Former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite Q.C. wants the law courts to make a determination on whether the Senate has been properly constituted.
The senior lawyer is represented by attorneys Garth Patterson, Q.C. and Michelle Russell who have filed a constitutional motion seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the matter.
In a statement released this afternoon, he contended that the Upper House is not fully constituted, with only 18 of the 21 members appointed so far, and therefore the Parliament is not fully constituted.
However, the former AG in the last Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration insisted the move was not politically motivated.
Below is his full statement:
The Constitution is our supreme law. It is a body of the core laws and principles that describe the general organisation and operation of the sovereign state of Barbados. It contains fundamental principles and delineates the norms that circumscribe the exercise of powers vested in a government. It is the fountain from which springs the authority of all government action. It is the means by which the key organs of the State, the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, are established and are infused with the plenitude of authority and powers.
More fundamentally, our Constitution represents an expression of the shared values, identity, and purpose of our society. It reflects the hopes and aspirations of every citizen of this country, one organised under democratic principles and whose people are inexorably committed to the rule of law. Central to this concept is the requirement that the government must, at all times, act in accordance with the law, especially our supreme law. Our legislative branch of government, in discharging the constitutional remit of making laws for the peace, order, and good government of this country, must be properly constituted at all times, and must pass laws strictly in accordance with the prescriptions of the Constitution, in order for any law passed by it to be infused with the colour of legitimacy.
Parliament has been convened, and is purporting to conduct business, at a time when one of its key organs, the Senate, has not been constituted in accordance with the clear, unambiguous mandate of Section 36 of our Constitution. Only 18 of the required 21 Senators have been appointed. This means that we do not have a Senate, and, without a Senate, we do not have a Parliament. More importantly, any business that it purports to conduct will be devoid of validity. Despite the clear, urgent calls for the rectification of this unsatisfactory state of affairs, the Government has unlawfully proceeded to pass, in the House, a Bill for an Act of Parliament that alters the Constitution itself, at a time when three of the members of the august Senate body have not been appointed and will, consequently, have no opportunity to debate or vote on these crucial proposed constitutional amendments. This is against the background of no consultation with stakeholders, no attempt to obtain a broad consensus from members of our society about these substantial, fundamental changes to entrenched provisions of the Constitution that have represented our law for over 55 years.
It is for these reasons that I feel compelled to seek the intervention of the courts to resolve this controversy – one that centres around issues of vital national importance and goes to the root of our democracy. I have today instructed my lawyers to file in the High Court an application that seeks declaratory reliefs aimed at compelling this Government to put its house in order before conducting the affairs of State. I do so in my capacity as a former Attorney General for this country and as a private citizen who is deeply committed to the notion that our government must be according to laws.
I wish to make it clear that I am not bringing this action on behalf of any political party with which I may have previously been affiliated. My action is guided by my profound desire to ensure that our republic remains a democracy. I place my confidence in the courts, as the guardians of our Constitution, to resolve this pivotal and consequential constitutional crisis.
I have enlisted the assistance of my good friend and colleague of almost 40 years, Garth Patterson, Q.C., who has kindly answered my call to represent me in this important cause, and he will act on my behalf with the able assistance of Michelle Russell, attorney-at-law.