Legal action filed against PM, AG over state of emergency

Legal action filed against PM, AG over state of emergency
Attorney Wayne Munroe, Q.C.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Twenty-one people are suing the prime minister and attorney general for damages, claiming that the state of emergency and emergency orders have breached their constitutional rights.

The writ, filed by Attorney Wayne Munroe on Tuesday, seeks declarations that there was no state of emergency within the meaning and contemplation of Article 29 of the constitution, in The Bahamas or on every island of The Bahamas, at the time the proclamation was made by the governor-general or when the state of emergency was extended by Parliament.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, in his capacity as the competent authority, and Attorney General Carl Bethel, have been named as the defendants.

The writ notes that the action by the prime minister “in purporting to create offences for breaching the orders made by him and purporting to create an arrestable offence for breaching said order were done by the [prime minister] without jurisdiction and authority”.

The suit is seeking court orders quashing the criminal complaints and convictions against the plaintiffs found breaching the COVID-19 emergency orders.

It’s seeking an order to return the fines paid by the plaintiffs convicted of breaching the emergency orders.

The suit is also seeking an order for the defendants to pay damages to the plaintiffs “for breach of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution”.

Further declarations being sought by the suit would indicate that the Emergency Regulations (COVID-19) 2020 and Emergency (COVID-19 Pandemic) Regulations, 2020, “made by the governor-general were made in excess of jurisdiction granted to him by the Emergency Powers Act”.

The writ read: “In the circumstances obtaining at the time that all of the orders made by the first defendant (Minnis), purportedly pursuant to the Emergency (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, were made, insofar as they purport to create criminal offenses, create arrestable offenses, or effect private contractual rights, they were ultra vires the Emergency (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, and/or did not meet the requirement of being reasonably justifiable set out in Article 29 (2) of the constitution.”

A declaration is also being sought that, at that material time of the enforcement, the emergency orders offended the rights of the plaintiffs guaranteed by Articles 19 to 26 of the constitution.

The plaintiffs in the matter are: Charles Johnson; Dave Nixon; Rashanda Miller; Peter Allen Rolle; Javon Javille Rolle; Shivago Davis; Kevano Hutchinson; Ramone Deangelo Rolle; Phillip Jayavonni Rolle; Fabian Davis; Meia Charlton; Anthony Anderson Rolle; Timel Wilson; Kishna Bodie-Williams; Nebat Brent-Williams; Glenda Simms; Giovanni Sawyer; Eldon Kelley; Sandra Ferguson; Henry Rolle and Jenson Brown.