Statement of the OECS Bar Association in Response to Continuing Attacks on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and Its Officials by Cabral Douglas
The OECS Bar Association again unequivocally condemns — for the second time since April 2017 — the continuing attacks by Cabral Douglas, via the internet, on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), and in particular its President, Sir Dennis Byron and well-respected member of the Regional and Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) Dr Francis Alexis.
Defamatory and Baseless Allegations
In a recent press release dated 24 October 2017, and subsequent publications, Douglas has made what we consider to be highly defamatory and baseless allegations of bribery against Sir Dennis and Dr Alexis. In essence, he accuses Sir Dennis of paying a bribe to Dr Alexis for the latter to publish his latest book ‘Changing Caribbean Constitutions,’ which was launched in the Commonwealth of Dominica in March 2015 to coincide with that country’s ascension to the Final Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ.
Dominica was the last of 4 countries — the others being Barbados, Guyana and Belize — to join the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ. All independent States of the OECS and the majority of other CARICOM nations are already members of the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ.
Douglas has purportedly written to the Acting Commissioner of Police of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Stephen Williams) with an ‘Official Police Complaint’ against Sir Dennis and Dr Alexis. He seeks their criminal prosecution. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, we note that even his own ‘facts’ forming the basis of the complaint, do not amount to bribery and corruption as he alleges.
Naked and Reckless Propaganda
In a disdainful display of poor and irresponsible journalism, Douglas —who holds himself out as both an Attorney-at-Law (in Australia) and a Journalist — has sought to mix falsehoods and facts in a manner intended to woo an unsuspecting public into further distrust of the CCJ and its key functionaries.
Clearly, Douglas has no genuine police complaint. He seeks merely to create a scandalous news story to fuel his rampaging anti-CCJ agenda. Plain and simple, it’s pure, naked and reckless propaganda, uncaring as to the consequences. So anxious is Douglas to embark on the ‘anti-CCJ’ campaign that he is not even prepared to allow the police to investigate his own complaints and to take the necessary actions thereafter. Instead, he publishes to the world, risks losing any protection of privilege he may have in a defamation action, sullies the good reputation of Sir Dennis and Dr Alexis — all the while shamelessly using the internet to maximise his global reach.
Motivated by Pure Malice
Motivated by pure malice, Douglas seems intent on continuing his attacks on the CCJ. It appears that he has been out to exact revenge ever since the CCJ, in its Original Jurisdiction, ruled against him in February 2017, in an application seeking leave to initiate action against the government of Dominica for damages in the sum of US$3 million. In a lengthy and reasoned judgment, the court held that he did not satisfy the requirement of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to obtain requisite leave.
In April 2017, we had occasion to issue a statement condemning the irresponsible attack by Douglas, via the media, in response to the CCJ ruling against him. We are forced to do so again, as Douglas continues to openly launch attacks in his self-serving mission to breathe distrust and undermine the CCJ.
In its last 13 years of operation, the CCJ has rendered several judgments favourably referred to by respected courts throughout the globe, including the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Those judgments, including the one against Douglas, are available for close and critical scrutiny on the CCJ website.
Matters of Positive Public Record
It is a matter of public record that Dr Alexis, a distinguished scholar, received funds from the JURIST project for the publication of the 2nd edition of his book ‘Changing Caribbean Constitution.’ Launched publicly in Dominica in March 2015, this scholarly work received wide acclaim throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean. Dr Alexis, the feature speaker at the impressive ceremony to mark Dominica’s ascension to the CCJ, publicly acknowledged the contribution of Sir Dennis and the Jurist project, in making the publication of the book a reality. In fact, he did so both in the book (acknowledgements section) and in the ceremony broadcast live throughout the Caribbean. For Douglas to take such positively historic achievements and seek to transform them into something negative is nothing short of embarrassing.
It is also a matter of public record that Dr Alexis was deservedly appointed to the RJLSC in 2016, on the recommendation of both the Director General of the OECS and the Secretary General of CARICOM in accordance of the Revised Treaty. He was not handpicked by Sir Dennis as Douglas woefully seeks to have the public believe.
Contempt of Court
We view the reckless utterances of Douglas as a contempt of court, for which action ought to be taken by the appropriate authorities. Freedom of expression comes with responsibility. Disgruntled litigants must not to be allowed to baselessly attack the court and its Officers without appropriate sanctions. An example ought to be made of Douglas. As is well known, the right to criticise does not extend to defamatory attacks on reputation.
We also call upon both Dr Alexis and Sir Dennis to take appropriate action to defend the integrity of the CCJ and their hard-earned reputations.
No Descending to Gutter
The OECS Bar will continue to stand as a watchdog to ensure that we maintain the integrity and independence of our judiciary. Let it be known that we encourage robust discussion and responsible criticism regarding actions taken by stakeholders in the administration of justice, including our judiciary. Invariably this leads to greater effectiveness and efficiency of our justice system.
Such engagement, however, must never descend to the gutter and cause havoc to the reputation of others. This will only serve to undermine the very institutions that we are trying to build to ensure justice for all.
The OECS Bar demands that Douglas stops his senseless attacks on the CCJ and its functionaries NOW!
OECS Bar Association