Tuesday, August 13, 2019
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
MORE than a year since a landmark Supreme Court ruling brought him back to the country, Bahamas-born deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles has not yet applied for citizenship.
And while his case has had far-reaching implications for the country’s immigration and citizenship laws, Mr Jean-Charles told The Tribune yesterday he just wants to find work.
“I haven’t been able to hold onto steady job. It’s like a hustle but I’m still happy to be here. Anything they give me to do I can do,” Mr Jean-Charles said.
“Once I can do something to manage myself. I’m struggling, doing odd jobs, but mostly it’s no job,” he continued.
“I had something steady, but ain’t nothing happening right now. I feel bad. If I don’t have nothing to do I just chill, but I have to look for something.”
It is unclear whether his unsuccessful job search is due to the notoriety of his case or if other factors, like job scarcity for unskilled labourers are to blame.
Department of Statistics officials on Friday revealed the nation’s unemployment rate has improved - with a decrease to 9.5 percent.
However officials said vulnerable employment remained basically unchanged since May 2018. Workers in this category are defined as less likely to have formal work arrangements and more likely to lack decent working conditions, and are often categorised by inadequate earnings and benefits. Men still dominate this category.
The 36-year-old has been unable to find steady work since he was uprooted during a routine immigration patrol in the Fire Trail Road area on September 18, 2017. At the time, he was working on a construction site.
Mr Jean-Charles was deported to Haiti some two months later on November 24, 2017, and returned on a now-void Supreme Court order that mandated he be considered for legal status.
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, 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.
Advertisements notifying the public of his intention to apply for citizenship were published in local newspapers in late October 2018.
But the application was never filed, according to his attorney Fred Smith, who told The Tribune he expects it to be filed this week.
His legal team is also working to file its notice of appeal in the Privy Council by August 24.
“(Mr Jean-Charles) feels very awkward going out, he is criticised and people try to shame him,” Mr Smith said.
“He didn’t ask for this notoriety, he was an ordinary person like many thousands of others born in the Bahamas who have committed no crime except the original sin of being born to foreign parents.”
Mr Smith maintained his call for the government to amend the law to grant citizenship at birth to people born in the Bahamas.
“I urge the government in this new (draft) immigration bill, which has a nationality section, to bestow automatically the right to citizenship to every person born in the Bahamas.”
Mr Smith continued: “One piece of legislation in Parliament can stop all of the hassle, indignity, suffering and dysfunctionality which thousands of our brothers and sisters born in the Bahamas like Jean Rony are subjected to.”