Comissiong takes aim at Gollop over fingerprinting comment
Attorney-at-law and social activist David Comissiong has hit back at fellow lawyer Hal Gollop, QC, who last week rejected out of hand the Supreme Court ruling in the fingerprinting case brought by Comissiong against the Freundel Stuart administration.
After Justice Pamela Beckles ruled last Thursday that the Immigration Biometrics (Regulations) 2015 were null and void, Gollop told Barbados TODAY on Friday that the judge had acted prematurely.
He argued that the legal judgment was an absolute nonsense, contending that that Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations 2015 were still at the “idea” stage and were yet to become law, therefore there was no legal victory to boast about.
“It is not a law, so you cannot act under it. Consequently, you cannot be sued under it,” Gollop said.
However, Comissiong today dismissed Gollop, stopping just short of saying the senior attorney had spoken from a position of ignorance.
The social activist told Barbados TODAY Gollop should have read the court documents before offering a public comment on the ruling.
Comissiong stressed the absence of a defence by the Solicitor General’s office, claiming Government simply had no defence.
“On the very face of the claim form it was clear that the Constitution had been breached; the Immigration Act had been breached; the Interpretation Act that outlines the correct procedure for enacting statutory instruments had been breached and that the action of the Chief Immigration Officer to act upon the regulations was null and void. These things were so clear that the Crown did not even attempt to defend the claim,” he said.
Comissiong, who had sued Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall over the proposed plan to fingerprint Barbadians leaving and entering the country, repeated his argument that the Immigration Biometrics (Regulations) 2015 were not properly and lawfully enacted in accordance with the law.
Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that Beckles granted two orders: one to quash the directive made by Griffith to have every Barbadian entering and leaving Barbados fingerprinted and the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations 2015 because they were illegal.
The longstanding attorney pointed out that not only was the correct procedure not followed in publishing the regulations in the Official Gazette, but added that the effect of the regulations constitutes a breach of the statutory and constitutional rights of Barbadians.
Comissiong also contended that where the regulations purported to restrict the entry of Barbadians who refuse to be fingerprinted, they conflicted with Section 22 of the Constitution of Barbados as well as with Section 4 of the Immigration Act of Barbados.
The Immigration Act and the Constitution say collectively that it is an absolute right of a citizen to return to his native land unfettered and unrestricted, the activist insisted.