Barbados’ Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) attorney-at-law David Comissiong today served notice that he may not be in a position to continue fighting social justice issues in court as he once did in his private capacity.
Comissiong made the disclosure while speaking to reporters after the Court of Appeal was informed this morning that the Government of Barbados and developer Mark Maloney had discontinued their appeals against his application to have the court quash a 2017 decision to grant Maloney’s company – Visions Development Inc – planning permission to build the Hyatt Centric Hotel Resort in The City.
Comissiong, who has been at the forefront of various fights for social justice including the Hyatt matter, said while he intended to see the current Hyatt case through to the end, his new job as a public official would restrict him from spending the time fighting any new application for planning permission that might also be in breach of legal requirements.
The CARICOM Ambassador, who was appointed earlier this year by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, is therefore pleading with other interest groups such as the Barbados National Trust and environmentalists to come forward and take up the battle.
“It should not be simply left to David Comissiong. If we are serious about environmental matters; if we serious about protecting our beaches; if we are serious about protecting the UNESCO World Heritage status that we currently have, important institutions in Barbados have to take an interest in these matters,” he said.
“If in fact there is a new application for a new Hyatt, the Press needs to investigate that, the National Trust needs to investigate that, attorneys-at-law need to investigate that, environmental bodies and activists in Barbados need to investigate that. It cannot be good enough that you simply leave it up to David Comissiong,” he added.
Comissiong said he would do whatever little he could, but explained that his Government job would limit his interventions.
“I would do what I can, but we also need to be conscious that I am in an official capacity as Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM and to the Association of Caribbean States. So that, some of the things I would have been able to do in the past as a private attorney-at-law, I can’t do now,” the envoy said.
“But I am sending out a message to this society, to all of the relevant institutions, do your duty. We must ensure that we have one Barbados; that we have a Barbados in which the law is there for everybody. There is no special category of citizen in Barbados. Everybody must be subject to the same law and the same requirements,” Comissiong contended.
The attorney has objected to the hotel being granted planning permission by the former Prime Minister and Minister of Town and Country Planning Freundel Stuart on the grounds that the developers failed to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and if it did, neglected to share the contents with the public and did not hold any town hall meetings.
He is also concerned that the US$100 million Hyatt was being built in a UNESCO World Heritage site and would be constructing a sewage plant on one of this country’s most pristine beach fronts.
Prime Minister Mottley has already publicly announced that the project would go ahead, but would take up three plots instead of the original two and the room capacity would increase from 237 to 250.