Due Process Being Forsaken in The Bahamas?
Over the years we’ve seen Summary Conviction clauses placed in legislation that gives the Government Minister responsible the power to be prosecutor, judge and jury over matters he/she might consider contrary to the act.
Bear in mind, this is dramatically different than the Minister reporting a suspicious act to the Police who might press charges where one ends up in court in front of an independent judge and jury.
The Minister has the power to be the Police, Judge and Jury.
And now the Government is proposing similar powers, (if not more so as they can take your passport if passed in the present form), for the new VAT Commissioner.
What I find most egregious about this legislation is it’s drafted by lawyers that should have an appreciation for due process and the rule of law.
Here’s a little background.
In 1368 a statute was made in England called the Observance of due Process of Law.
This is what it said:
“None shall be put to answer without due Process of Law.“ITEM, At the Request of the Commons by their Petitions put forth in this Parliament, to eschew the Mischiefs and Damages done to divers of his Commons by false Accusers, which oftentimes have made their Accusations more for Revenge and singular Benefit, than for the Profit of the King, or of his People, which accused Persons, some have been taken, and [X2sometime] caused to come before the King’s Council by Writ, and otherwise upon grievous Pain against the Law: It is assented and accorded, for the good Governance of the Commons, that no Man be put to answer without Presentment before Justices, or Matter of Record, or by due Process and Writ original, according to the old Law of the Land: And if any Thing from henceforth be done to the contrary, it shall be void in the Law, and holden for Error
In today’s language, Justice.org puts it this way:
“Due process and the right to fair trial lie at the heart of our common law system of justice. For centuries, they have expressed the core idea that every person is entitled to the due process of law, to challenge the legality of their detention, and to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.”
If this isn’t enough, Chapter III of The Bahamas Constitution seems to guarantee certain rights to due process.
To dismiss such an important tenet, established during the reign of King Edward, so easily, is a travesty to say the least, setting a dangerous precedent for future generations.
I trust Bahamians will not let this stand.corruption, politics, taxes, VAT