Prime Minister Mia Mottley advised the country tonight that Barbados will impose a curfew from 8PM to 6AM starting on Saturday 28 March 2020 until 14 April 2020. On a personal note the Prime Minister also shared she will be MIA for a while because her medical team advised her to undergo a medical procedure this coming weekend. Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw will act as prime minister. The blogmaster wishes her well.
Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill
“Barbados is not only an economy. It is a society. We must never forget this. – David Thompson (late Prime Minister of Barbados (2008-2010)
The week just past was one in which neither partisan politics nor the rickety state of our economy appeared to play a significant role in national discourse. Nary a whisper about the likelihood of devaluation, nor about the electoral chances of the aspiring individually dubbed “third” parties; nothing as to the composition of the forces of opposition massed against the current governing administration, scarcely a sigh of the thesis that the answer to all our woes might be found in the soonest dissolution of Parliament and the consequent issuance of the gubernatorial writ for a general election. Indeed, it was if politics and the economy had taken a holiday.
But, as nature is reputed to abhor a vacuum, so too seemingly does local public discussion and we witnessed the emergence of no fewer than three issues, all pertaining not to the hackneyed partisan politics and the economy; but rather to the obverse side of the coin that is Barbados – the society. It was former Prime Minister, the late David Thompson, who once famously averred that Barbados was not only an economy but also a society; implicitly asserting that overemphasis on the first might ineluctably be to the detriment of the latter and that we should never forget this.
The three issues to which I refer may each embody a cautionary tale for the type of society we might want to fashion for ourselves. First, there was the issue of whether our children should be instructed in contemporary health, human sexuality and family life in the school. This was not in itself the teachable moment however; after all, this is an issue about which some people may reasonably differ, depending on their individual perceptions of the roles of the school and of the home in certain aspects of the education of their charges.
However, as a society, we might want to eschew the blanket prohibition of inquiry by others and their right to material information through the employment of fear mongering and appeals to stigma-infused nightmare scenarios. Hence, for one opponent of the proposal, the instruction would be merely a form of child abuse and likely to have the consequence of turning our children into homosexuals. Is this the level of reasoning to which we aspire as a progressive, educated, twenty-first century Commonwealth Caribbean society? Or would we rather have employed a measure rational thinking supported by some degree of empiricism in order to persuade others of our point? For those equally opposed to the teaching of this subject in the classroom, this “reasoning” might have some level of allure, but when an argument is attended by a base appeal to myth, phobias and emotive mislabelling of the subject matter, then we may ask whether we are any further along the road than deciding matters by reading the entrails of a freshly slaughtered animal or reading the leaves left in the bottom of a teapot.
The second issue relates to last week’s “March for Respect” as it was termed by the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union [BSTU]. As I wrote last week, the provisions of international labour law, to which Barbados is signatory entitles the workers’ organization, without interference by the public authorities, “to organize its administration and activities and to formulate its own programmes”. So long as it is not in breach of the law, the organization is free to pursue whatever strategy it thinks might best achieve its objectives as the representative body of its membership, even though a march followed by inaction reminds somewhat of a damp squib.
Still, there is one aspect of the immediate dispute, the teachers’ claim to payment of remuneration for the marking of the school-based assessments [SBAs] prepared by the examinees of the Caribbean Examination Council from their schools that might contain a teachable moment. While I cannot knowledgeably comment on the merits of either the claim nor its rejoinder by the local Ministry of Education, as I am unaware of the details of either, it appears to me that this dispute could very well prove interminable, much to the disfavor of the students and the chagrin of their parents and the public. The optimal solution seems to lie in the soonest impartial arbitration of the dispute by an individual or individuals agreed to by both parties, but Barbados has been content so far to “resolve” its industrial disputes purely by social dialogue and without the use of an arbitral body of any kind. Should we continue this state of affairs or has the time now come for compulsory industrial dispute resolution by an established institution or by an ad hoc body, as may currently obtain?
