By Barrister Shillings not Pence
The Caribbean Court of Justice delivers a blow against the corruption of our society and judiciary
In a judgment released on March 9, 2021 , the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed the appeal in the matter of Roosevelt Skerrit & Ors v Antoine Defoe & Ors  CCJ 4 (AJ) (DM) and affirmed the order of the Court of Appeal reinstating the Magistrate’s summonses for the appellants to appear to answer the election charge of treating. Treating refers to directly or indirectly providing food, drink or entertainment to a person, during or after an election with the aim of corruptly influencing that person’s vote. The Court heard the appeal on 10 December 2020.
The case arose out of a criminal complaint against Dominica’s ruling king and elected members of his court of clowns who have sentenced a whole country to hard labour by bribing their way into office over several election cycles. Nowhere on God’s good earth has a nation been consigned to purgatory by a regime using the people’s own money to use, abuse, and mamaguy them.
At the CCJ hearing it was the female David aka Cara Shilllingford, versus the Goliath aka Tony Astaphan. In a knockout blow delivered by Cara and Co., the regime was sent reeling against the ropes. The brilliant, yet humble Cara, clobbered the Mighty Mouthpiece turned Meanie Mouse who was left to scramble amongst his jungle of papers seeking refuge against sober, incisive and learned arguments against which he could fashion no rebuttal. At the CCJ the learned judges are not swayed by senior clowns who come to court, not with a conscience, but with a dirty red shoe looking for cockroaches to squash.
The regime’s mouthpiece and would-be cockroach smasher argued to the court that those criminal charges against his clients should have been dismissed as only the High Court of Dominica had the authority to determine the validity of an election petition. The superbly precise rebuttal of attorney Cara Shillingford was that the Magistrate’s Court had original jurisdiction to try persons for the criminal acts of treating or bribery to corruptly influence an election.
Tony Astaphan, a long time cunning enabler of the regime on the campaign platform, argued that to allow the Magistrate’s court to hear a criminal prosecution for treating would result in the ruling King and his minions being made to march into court. That limp argument was clothed in the haughty, elitist and arrogant reasoning which is a rebuke to any democracy loving people and worthy of a reigning king who feels himself above the law.
The stench of such an argument which sought to place Skerrit and crew above the law caused the court to note ” no one is above the law.” And herein lies the importance of this decision for Dominican people and the cause of democracy in our Caribbean – indeed the world:
1. Treating and bribery can be fought via the filing of a criminal complaint in the Magistrate’s Court or the filing of an election petition in the High Court.
2. That the Prime Minister and this ministers are not above the law and can be hauled before the Magistrate’s court if they are charged with treating or bribery like any other citizen.
3. That charges for treating or bribery can be brought against elected members and/or their accomplices.
4. The Constitution of Dominica allows.
for a citizen to file an action for treating or bribery via, either a criminal complaint in the Magistrate’s court, or civil elections petition in the High Court.
5. The CCJ reasoned that a criminal complaint in the Magistrate’s court was about violation of the law against corrupt practices by individuals – elected or not. On the other hand, an election petition must show, quantitatively, that the corrupt acts complained against would have likely affected the outcome of an election. They are not one and the same. In this case the ruling King and this court are before the criminal court for criminal acts. Good for them. May they have the justice they have denied Dominicans for so long.
6. The criminal complaints being brought against Palace dweller and company in the Magistrate’s Court is subject to the burden of proof which must rise to “beyond a reasonable doubt” while the civil elections petition in the High Court adopts the lower burden of proof which is by a preponderance of the evidence or a balancing of the probabilities.
7. That the CCJ judges, in their questions and reasoning, made clear the concern that to allow treating, bribery and other corrupt practices to proceed unchallenged would allow lawlessness to flourish.
8. The CCJ decision was a victory for a public policy that clamps down on parties in power, or those parties with the biggest purse, treating, bribing and corruptly holding on to power by putting on lavish campaigns to corruptly influence the vote.
While the CCJ did not engage the details of how the Passport Peddler and company run elections on Dominica, even a dead Ray Charles with double dark shades can see the rot into which we have descended in way of stolen elections. Elections under the Scary King are an orgy of handouts which go beyond giving needy citizens a red shirt, a red hat and a red horn to jump up in the hot sun, playing the fool.
Blatant treating and bribery to corruptly influence the vote are hallmarks of the current regime now plundering Dominica. The regime is skillful at the handing out of galvanize, plywood or cold cash – aka “cool-out” money to citizens to corruptly influence their vote.
That criminal practice of conferring of material benefits are now accompanied by firework displays, booze, scantily clad entertainers dancing on stage, free plane and ferry rides, and free concerts by high priced international artists. All this bribery proceeds at a dynamic pace, while economic development languishes in a coma in the misnamed Dominica-China Friendship Hospital ICU. What is “friendly” about a foreign power that brings down drones by way of electronic warfare where flown by law abiding Dominican citizens who broke no law. Yet those Dominicans citizens, who just happen to be critics of misrule on Dominica, were arrested and imprisoned for two days on “suspicion of suspicion?” But I digress.
The CCJ did not specifically address the means by which our elections are so corrupted, However, Dominicans at home and abroad can now be somewhat assured that the courts are now waking up to their duty.
The good citizens of Dominica, and lovers of democracy, can now savor this long awaited victory for justice and rule law, Of equal importance, we could also observe on the CCJ Youtube video how meek, mild and mumbling in his mumbo jumbo was El Supremo’s legal brain the Senior Jester at the Royal Court of the Palace Prowler.
Be educated about argument before the CCJ by viewing here https://youtu.be/pck2750WBsE