A dear elderly friend mentioned to me some difficulties he was experiencing at the hands of his children together with their mother, his ex-wife, I realised it was elder abuse immediately but especially flagrant abuses of his civil liberties.
He wanted to get his attorney to conduct or change some business but was being prevented from so doing. Since I was well known to the household I told him I will inquire for him but would need his permission. I however made an appointment with my attorney and called him saying I’ll pick him up the next day to take him to the attorney. When I arrived the next day his daughter was there with him and asked what the mission was about. I ignored the question. This was 2017.
I visited the Welfare/Probation Department and complained. They said he has to make the complaint himself. I went to the Police but they said the same thing. Called the US Embassy they said the same thing. They further said that they have to respect the laws in the host country and there were none that empowered them to intervene.
Bound and in disbelief I consulted an attorney who said there were no elder abuse laws in Barbados but I could bring the case under Neglect or such but advised that unless they get instructions directly or a written authorization they couldn’t take the case. No attorney would take the case or bring a case unless the elderly give direct instructions.
I continued to monitor the situation. But subsequent visits the daughter was always very in the midst of us so that no personal or private conversation could be conducted. It is unacceptable that there is not one authority in Barbados that can move in and protect the elderly that are being abused either physically or financially or civilly or sexually or psychologically except the elder makes that complaint themselves.
So what was very peculiar in this instance was the hostage effect. The elder was barred from using the telephone he pays for or visiting or being visited by anyone outside those who bought the talk that he is senile or suffers (incurable) from Alzheimer’s. Everyone is warned that he doesn’t know what he is saying so they let sleeping dogs lie.
There is apathy when dealing with the elderly too. Its as though they have passed their “use by date”. While visiting the Probation Department I collected literature on Elder Abuse under the UN Human Rights Convention. I decided that I would bite the bullet and get some action on this elderly’s behalf using this Law.
I filed a case in the High court in March of 2019 with an emergency application seeking among other orders, primarily a Protection Order and Partial-Custodianship. I was given April 19th (Good Friday) then that was postponed to July 25 which was postponed again and then to year end, 2019. After some outside intervention I finally got a Judge and date: February 27 2020.
1. On that first appearance January 27, 2020
The Judge said she studied the file and is aufait with the case contents and orders sought. She asked if anyone helped me with the Application and I said no but I did speak with an attorney. She knew it was flawed. But before sharing this with me and giving me the leave to correct it she continued with it as is. She told me that I will get some of the orders but not all. She adjourned for two weeks to invite the Probation department to guide her, saying that this matter was new to the courts. I was relieved that I could then leave this burden to the professionals.
2 Second Appearance: February 13, 2020
On that date I appeared and there was no Officer from the Probation Department (PD). Instead the judge told me that she had decided to deal with the matter under the Mental Health Act (MHA) because the PD doesn’t have power under their Act to deal with such aspects of this matter but only economic assistance. She did not consider any other act. She instructed me to serve all the Defendants. I resisted because I requested an Ex Parte Application for a Protection Order on this action and that wasn’t given. She said that is for Magistrates’ courts. She said serve the defendants. I tried to explain the dangers in these cases (and trafficking) of alerting the perpetrators/defendants of what is happening while the victim/elderly remained in the dwelling and in a vulnerable state. She said,“that’s a chance we will have to take”. Distressed and overwhelmed I began canvassing the various agencies that are or should be dealing with elderly abuse or care of the elderly or human rights to try to avoid serving and alerting the defendants of the pending actions while the victim remained in the same space. No one could do anything but the Ministry of People Empowerment advised that there were many legislations that could have been used that authorize the ance of a Protection Order. They couldn’t do anything since the matter was already occupying the courts’ attention. At a dead-end and with the deadline for minimum service time nearing I went against my better judgment and decided to go ‘like a lamb for the slaughter. I served the documents. No time was I told that the case before the court was procedurally wrong.
3 Appearance February 25, 2020
The Defendants appeared with an Attorney who said that I had no grounds for bringing a case on behalf of the elderly since I did not seek and obtain the courts’ permission. He moved to strike out my case in place for an application for Custodianship of the elderly by the very Defendants who the elder asked to be protected from the Mental Health Act. claiming I did not have the court’s permission. I asked for immunity for any possible damages for bringing the case and the Judge seemed shocked at the request. The Attorney ventured that I was asking for immunity only because I didn’t want to pay cost. I said I wasn’t bothered about cost. That went over his head. I informed that there was another child from another relationship. The Judge cautioned that the defendants must be transparent and that all relevant parties must be included in the application. The attorney indicated that the Act allows the patient to say who he wants to be involved in his care. To my mind that is under normal circumstances when the elder is in agreement to and part of that decision but not part of the Claim. The Judge then said if by the adjourned date she does not have the MHA application before her “the issue will have to be kept alive” . that is the case on file. The same case with all the ‘not procedurally sound’ issues.
With this conditionality and know it would take some time to get in touch with the other child, and knowing that I did not use the MHA but was guided by the Human Rights Act/Principles for Older Persons resolution 46/91 of December 1991 of which Barbados is a signatory I decided to prepare and file my Submissions.
The 2nd Claimant did not appear because although the Court served Take Notices on all parties, he did not receive his service. The defendants purposely and maliciously withheld all this information from him. The matter was adjourned for March 20. The Attorney indicated to me after the hearing that he has never met the 2nd Claimant.
The case was further postponed to March 26 then along came Coronavirus.
4 Appearance Friday 26, June
The Judge indicated that she did have the application under the Mental Health Act in her hands and therefore she will dismiss the original case. I asked why and indicated that I filed submissions for my case which stated the law under which a party could bring a case on behalf of another and gives immunity. The Attorney interjected that I went ahead and filed submissions although I was advised that the application for the MHA would be soon coming. He further stated that I did not have the court’s permission to act as the elder’s friend. I was shocked. Only then did the judge say to me that my matter is not procedurally sound. He also stated that the Judge should not even have been entertaining me since I was not a legal party. Four sessions. I asked for leave to get permission.
I asked for leave to get permission but the Judge indicated that she had the MHA application in her hands (as if to say the one overrides the other). Not being an Attorney they distracted me. The Judge never reviewed my Submissions, it seems, as she clearly had decided to go with only what she knew and what the defendants’
Attorney proposed: the MHA regardless of my response to the defendants that I did have grounds to bring a case under the Human Rights Act as outlined in the submissions before her (filed before the defendants’ MHA) and which is interpreted to state that I did not need the court’s permission in this instance. The Elder was a part of the Claim.
My application was faulty, yes, covering what could be deemed many cases/issues. The remedy therefore could have been to strike out that part of the case which was in conflict with the Law and retain and ventilate those which were covered by the law as per my submissions.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs did say that there were several legislations that could have been used to issue a Protection Order. This is mind-boggling. I bowed out. I however asked for the elder to be allowed his independent attorney as in the first instance it was a violation of his civil liberties;that he was held hostage in his own home and secondly denied access to his attorney and appropriate medical care and attention.
The big irony is that the Attorney asked for cost which I instructed that the 2nd Claimant will have to pay since it was his case I was joined with. He has to pay the cost for attempting to bring a case against the defendants who used his money to mount the defence against his case. T he very defendants who are again now using his money to bring a MHA application without his knowledge or consent to suggest/ inquire into his capacity to manage his own affairs and for them to do so if he is found to be incompetent.
Stephen Lashley missed it all along…that the elder was also listed as Claimant. LMAO
The Law is an Ass. Or the people that work it.
Nothing in my Statement of Case suggests that I intended to be the party applying for Custodianship of the elder.
MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE