A member of the Upper House of Parliament has launched a scathing attack on the nation’s highest court, accusing it of seeking to “legislate” and ruling as unconstitutional laws that its justices find personal disfavour with.
Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn described the Caribbean Court Justice (CCJ) as being “shoddy” and “bungling” in its rulings.Saying he had grown “tired” of the justices, he accused the court of not conducting research before making their rulings.
Senator Franklyn accused the appeals court of interfering in Barbados’ affairs and attempting to impose its own legislation, suggesting this was a job for Members of Parliament – over whose actions the appointed Senate has oversight.
The Opposition senator has since changed his mind after being originally in favour of the court’s establishment, he said.
Senator Franklyn made the comments during debate on Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill 2018 in Senate today, which is seeking to repeal the mandatory death sentence for persons convicted of murder in Barbados.
Lawmakers are amending the law after the CCJ had ruled that a mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional.
“When that court as first being touted, I was all for it, but the more I hear then the more disillusioned I become.”
“We have a CCJ which has made itself into a legislating court and it is starting to legislate for Barbados and I am worried about that,” Franklyn said.
“As much as I don’t like it, we have a legislature with 29 people on one side in the Lower House, and of course we know how the Senate is configured. That is our job!”
The CCJ, he said, could not simply label something as unconstitutional simply because “it did not like it” and called for the body to do conduct more research before handing down rulings. He did not elaborate, or detail any cases in which the justices had erred in his view.
“They don’t rule something unconstitutional because they don’t like it. They can make suggestions that it should be changed… but because they are the highest court in this land then it is.
“But I would like to understand their reasoning because I am getting tired of them,” the senator said. “They just come out and do things without research and I am getting tired of that.”
Reacting to the news that the electorate had voted in referenda on Tuesday against replacing the Privy Council in the UK House of Lords with the CCJ, Senator Franklyn said: “They are shoddy and I am not surprised that Antigua and Grenada rejected them because they can see what is happening on the ground.” (RB)