New police measure could face legal challenge

Social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong is hinting at a legal challenge to the newly amended Police Act.

In a press release issued this afternoon entitled, A Citizen’s Response to the Newly Amended Police Act, Comissiong did not expressly state that he would sue the “callous and stiff-necked” Freundel Stuart administration over the measure, which gives police, particularly the Commissioner of Police, extensive powers to impose curfews and curb Barbadians’ constitutional rights. However, there was no doubt where he stood on its constitutionality.

“It is highly unlikely that this new piece of legislation will pass the test of constitutionality once it is challenged in the Supreme Court of Barbados,” the attorney said in the release.

Comissiong has been there before, having successfully challenged the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration in 2016 over its plans to introduce fingerprinting at all ports of entry, including for Barbadian nationals entering and leaving the country.

He made reference to that case today, stating that the Stuart administration did not learn any lessons from that issue.

Hence, he said, the DLP legislators in both the Upper Chamber and the Lower House did not appear to be bothered by the prospect of losing yet another case.

“These–after all — are the same legislators who, less than two years ago, enacted the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations that stipulated that every Barbadian travelling from or returning to his or her own country had to be fingerprinted, and that Barbadians could actually be prevented from re-entering their own country if they refused to be fingerprinted,” he wrote.

“These regulations — it should be recalled — were found to be unconstitutional and were struck down by the Supreme Court of Barbados. How tragic it is that the callous and stiff-necked Freundel Stuart administration has seemingly learnt nothing from that most shameful episode in the history of the Parliament of Barbados,” he added.

During debate on the measure in the Senate, “eminent and well respected Barbadian patriots” such as Sir Roy Trotman, Sir Henry Fraser, Lady Carol Haynes, John Watson, and Sir Trevor Carmichael, as well as Opposition Barbados Labour Party senator Wilfred Abrahams, pleaded with the Government side to withdraw the measure to allow for national consultations.

However, Comissiong noted, the 12 Government Senators “have simply ignored all pleas for a process of popular consultation”, and voted to enacted the Bill into law.

The vote came a day after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler spoke in Parliament about illegal wiretapping between 2000 and 2009, by unnamed persons, but widely believed to be then Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin.

Comissiong said it was ironic that 24 hours after the minister had “made public pronouncements about a Commissioner of Police abusing his powers to carry out wiretapping of telephone conversations . . . the said administration is proposing to place even more extreme power into the hands of the Commissioner of Police to — in tandem with the Attorney General– impose  curfews and cordons on the people and communities of Barbados”.

Under the newly amended Police Act, the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General will have the power not only to determine which areas of Barbados will be placed under curfew, but also to determine the curfew hours, he explained.

“These two office holders will therefore have the power to imprison thousands of Barbadians in their homes for up to 48 hours, or to prohibit thousands of Barbadians from returning to and accessing their homes over a 48-hour period.

“In addition, the police will have the power to cordon off areas of Barbados for eight hours at a time, and to oblige any person who happens to be within the cordoned area to answer questions put to them by the police. And so, the citizen’s right to choose to remain silent is thrown out of the window,” he complained.

The new law also gives police the right to search persons, motor vehicles and homes within the curfew area once a police officer “claims to have reasonable suspicion that the commission of any offence known to the law– no matter how minor or trivial that alleged offence might be — is intended to be committed.

“In effect, the police will to all intents and purposes have full liberty to search persons, vehicles and homes as they please,” the social activist said.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite earlier today dismissed concerns raised by Comissiong and other critics of the measure, including the Bar Association, saying the criticism was much ado about nothing.

“There is nothing new about this in terms of other parts of the region . . . and while I am Attorney General I will do it without fear of criticism and without the noise that I am hearing from certain quarters. So the David Comissiong’s etcetera, they don’t bother me for one bit,” Brathwaite told reporters this morning on the sidelines of the police conference at Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St Michael.

13 Responses to New police measure could face legal challenge

  1. Keen Observer February 9, 2018 at 5:31 am

    David you were a supporter of Marxist leaders like Fidel Castro. As long as there are ISIS fighters returning to Trinidad Barbados must beef up it’s security. As long as guns continue to enter Barbados to threaten innocent lives this country must beef up it’s security.

    • allison archer February 9, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      that’s what I can’t understand this guy David support and admired these Cuban, Venezuelan leaders who have their people as prisoners in their land yet still he is against this bill

      I am not condoning this bill for it raises lots of questions in taking the rights of the people away but David man truly you are full of double standards

      this is why the young people rebel so much, they can’t understand for there are too many hypocrites dwelling among them

      Lord Jesus help us all that we learn to know the clean from the unclean, holy from profane, the righteous from the unrighteous.

  2. jrsmith February 9, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Mr, Comissong don’t you think is about time you do something which benefits the people of Barbados , people who shout the loudness in Barbados are the ones who never contribute anything to the economy of Barbados…………. Try doing something to help the sewage problem ……….
    Its so sad that our Barbados had to the be the country to make Donald trump’s point………

    • harry turnover February 9, 2018 at 6:56 am

      Agree with you 100 %.This rejected,dejected former member of the DLP was aptly described by Denis Kellman sometime ago

  3. Richard Johnston February 9, 2018 at 6:15 am

    This law is tantamount to martial law, which should be rare and not a normal recourse in case of disturbance.