The third issue is the call of the Director of Public Prosecutions two Fridays ago for the abolition of the traditional trial by jury in Barbados. Oddly enough, this call is premised on curtailing the incidence of delay and the consequent substantial backlog in criminal trials. The Director is right when he states that the right to a trial by jury is not a constitutional entitlement but, as noted by the Bar Association in its response, “scrapping jury trials would not necessarily cut down the “mountain” of cases clogging the judicial system”, especially since the delays in the system are front-loaded in that the delays tend to occur before the start of the hearing.
Further, while the right to trial by jury might not be an express Constitutional guarantee in the strict sense; it nevertheless forms part of that penumbra of unexpressed natural justice rights that are to be implied into the guarantee of a trial by a fair and impartial tribunal. One other such would be the rule against duplicity of charges so that the accused knows the precise charge against him or her to be defended. The larger idea is that the members of the jury, as men and women of the world, are far better situated to discover the truth of a matter than the judge, who can claim no special training in that regard.
This is clearly a matter for dispassionate debate by the public as part of the future ordering of our society. Would we have the trial of an accused by a lone judge or panel of judges both as determiners of the truth and also appliers of the law or shall we maintain the age-old and mostly inaccurate notion of trial by our peers as presumably obtains with the existing jury system?
Stuart pointed out that for all practical purposes, Barbados was already a republic. A Republican form of government stipulates that those run the people’s affairs should be chosen directly or indirectly by the people themselves. We already do that. Under republicanism, the persons who administer your affairs can serve during your pleasure. In other words, they should only be able to stay as long as you want them to stay –Barbados Today
Dear Mr. Prime Minister, please tell me where you will get the money needed to change around everything from the Monarchical system to that of the Republican one?
The Minister of Finance is always complaining about “low cash flow” when it comes to satisfying the needs of the poor, the needy and the vulnerable, and the institutions on which they depend. You come to us now with something which is nothing but another red herring to try to get out of the predicament you are in at present.
The Ebola issue playing out in the United States of America (and the world) makes for interesting study. The expectation that individuals fleeing an Ebola infected Africa will 100% comply to ticking the appropriate box on an Entry and Departure form (ED) trivialises the safety of the global population.
An irony, and injustice, for those who are aware is the sad reality that a Barbadian has been frustrated in his attempt to patent a technology that would efficiently manage cross border travel at borders by relevant departments. Challenging the implementation of such a process is the unwillingness of the ‘system’ – read DLP and BLP governments – to give a Barbadian his day in court.
We have to listen to Minister Donville spouting his rhetoric about improving business facilitation, we listen to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite expressing frustration at our clogged court system and we moan for our country.
In its June 5 issue the Nation newspaper published an article with the title ‘Symmonds pokes at NHC’ which has largely gone unnoticed by the public. BU congratulates the newspaper for sharing the story, it serves to confirm the extent to which our system of government is broken.
The article highlights an interesting exchange in parliament between Opposition member of parliament (MP) Kerri Symmonds and MPs on the government side. During the exchange we learned about a cease and desist instruction which was issued by the Permanent Secretary of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to the Minister of Housing not to bring any more persons to the NHC to seek employment. Based on the newspaper report the order was ignored by Minister of Housing Denis Kellman.
While I fully understand all the fiscal restraints Government currently has and the historical and possibly political desire to complete the recently re-named Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre, I would like to propose a second option.
There is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago stole a march on the Southern Caribbean by constructing a new conference facility and an adjacent first class hotel. It’s no secret that most people attending conferences, for all sorts of reasons, want to stay close to where the event is taking place.
The very last thing is they wish to endure is to spend indeterminate amounts of time fighting with rush hour traffic to reach where the function is taking place. For whatever reason, ‘we’ missed a golden opportunity with the construction of the Hilton. 354 rooms, but not one large enough space to host major exhibitors and trade or consumer shows.
In hindsight it would have been so easy to have incorporated a single meeting area on one level of at least 10,000 square feet. Whether it was rooftop, basement or even formed part of the car park!