A rare protest by criminal attorneys and a meeting with Supreme Court officials resulted in a win for lawyers on Monday, as they have been assured of parking privileges at the newly renovated Henry Forde and David Simmons Legal and Judicial Complex on Coleridge Street, The City.
Convenor of the Criminal Law Committee of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) Martie Garnes told Barbados TODAY on Monday afternoon that from Wednesday, the attorneys will have designated parking.
This followed lengthy talks between BBA President Kaye Williams and her team, and Registrar of the Supreme Court Sharon Deane and her delegation after nearly two dozen attorneys staged a peaceful protest outside the complex and refused to work in the courts there until adequate parking was provided.
Showering Deane with praise for her open-mindedness and quick response to discuss their grievances, Garnes said it has been agreed that the lawyers will enter the precincts of the courts from the rear of the complex on Tudor Street to access the allocated parking.
“There are some logistical issues that we still have to work out, but it should be from Wednesday morning; we should be able to have full access to the court so that the attorneys will be able to park,” he said.
Additionally, the parking challenges at the nearby Supreme Court Complex on White Park Road have also been addressed.
“There are also limitations and certain restrictions that will be taking place in the Supreme Court to ensure that persons who are conducting business at the court would always have accommodation in terms of access to the court with their vehicles, because, as you would have seen this morning, there would have been some [parking] challenges. So, we are really thankful to the Registrar and we look forward to working with her,” the Criminal Law Committee spokesman said, commending all who contributed to the resolution.
Barbados TODAY observed indiscriminate parking all across the Supreme Court compound. The entrance to a portion of the parking lot, designated as reserved parking for government officials attending a meeting at the Coleridge Street complex, was cordoned off by cones but the Barbados TODAY team witnessed Minister of Energy and Business Senator Lisa Cummins unable to leave a reserved parking spot because she was blocked in by vehicles parked in front of the cones.
During the afternoon, the Registrar of the Supreme Court led a tour of the intended parking area for the lawyers doing business at the Forde and Simmons Complex. She was accompanied by representatives of the BBA, including Williams and Garnes, as well as a team from the Office of the Chief Justice.
The members of the legal fraternity who engaged in the protest in the morning to demand access to adequate parking had initially carried placards with slogans such as “De Registrar don’t give a park” and “Babylon fly de gate” but soon abandoned the placards after police instructed them to cease the display because permission had not been granted by the Commissioner of Police (COP).
Garnes later admitted in an interview with Barbados TODAY that they did not have time to apply for permission. It was last Friday that he served notice that lawyers would take further action if their parking concerns at the court complex were not addressed.
“In order for there to be the placards, you have to have had permission from the COP and because . . . certain events would have occurred in a very short space of time, we weren’t able to get that permission [application] to the police commissioner,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Garnes sought to make it clear that the protest action was not only about parking but about justice for all. He pointed to other pending matters of concern, including the discovery of a cell phone taped under a table in a police station interviewing room at the District ‘E’ Police Station, and client confidentiality rooms at police stations.
“We were not out there just for parking. We were out there because there were a number of issues that we see every single day in the criminal justice system,” he said. “We just wanted an amicable resolution and we got it and we are thankful for it. So, we are just hoping the other issues we would have raised, there would be further dialogue because all we want is to be heard; consider what it is that we are suggesting in terms of the problems and the challenges that we experience. And we are also providing solutions; it’s not to say we are just identifying issues and not providing solutions.”
“When it is that suspects make allegations against police, what are we going to do to ensure that certain allegations cannot be made? Are we going to put body cams on the police officers to ensure and show people that when people come in police stations that we now have a modern justice system, rather than rely on or using draconian uses of ways of evidence?” the attorney further queried.
Garnes said the legal fraternity wants to see whether Monday’s public demonstration could be the “pivotal stepping stone” to change in Barbados.
He also identified the “serious” issue of the “long” delays in the delivery of judgments as one for urgent attention, noting that some in the High Court have been outstanding for as long as five years.
“That is a serious issue we need to consider because the delay in judgments is a delay for justice for all,” Garnes contended.