  4. sticks and stones February 9, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Well.govt set out to put measures in place to confront and deter the. criminal element which has invaded barbados society and which will sooner rather than later have a long term negative impact on the socia-economic environment of barbados.
    Govt least worry should be Commissiong legal barriers and intrusive legal actions for sure as day runs into nite time would have the last word as to who is wrong and who was right.
    For with an almost certainty if these measures are cast asides the criminal element would have their way and barbados would pay a heavy price and in the final analysis Commissiong would have to take the blame

  5. Sheron Inniss February 9, 2018 at 6:34 am

    I may be wrong but I see it the same way Richard Johnston.

  6. archy perch February 9, 2018 at 7:44 am

    When the gunmen were shooting up the place all over Barbados, many commentators boldly claimed the government was being soft on crime and all other charges. These shooting and killings threatened tourism, was a claim. Washed up, do nothing, former Attorney General Smiling Puss, was all over BLP radio on River Road kicking DLP butt. Now the government gets tough and the red flags go up. Damn if you do, and damn if you don’t. Comissiong is a fraud. He touts the blackness agenda, but supports the crooked Barbados Labour Party, which is financially controlled and influenced by its masters the group led by Charles Herbert.Comissiong has also successfully stalled government proje ts by filing lawsuits tying up the matters in a slow judicial system.He also ignores the suffering people of Venezuela where the real Dictator remains his friend.I compare him to the smell of stale fish.A hypocrite.

  7. Freedom for security February 9, 2018 at 9:55 am

    The one eyed man is king in the land of the blind. I feel as though I’ve been living as a one eyed man in Barbados for many years now. As the DLP destroy this country and then as a lame duck government seek to pass unconstitutional legislation. Then here comes the shouts of a government that has created an environment for increased crime to strip the general public of their constitutional rights to “protect” the citizenry?” To say Bajans are like sheep is to insult sheep. I find it very troubling that all the commenters above have chosen loss of FREEDOM over some ridiculous idea of security, by empowering individuals that can never be trusted with such power.

    Then for this Adriel Brathwaite, to act like some kind of dictator in regards to the rights of Barbadian citizens! Well, I for one agree 2000% with Mr. Comissiong, this fight should be taken to the Supreme court and over turned to protect the rights of all Barbadians. The law stands as it did for all these years to ensure power in not concentrated, concentration of power is a terrible thing in a democratic society; in dictatorships they are the norm. But most Barbadians won’t understand that the threat of increased crime is a direct result of the inability of this government to govern, and we should never give up our right to due process without following more stringent producers to properly inform the public before such laws are even attempted to be passed.

    If the greater general public wish to lose their freedoms for security, that should be determined via some level of education of what it really means. I can guarantee you that most of the commenters above here are party lined fools, that would welcome another term from this pack of clowns called the DLP! If you want to protect your neighborhoods, you should be voting for anyone but the DLP, and I’m sure something better would come of it.

  8. Alex Alleyne February 9, 2018 at 11:15 am

    If we take the POLITICS out , then we might see things as they really are.
    Maybe someone out there renting-out “bullet proof vests”.

  9. seagul February 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Acceptance of the rule of law means that courts must be able to exercise jurisdiction over the executive, otherwise the conduct of the executive would not be restrain by law. It is because of that basic principle, that countries deliberately seeking to put detainees beyond the reach of law, secret prisons. This an affront to the principles of democracy. Without independent judicial control, we cannot give effect to the essential values of our society. –Law and freedom is the basic philosophy of liberalism. Without liberal reform society doesn’t move forward.
    Concentration of power is a very dangerous thing. We must remind ourselves that in this great future don’t forget your past.
    Ninety-nine % of the politicians and their supporters are the true frauds. Educate and don’t agitate. We love all Bim.

  10. sticks and stones February 9, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Only people with skeletons i their closet would cr Right if freedoms. One thing for sure after the horse called “Criminal” has bolted getting back to stable would be a harder than hard undertaking
    Jamaica is now learning such lessons a hard way that with all the freedoms given the one freedom the people of jamaica dies nit have is a genuine sense of security to walk the streets without fear of violence as day after day gun violence riddles rich poor young and old alike.
    Is that the kind of freedom bajans are looking to endorse

  11. Sue Donym February 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Help me, please… when did it become fashionable to sneer at the thought of freedom? When did reason desert so many of us that a call for preservation of basic freedom is seen as resistance to the police and the nation’s security?

    Is it not more likely that when the criminals feel that their – and everyone else’s – freedom is threatened that they are more likely to be violently rebellious?

    Please stop equating requests for moderation from authorities with a desire for rampant criminality. On the contrary, we deserve targeted and resourceful policing with the emphasis on identifying and isolating the criminal-minded, rather than a hit or miss approach that could have a huge negative impact.


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