Black Immigrant Daily News
The ball is back in Senate’s court as the Mottley-led Administration once again seeks to have the Integrity in Public Life Bill passed and so cited.
Government will be bringing the Bill to Parliament tomorrow, January 31, and has cautioned that senior government officers and senior judicial officers hired in the future would fall under the legislation approved by Cabinet yesterday.
This was disclosed Friday by Attorney General Dale Marshall during a post-Cabinet press conference at Ilaro Court, however, he quickly pointed out that this Bill will not try to impose the change on already appointed judges, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor General. He said to do so would be a breach of their constitutional protection.
Marshall stressed that current constitutional provisions made top judicial officers exempt from the proposed law, but those hired in the future would have to comply with the provisions.
The Attorney General noted that when Trinidad and Tobago sought to subject their judges to integrity legislation, a high court suit was filed and the measure was ruled unconstitutional.
“We’ve carefully analysed the Trinidadian provisions. Trinidad and Barbados have the same common law heritage and our constitutions are very similar, and it is, therefore, fair to conclude that such a challenge would be received and supported by our courts, if we sought to make our High Court judges subject to the provisions of the integrity legislation,” Mr. Marshall stressed.
He continued: “We think that we’ve reached a reasonable compromise. In my view, it would be distinctly unconstitutional … to try to impose these obligations on our current judges, but there’s nothing wrong with imposing them on future appointed judges as a condition of their appointment. And, therefore, the Bill, as Cabinet has approved it, will be laid in Parliament on Tuesday; will obligate future appointed judges, future appointed Directors of Public Prosecutions, future appointed Auditors General because all of those have the same constitutional protection now.”
The Attorney General said he was satisfied that the “Bill as presented today” would satisfy the requirements of the Senate. He recollected that the first attempt to pass the legislation did not receive the two-thirds majority support in the Upper House and the Bill was defeated. The current Bill was also tweaked to reflect Barbados’ change to Republican status and though the Senate still comprises some members from the previous slate of senators, the government is hopeful of a different result this week.