Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Fallout For Caribbean Elections Predicted After CCJ ‘Treating’ Ruling

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Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan has warned that there will be fallout from a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling in a 2014 Dominica election treating case.
The Dominica Attorney believes the CCJ decision will have grave consequences for future polls in his native country.
But Astaphan also feels it will impact other countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The CCJ judgement reinstated criminal complaints against 15 successful Dominica Labour Party (DLP) candidates.

The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) quoted Astaphan as saying that it opens the door for winning election candidates to be targeted and persecuted.

“I think every political leader in the OECS and CARICOM needs to be fully advised of the consequences of that decision,” he said.

According to CMC, the senior attorney was speaking on DBS Radio.

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His comments came this week.

The CCJ had dismissed an appeal filed by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and other DLP candidates.

As a result, it reinstated summonses issued for them to appear in the Magistrate’s court on a charge of treating.

Treating relates to directly or indirectly providing food, drink or entertainment to a person, during or after an election with the aim of corruptly influencing that person’s vote.

Three members of Dominica’s  United Workers’ Party (UWP) who had been defeated in the December 8, 2014 polls claimed that the offence was committed when the DLP hosted two free public concerts in Roseau before the elections.

As a result, they filed criminal complaints and a Magistrate subsequently issued summonses against Prime Minister Skerrit and the other elected DLP members.

The DLP MPs challenged that and were successful at the High Court, but the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court overturned the decision.

The DLP MPs then went to the CCJ.

They argued that the Magistrate lacked the authority to issue the summonses.

According to their argument, the offence of treating concerned the validity of the election and only the High Court could decide this question.

Astaphan appeared for Prime Minister Skerrit and the other DLP Parliamentarians.

CMC quoted him as saying that he respected the CCJ ruling.

However, the senior attorney felt that any political party that loses an election could now decide to file three, four, five criminal complaints against each of the successful Members of Parliament.

According to Astaphan, the matter can then drag on for years in the Magistrate’s Court, the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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