Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is standing firmly behind Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s plan to break ties with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if his administration were to be re-elected for a third straight term in tomorrow’s poll.
While making particular mention of the recent legal challenge that was brought by St Lucian professor Eddie Ventose against the Electoral and Boundaries Commission over its failure to register him as a Commonwealth citizen to vote in the May 24 election, Brathwaite said: “I actually understand very well where the Prime Minister is coming from and I share his annoyance with the court, in particular the recent matter that we had.
“If you could imagine receiving documents on Saturday night, 700 pages of documents, from an appeal for which we had not received a written appeal as yet, and a court then determines that they would hear and determine this matter on Sunday,” Brathwaite, who is also Minister of Home Affairs explained, adding that “in most cases, any reasonable court would have taken the decision, ‘Let us settle the record. Let us settle the grounds of appeal. Let us give all parties the chance to examine all the issues, make their written submissions etc”. So I share the Prime Minister’s concerns about the court, I am very annoyed about it,” the Attorney General told reporters on the sidelines of last night’s Democratic Labour Party (DLP) meeting in Haggatt Hall, St Michael.
However, he made it clear that his Government’s concerns in relation to the CCJ went beyond the Eddie Ventose matter. In fact, he harked back to the 2013 decision of the CCJ, which is the country’s final court of appeal, in the case involving Jamaican Shanique Myrie, who was awarded BDS$77,240 by the CCJ which ruled that subjecting her to a cavity search, locking her up in a unsanitary cell and deporting her ran contrary to the rules of the revised Treaty of Chagaramas.
However, while contending that that judgment was “wrong”, Brathwaite said “we need to go back to the court to let them explain how they arrive at certain decisions”.
“I think, unfortunately, that certain actors in the court are more concerned about bringing other countries around than ensuring that they do the right thing continuously, so I share the Prime Minister’s concerns,” he stressed.
As for the incumbent DLP’s legacy, he said it was “one of tremendous accomplishment in the face of ten years of financial challenges.
“I am very proud to have been part of this administration,” he said while speaking out strongly in defence of its decision to have Barbadian students pay tuition fees at the University of the West Indies since 2014.
“When this happened for example, I was in the United States and the chap from the State Department who met me laughed. You want to know why? Because all of his children were still paying back their fees for years and that is a first world country in comparison to us,” he said while contending that those who can afford to pay should do so.
A major criticism of the Stuart administration was that it did not communicate enough with the people.
However, Brathwaite suggested that “more Caribbean leaders should be like the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister’s position is as follows, he appoints you as a minister. You manage your ministry. If he has to speak continuously about your ministry, then he should take over your ministry, very, very simple. So if he has to speak on law and order, if he has to speak on what is happening in the prison and on disaster preparation etc, then I am not doing my job. That has been his position and he is right about it,” Brathwaite stressed.