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Feb 25, 2019

Is the PM in Contempt of Court When He Targeted a Sitting Judge?

Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s statement aimed at Justice Courtenay Abel at last week’s business forum, has been met with dismay. The People’s United Party is first to publicly interpret it as contempt of court. The party equates the statements as a scandalous and contemptible attack against a sitting justice deliberately designed to interfere with cases before the judge, to intimidate the wider judiciary, and to undermine the rule of law. The P.U.P. also notes that the PM referred to tax cases that are before another Justice of the Supreme Court, threatening that he would do all that was possible to ensure that the government wins the cases. The P.U.P. says there is a pattern of attack against the judiciary. It points to statements by the PM against the Caribbean Court of Justice and Justices of Appeal, which led to the resignation of Justice Mottley and his attempt to stack the Appeals Court with friends, including Judge Franz Parke, who ultimately resigned.  The Chief Justice is called upon to defend the independence of the judiciary and to make public all correspondences on this matter as well as to give assurances that he will not engage in any negotiation or discussion with the Prime Minister in respect of the selection of judges to preside on government cases. The P.U.P. release ends with appeals to civil society, the churches and the social partners to condemn the attack on the judiciary and on the C.J. to report the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for appropriate action.

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