Three Commonwealth citizens, who have each been living in Barbados for over a decade, are challenging their exclusion from the country’s voters’ list.
Grenadian Shireene Ann Mathlin-Tulloch, Jamaican Michelle Melissa Russell and Montserratian Sharon Juliet Edgecombe Miller have been seeking to get their names added to the electoral list in time for the next general election, which is constitutionally due next year.
However they claim, that when they contacted the Electoral and Boundaries Commission, they were advised that they were not eligible to be on the list, as they did not enjoy permanent residence, immigrant status or citizenship of Barbados.
Mathlin-Tulloch has been living and working in Barbados for the past 16 years, Russell for 14 years and Miller for 17 years. All three women are holders of Barbados identification cards and registration numbers and were granted permission to reside and work here indefinitely as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Skilled Nationals.
Attorneys-at-law Bryan Weekes, Wilfred Abrahams and Alexandra Daniel are representing Mathlin-Tulloch, while Russell and Miller have Gregory Nicholls as their legal counsel in association with Weekes, Abrahams and Daniel.
The applicants, who appeared before Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson this afternoon, are seeking judicial review of the decision of the Chief Electoral Officer to refuse to register them as electors as Commonwealth citizens who meet the criteria of Section 7 of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 12 of the laws of Barbados.
They argue that the Act makes no distinction but allows all Commonwealth citizens who reside in Barbados for three years or more to qualify for registration as electors.
Furthermore the joint applicants are arguing that the commission is “acting unlawfully and in contravention of the Laws of Barbados” and are requesting that the court quashes the Chief Electoral Officer’s decision.
During submissions in the No. 1 Supreme Court today, in the case in which the Chief Electoral Officer is named as the first defendant and the Attorney General as the second defendant, the Crown represented by Crown Counsels Anika Jackson and Kayla Headley applied for the Commission to be named as a defendant as well.
As such Sir Marston gave the Crown two weeks to file further affidavits and the applicants three days after that to reply. All parties must also file written submissions by December 8 in the matter, with Sir Marston to give further directions on December 14.
Abrahams, Weekes and Daniel must also file by this Friday an application with supporting affidavits, that the current case before the court be treated as a class action suit, which means the pending ruling will not only apply to the three named applicants, but anyone within the class of persons identified.