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7331: HAITIAN OFFICER WINS RIGHT TO COURT HEARING (fwd)
From: Jean Jean-Pierre <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Copyright 2001 Sun-Sentinel Company
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
March 10, 2001, Saturday, South Broward EDITION
By: DAVID CAZARES MIAMI BUREAU
A former police captain under a Haitian dictatorship, arrested last year
as part of an INS sweep of human rights abusers, has won the right to a
hearing that could keep him from being deported.
Jackson Joanis, 42, was ordered deported by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service in November because in 1995 he was convicted in
absentia in Haiti for the murder of businessman Antoine Izmery, an
ardent supporter of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Joanis'
detention seemed to erase any chance that he would successfully overcome
a Miami immigration judge's decision in August 1999 to deport him
because he had missed an immigration hearing when he was
On Monday, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Joanis' request that
it rescind the deportation order and grant him another immigration
hearing. But the board said he should have the right to seek to remain
in the United States under the international Convention Against Torture
that the United States signed six years ago. The convention, which can
keep people from being deported if they are
likely to be tortured, would theoretically allow Joanis to stay here
because of a loophole that does not require individuals to be
disqualified for past crimes.
Joanis came to South Florida in 1994 on a tourist visa. He lived in
Hollywood and worked for awhile as a cab driver before switching to his
cousin's construction business.
Carlo-Jean Joseph, who described himself as Joanis' former attorney,
said Joanis fears he would be imprisoned, tortured and perhaps killed if
sent back to Haiti. He also said Joanis' conviction in Haiti was unfair
because he was not present to defend himself.
"It was a sham trial that took 10 or 15 minutes," Joseph said. "There
was no evidence that was presented. He was not aware of the crime and no
people under his command committed this crime."
INS spokeswoman Patricia Mancha said she could not comment on the case.
But INS officials have said they acted properly and intend to deport
Joanis, who is now in the Manatee County Jail in Bradenton, as soon as
the immigration court issues final orders.
Under a controversial 1996 immigration reform law, the INS has deported
thousands of immigrants with histories of minor convictions. But the
United States' signature on the international convention may prevent the
agency from deporting torturers.
That bothers human rights advocates, who say they would at least like to
see people like Joanis tried in the United States.
"I think it's certainly very ironic that someone who's been convicted of
human rights violations is fearing torture," said Merrie Archer,
associate director for programs and development at the National
Coalition for Haitian Rights in New York. "There's certainly nothing to
suggest that the government in place would be the perpetrator of that