The Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA) joins in solidarity with the Bar Council of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and the OECS Bar Association in condemning the scurrilous and unwarranted attacks on Justice Eddy Ventose following his delivery of a judgment on 27 February 2020 in a matter involving certain public figures.
We recognise that the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is in election mode which carries with it inflamed passions and robust exchanges. Such must never extend, however, to threats of violence against anyone, moreso judges in the discharge of their duties.
OCCBA calls on leaders on all sides of the political divide to counsel their supporters against all forms of violence and threats of violence and to respect decisions of the court even in circumstances where there may be good grounds for justifiable criticism and dissatisfaction. Appropriate avenues of appeal exist to challenge the rulings and correct the errors of High Court judges and other judicial officers.
We commend the Bar Council of the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis for rising swiftly and responsibly in condemnation of the attacks and in defence of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. We urge all constituent Bars throughout the region to continue to stand as watchdogs in the promotion of the proper administration of justice.
As Bars, we remain ever stronger when we rise collectively to defend against unwarranted attacks on our judiciary and provide an effective voice, especially in circumstances where our judges are unable to speak publicly.
We fully endorse the calls for greater security for Justice Ventose in this period, for a full police investigation into the source of the threats and for appropriate action to be ultimately taken against the perpetrators. Violent threats are not to be taken lightly.
Most importantly, we urge members of the judiciary to remain undeterred in the face of the recent attacks and to continue to discharge your functions fairly but fearlessly, without favour, affection or ill-will and in a manner that wins the trust, confidence and respect of Caribbean people.
OCCBA takes this opportunity to call upon members of the public to use social media responsibly, as a tool of robust and constructive engagement to address the diverse and challenging issues of society, including the justice system. Faceless violent threats against our judges by disaffected persons only serve to undermine the very institution that stands as the last bastion of justice for those who have nowhere else to turn.
OCCBA looks forward to a complete and speedy investigation of this matter and a return to calm within the judiciary of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis.