By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The expected introduction of the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill in the parliament of Saint Lucia Tuesday, September 28, 2020, and following a call to action in a commentary “the spineless civil society”, by Denys Springer published in Caribbean News Global (CNG) – The Bar Association of Saint Lucia, Monday evening said on social media that it has [today] September 28, “ written to the prime minister, the attorney general and the Speaker of the House of Assembly to request that the COVID-19 Bill be deferred pending public consultation and review and comment from the Bar Association.”
In the article ‘the spineless civil society’, Springer said:
“Standing by passively while this pristine land of ours is being pillaged and destroyed and sold to foreign nationals it is almost like reliving through ancient times when some stood and glorified with the burning of Rome and the destruction it had on the poor and homeless. In comparison to other West Indian islands, we have become a spineless society. Where are the lawyers, accountants and the professional class who should be able to challenge a government that continues to show disregard for the constitution and no respect for the rule of law?
“When a government uses an election to secure control of the legislative and of government and then uses this majority to implement policies that run counter to public opinion, while the system lacks the tools to counterbalance these actions; then professionals in civil society should not just sit in their Ivory tower and do nothing. Doing this tells us that something is wrong with our democracy because, in the end, a system that has grown out of all proportion gives birth to a dictatorship.”
According to the Bar Association of Saint Lucia: “This COVID-19 Bill first came to our attention on Friday via social media. The Bar Association was not consulted on this Bill,” added, “The passing of such an important Bill through all stages at this one sitting of parliament without stakeholder consultation is unacceptable. The government of Saint Lucia would have had ample time to undertake the necessary consultation on this Bill and we should under no circumstances accept a compromise of our rights and civil liberties due to this lack of understanding of the necessity of public consultation, our democracy and the Rule of Law.”
Social media was abuzz Monday evening with comments:
Mark Hennecart said: “I endorse the above statement by the Bar Association of Saint Lucia, with sincere thanks.”
Henry W. Mangal said: “Bravo to the Bar Association for partially fulfilling its social responsibility with regard to the unethical manner in which the government is handling important legislation. The Bar now needs to review and analyze this bill with a view towards advocating for the rights of citizens. This legislation must not be used as a back-door mechanism to disguise an extended State of Emergency.”
Akim Adé Larcher said: “Thank you for stepping into the fray and it’s time to pursue legal action to what appears to be a rogue Administration hellbent on eroding the foundations of the democratic process. Unleash the legal minds, this is not about party but about the law.”
Tony Jn Pierre said: “Under this led Chastanet Cabal we have witnessed the EROSION of our civil liberties… we must take our democracy back.”
Joseph Lambert said: “Stand outside [parliament tomorrow] with your masks and make sure the Bar have drinks”.
The Bar Association of Saint Lucia now enacted by Act of Parliament No. 31 of 2000 was first founded in or about 1955 with the aim of providing support for lawyers and assisting the judiciary in whatever small way we can in furthering the administration of justice on the island.
There are presently about 100 members of the Association. For our lawyers, membership expands their networks, fosters camaraderie and engenders a sense of professionalism, for the public at large. The Bar Association is committed to generating, awareness of the role that lawyers play and informing joe public of the myriad ways in which the legal system can be put to work to solve day-to-day problems.