THE DEPORTATION of a British citizen has been stayed as her lawyers prepare to make an application before the court on July 20.
In the meantime, Juanita Headley has been released into the care of counsels Jomo Thomas and Maia Eustace. This does not mean that she has to stay with them, but rather that they have committed to ensuring that Headley appears in court on July 20.
Headley gained the assistance of these two counsels after she was taken to the Serious Offences Court(SOC) on Thursday, June 17, and a removal order was made against her, at the application of Immigration officials who cited section 22 of the Immigration (Restriction) Act. The officials had made this application because they submitted that she was deemed a prohibited immigrant within the meaning of section 4(1)(A) of the Act.
On this date, Headley vehemently argued for a lawyer to represent her and also stated that she hadn’t been given a reason for being denied permission to continue staying in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). However, she also mentioned that she was told that nine months was too long for a holiday and submitted that persons believe her to be a human trafficker, which she denied. Headley classifies herself as an anti-human trafficking advocate and author. During her stay, which began in August 2020, she has been documented at several speaking engagements relating to abuse and human trafficking, on mainland, St Vincent, and in the Grenadines.
Counsel Thomas spoke about his reasoning for coming to Headley’s assistance after this court appearance.
If the content of media reports are to be believed in terms of what was claimed by his client on this date, Thomas said he felt disgusted by the way Headley said she was treated, namely, that she was taken to court without being given a chance to shower, and in what appeared to be nightwear.
Further, “when she got to court she invoked her right to be represented by counsel and she named counsel (Thomas and Eustace) and the magistrate went ahead…” Thomas stated,…”the head of the magistracy went ahead without making an attempt to find out if she was actually represented by counsel.”
Although Thomas and Eustace had both advised Headley on previous occasions but had never been retained by her, they both made the decision that they wanted to assist her.
After making this decision, the lawyers set about attempting to halt the deportation.
“…The law says that if somebody is ordered deported, they have seven days within which to appeal,” Thomas pointed out.
The state had attempted to repatriate Headley on the Tuesday following her Thursday court appearance. This was unsuccessful. One version is that there was apparent non-compliance with the instructions given to her by the airline agent, supposedly followed by outbursts from Headley, after which she sat down next to her luggage. The processing of her departure was said to have been stalled, and the airline system eventually had to close off.
Before Tuesday, the lawyers were filing the necessary papers to the court, Thomas explained, which took some “wrangling” because the magistrate’s and High Court apparently “refused” to take the papers.
On the Tuesday that Headley was set to be flown out, the lawyers were putting together an injunction to take to the court to enjoin the Immigration Department from deporting their client without her hearing.
“We finally got a hearing before Justice (Nicola) Byer and Justice Byer stayed the deportation until the hearing on July 20th,” the counsel said.
It is yet uncertain what are the legal arguments that will form her application on this date.