The Supreme Court of Barbados has been asked to “commit” Chief Electoral Officer Angela Taylor to Dodds “for a period of time for contempt of court”.
Leslie Haynes, QC, made the urgent application yesterday on behalf of his client, St Lucian Professor Eddy Ventose, a Commonwealth citizen, who has been seeking to have his name added to the electoral list for the upcoming general election.
Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson ruled back in February that all Commonwealth citizens who meet the requirements under the Representation of the People Act had the right to vote here.
In that February 26 ruling, Sir Marston ordered that Ventose, who was among four non-nationals challenging their exclusion from the list, “be registered with dispatch” as he had met all the requirements.
“The court mandates that the . . . Chief Electoral Officer shall register the applicant [Ventose] as an elector to vote in Barbados within 14 days of today’s date, as he has satisfied the conditions under Section 7 of the Act,” the Chief Justice said then.
However, Haynes told Barbados TODAY that the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has yet to abide by the ruling.
“The Crown had applied for a stay of the order for 14 days and then the Chief Electoral Officer had 14 days within which to register Mr Ventose. So the 14 days stay elapsed and then the 14 days to register Mr Ventose has also elapsed, so 28 days passed . . . and this is nearly the middle of April. So therefore, he or she has had a long time,” Haynes stated.
The application for the stay was filed by Taylor’s attorneys, Principal Crown Counsel Deidre Gay-McKenna and Acting Principal Crown Counsel Anika Jackson, and the issue was expected to be heard in the Supreme Court tomorrow.
However, given the ongoing industrial action at the Whitepark, St Michael building, it was not immediately clear whether it would proceed.
Still Haynes maintained that the Chief Electoral Officer must explain to the court her reasons for not complying with the order.
“We can’t have chaos in this country; court orders are to be obeyed,” the Queen’s Counsel said.
“The rule of law is paramount, although some people wouldn’t feel so. If you don’t have the rule of law you have chaos and when people don’t obey court orders then chaos will reign,” he argued.
Sir Marston set April 16 for a hearing on Haynes’ application on the basis that the Chief Electoral Officer did not have sufficient time to prepare, a decision which Haynes described as “quite fair”.
Unlike Ventose, the other Commonwealth citizens involved in the initial suit against the EBC, Grenadian Shireene Ann Mathlin-Tulloch, Jamaican Michelle Melissa Russell and Montserratian Sharon Juliet Edgecombe-Miller, had not filed the necessary application form at the electoral office and Sir Marston said then he could “not compel” the EBC to register them.