Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
PM warns of ‘political alarmism’
AMIDST suggestions that the recently amended Police Actis unconstitutional, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is calling on critics to take their concerns about this piece of legislation before the law courts.
His comments came on Sunday night at the Eden Lodge Primary during a DLP St. Michael North branch meeting, where he lamented that every piece of legislation which government sought to pass has been criticised by the Opposition BLP and deemed “unconstitutional”.
“None of this unnerves me. I have seen all of it already. The only institution in Barbados or in any other part of the Common Law world or the western world that can determine that a piece of legislation is unconstitutional is a court. No individual can stand up and announce that any piece of legislation is unconstitutional.”
“I heard all of this talk in 1974 when Errol Barrow amended the Constitution itself. I heard this talk where the Public Order Act was passed in 1970 in Barbados. After all of those criticisms, when the critics got into Office, the pieces of legislation remained untouched. They were just indulging in political posturing as is happening now.”
Prime Minister Stuart said under common law and various other pieces of legislation, police in Barbados have always had the right to stop and search. He also noted that cordoning off crime scenes is normal so that evidence is not tampered with or the scene is not compromised.
As it relates to curfews, he said they already exist whether persons admit it or not. “In communities across Barbados that criminal element with firearms has been keeping people off the streets at night and beyond a certain time of day. Do we prefer them to do it, protecting their own criminal enterprise or do we want it done by the RBPF lawfully, in accordance with the law for the protection of all of us? That’s the choice. If you prefer curfews done by the criminal gun toting element, that is a choice you can make, but they are doing it for their own perverse criminal purposes,” he warned.
“If anybody feels that the law is unconstitutional. Go file an application before the court, and ask the court to pronounce on it. We believe in the rule of law,” the Prime Minister reiterated.
“When an attorney general issues his certificate – I was an attorney general, I know, I have done it on many occasions; when an attorney general issues his certificate, his certificate means that the legislation has been examined in all of its dimensions and has been tested for constitutionality. So that when the Cabinet approves that Bill and it goes down to Parliament, the government is satisfied that the constitutional requirements have been satisfied.”
The Prime Minister recalled that when the Erskine Sandiford-led administration implemented the eight per cent pay cut, it was deemed unconstitutional. He noted that it was taken before the High Court and made its way as far as the Privy Council where it was ruled to be constitutional at all levels.
“If you feel that the piece of legislation needs to be tested for constitutionality, go to court and ask the court to pronounce on it.
“But trying to stir up alarm in society and to give the impression that government wants to create a police state is really not the best example of civic virtue.”
“When you hear this talk, this is just political alarmism. An attempt to get people agitated and to make them feel something wrong is happening.
That is not what it is about. Governments are elected to govern and we try to do that to the best of our ability,” he said. (JH)