A High Court justice ruled Tuesday that the government process to appeal a deportation order is constitutional, which could mean businessman Desmond ‘DA’ Alphonso will be deported soon.
Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles issued a written ruling Tuesday dismissing Mr. Alphonso’s application to overturn his deportation order. He had alleged that former Governor David Pearey, who signed the original order, would be biased in considering any appeal of the same order.
Stephen Daniels, Mr. Alphonso’s attorney, said Tuesday that his client, who he claimed has lived in the Virgin Islands since he was 14 months old and has no ties to his native Guyana, would appeal the ruling to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal. But in the meantime the deportation process may continue.
Sian Evans, head of the Governor’s Office declined to comment on the judgment yesterday.
Ms. Hariprashad-Charles ruled Tuesday that Mr. Alphonso’s residency status as an alien means that the governor can make deportation orders “as he sees fit” without having to explain himself.
“Nowhere in the [Immigration and Passport] Act is there any provision to indicate that an alien should be heard or have the right to make representation before the making of the deportation order, or that the governor should give the reasons for his decision,” she wrote.
The territory has the “exclusive right” to determine the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens, who have limited rights under the 2007 Constitution, the judgment stated.
Ms. Hariprashad-Charles also stated that Mr. Daniels produced no evidence that the governor would be biased against his client.
“…Would a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts of this case, come to the conclusion that there was a real possibility that the governor would be biased? The clear answer must be no. The governor has no interest in the outcome of this deportation except to do his job in a fair and impartial manner,” the judgment stated.
Ms. Hariprashad-Charles also noted that Mr. Pearey has since been replaced by Governor Boyd McCleary.
Mr. Alphonso spent more than three years in Her Majesty’s Prison at Balsam Ghut after pleading guilty to the charge of assisting offenders. He admitted to helping Christopher “Marlon” Bailey, Dennis “Soupy” Campbell and Andrew “Ratty” Milton elude police in October 2006. The men were wanted for the murder of Dorcas Rhule.
Mr. Alphonso was later found not guilty of having murdered Mr. Bailey.
Ms. Hariprashad-Charles referenced the conviction for assisting offenders in her judgment.
“… He has committed an offence which carries a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and for which the court opined that ‘it must take a serious view of those who assist murderers.’ He was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Fundamental justice is not breached by deportation. It is the only method of giving practical effect to the termination of an alien’s right to remain in the British Virgin Islands,” Ms. Hariprashad-Charles wrote.
In 2010 the offices of the governor and the deputy governor issued deportation orders for 15 people, although at least one order was later revoked. The deportation orders, which are listed publicly in the Virgin Islands Official Gazette, state that some of the individuals have been convicted of crimes punishable by three or more months in prison, including theft, drug possession and assault.
Under the Immigration Act, non-citizens who have committed crimes punishable by a prison sentence of three months or longer can be deported.