you must stop this your national sport, of abusing outsiders. A sense of misplaced superiority. Anyway, I don't blame you, I blame the people who put themselves in a position to be abused. As for the so-called next Haiti, I guarantee you the Bahamas will have that distinction as most Bahamians including you are descendants of them anyway.

Posted 6 December 2017, 7:03 p.m. Suggest removal

My2cents says...

Jamaicans and Haitians do not coexist...they act superior to them as they do everyone else. I know too many to believe your delusions but it's typical. Whether the teachers were recruited, or not, they still fled to the Bahamas because the opportunity was better than in the near failed country of Jamaica. With the direction the country is heading we might meet Jamaica in Failure Land, I can admit that, but you would have been there decades before...it's almost there now.

Posted 6 December 2017, 7:25 p.m. Suggest removal

licks2 says...


Posted 7 December 2017, 1:43 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

HaHa, our country is mashed up, no one wants to move to Jamaica.

Posted 7 December 2017, 5:01 p.m. Suggest removal

bogart says...

A tru tru Bahamian or as you say real Bahamian is no different from a real Jamaican, who has respect for all people, follows the laws of the whichever sovereign state they are in and participates in nation building through respect for others and does not promote or ferment criminal behaviour. Your comments denigrste my beloved Bahamaland and citizens. Appropriate comment from a former Bahamian Prime Minister with Jamaican roots would be to 'cut bait and if you cant, learn to fish, and if yinna cant fish then get the hell out da boat.' Respect.

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:34 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

Big up myself boss. No worries. Remember Pindling wrote a constitution that if he were birn after 1973 would have made him an ilkegal immigrant or non Bahamian. Some even argue he was born in Jamaica. Either way, he is the architect of the confusion that creates the phenomenon on your lovely islands. God bless the Bahamas, but please show compassion for this missing man

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:15 a.m. Suggest removal

licks2 says...


Posted 7 December 2017, 1:50 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

It is humorous that a Jamaican would even take the time to comment on a Bahamian newspaper blog ...... I guess we have to return the favour and comment on The Gleaner ......... BOL

Posted 6 December 2017, 6:53 p.m. Suggest removal

jamaicaproud says...

You are very welcome, to do that. One thing you wont find in the Gleaner or the observer is a concept called, "Jamaicanization". We are confident in who we are. I try to keep up to date with all my CARICOM peoples. Aren't you a CARICOM citizen? So we do have something in common.

Posted 6 December 2017, 7:05 p.m. Suggest removal

TheMadHatter says...

I was told by someone "in the know" that the Bahamas historically used to be a part of Haiti.

We were the northern Haitian territories. Some "uppity" Bahamians, back in the day, chased many of them out and also engaged in a breeding war having many children. I do remember growing up hearing about my grandmother and great grandmother and others in the communities in those days having many children

So what has been happening over the past 4 decades is simply Haitians reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. Those who know history and understand the law are aware of this...i was told...such as police officers - for example - and that is the reason why the cars driving around with Haitian flags (contrary to the flag law) are never booked and fined. The officers have likely been told that such a fine would be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court which after the facts came out would rule in the driver's favour. Additionally this would open a can of worms whereby our true sovereignty would be revealed and the Bahamian flag would be ordered to be lowered at Government House.

The maintenance of this secret has consumed much time and resources. But i was told the truth will be revealed after the arrests begin in January. These are terrible times.

Posted 6 December 2017, 7:56 p.m. Suggest removal

yari says...

I have never heard of a case of the Bahamas deporting a Bahamian to another country. If the story doesn't make sense it most likely is a lie. A Bahamian would have been able to prove his citizenship already. Fred's carefully choreographed and recorded dramatics don't sway me either. People who have legal status can have it revoked if they commit a crime for example -even citizenship can be revoked. I suspect we haven't heard the whole story but I suspect Mr Charles never bothered to regularize his status.

Posted 6 December 2017, 11:34 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

Every person born to a legal Haitian has a status ........ they are Haitian.
Every person born to a legal Bahamian has a status ....... they are Bahamian.
Red Fred tries to make apples, oranges ......... hence his pseudo-drama.

Posted 7 December 2017, 12:56 a.m. Suggest removal

seamphony says...

By shutting the door on the face of these immigrants, we may be shutting the door on the face of the next brain surgeon, engineer, architect, writer, dancer, basketball player that will elevate the whole bahamas. by refusing the immigrants' kids proper status and leaving them in limbo all their childhood and adult lives, we are the ones cutting down the growth prospects of these islands. Fix the public schools for both the bahamian kids and all others for god's sake! Show them that doing good in school/hard work is the way not playing numbers, finding a hotel job, getting handouts from the government, or robbing someone.

Posted 7 December 2017, 9:22 a.m. Suggest removal

Islangal1 says...

I agree with you 100%. Look at the world around you people, the best minds are from immigrants and their offspring. Bahamians built S Florida, if it wasn't for the Irish and Italians there would be no police force in America. Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans, Bahamians, Cubans, Russians have changed the landscape of IT, Medicines and Education in America and UK. Shit America has a president who's bloodline is German and Scottish!! He may not have been the best choice but you get my message here.

A country WITHOUT immigration will never progress. The solution to this problem is simple. Retroactively process ALL foreigners in the Bahamas, grant citizenship, residency, something! To kids born in The Bahamas. Lest not forget, how many Bahamian run abroad to have babies in America and Canadian.

All we care about are investors, investors. Baha Mar is the white elephant that should've open the eyes of The Bahamian people about how quickly Foreign investments can go south, at the rising cost of doing Business in The Bahamas it will become more and more difficult to attract the. Fix the immigration systems and lets get some fresh minds working in this country for this country or will soon end up in the deep end without a life boat.

Posted 8 December 2017, 8:59 a.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Comrades! Isn't it time we decide who is 'WE' and who is not?
How can you trust any government to guarantee the issuance work permits to thousands Expats within (14) days - when if willing except that there are no more than 98,475 provable Bahamaland citizens.... then how in hell did the government allow 181,543 persons to register to vote in the May 10, 2017 general elections, Challenge your government to prove 181,543 persons were of Bahamalander citizenship? They CAN'T. Its a LIE!
Let's have a conversation about a immigration and citizenship minister who himself publicly pointed for the media cameras to the stack applications on his office floor that were so messed up that he was going to just approve them without further processing? {This is not made up}.

Posted 7 December 2017, 9:34 a.m. Suggest removal

bogart says...

Good point TalRussell. Stacks of papers from the previous Members Opposite who could refer it back to the current Members Opposite, who could refer it back..etc
The big question on the current illegal immigration matters December deadline or on current matters and policies of the govt is where is the Haitian AMBASSADOR on all this as a Representative of his nationals??

Posted 7 December 2017, 3:26 p.m. Suggest removal

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