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Dominican Lawyer Continues Crusade Against CCJ

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – An attorney who lost a lawsuit against the Dominica government before the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has taken his case to the Regional and Judicial Legal Services Commission (RJLSC).

In an April 6 letter to the Commission, Cabral Douglas, is calling for an investigation and overturn of the February 2017 decision of the CCJ

Douglas has been critical of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, after it dismissed an application he filed accusing the Dominica government of causing a breach of contract with the Jamaican entertainer Tommy Lee Sparta.

Douglas had alleged that the action of the Roosevelt Skerrit government also caused multiple violations of his rights under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), but the CCJ ruled that Douglas had failed to prove a breach of treaty rights which were intended to benefit him directly.

Tommy Lee, 26, whose real name is Leroy Russell, was scheduled to perform at a concert in February 2014, when on his arrival with three members of his team — TiashaOralie Russell, Junior Fraser and Mario Christopher Wallace — they were all denied entry, detained and deported the following day.

The Dominica government said its action was based in the interest of public safety as several organisations, including the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches, had denounced the artiste’s appearance saying his music glorifies Satan and promotes lawlessness and violence.

Douglas, the promoter of the Dominica show, said the stance taken by the government was illegal and he was demanding more than three million US dollars in compensation.

In his letter of complaint to the Commission, Douglas cited seven irregularities including that the Dominica government was permitted to be heard despite filing its request to be heard out of time, and not applying for and obtaining relief from sanctions as required by rule 19.4(1).

Douglas said that the fact that the court did its own research and featured it in its decision without allowing him to comment on it as well as the fact that the application was not decided based on the actual submissions made by the defendant.

He wrote that the court failed to rely on any of the submissions made on behalf of the defendant by Attorney General Levi Peter, instead choosing to rely on its research; and that the Court failed to properly deal with his submissions but relied on its research without references or scrutiny by him were among the other irregularities.

Douglas also complained that CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron attended the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Guyana on 17 February 2017 and the Court announced it had come to a decision during that meeting.

“We are indeed very concerned about this. We believe an urgent investigation is required. Did Mr. Byron meet with the Defendant Prime Minister Skerrit? If so, in what capacity? Was the pending case against the Defendant discussed with the Defendant Prime Minister? Did Mr. Byron meet with CARICOM Secretary General and Dominican national, Irvin LaRocque? If so, did these discussions have an undue influence on the decision,” he questioned.

“In any event, it is our submission, relying on R v Sussex Justices, ex Parte McCarthy (1924), which has been adopted throughout the free world and indeed the Commonwealth, that the mere presence of Sir Dennis Byron at the Heads of Government meeting, attended by the Defendant Prime Minister creates the appearance of bias sufficient to overturn the decision. According to Lord Hewart in McCarthy: ‘Nothing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper interference with the course of justice’,” Douglas wrote.

The RJLSC is responsible for recommending the candidate to be the next President of the Court as well as for considering and appointing judges for the Court.

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