Monday, April 22, 2024

Lawyer: EBC got it wrong


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The way is now open to all Commonwealth citizens who qualify under the Representation of the People Act and have been living in Barbados for three years or more to register to vote in the upcoming General Election.

This was confirmed by attorney Wilfred Abrahams at a press conference at the Barbados Bar Association’s headquarters in Perry Gap, Roebuck Street, St Michael yesterday.

“[On Monday], in a surprising turn of events, the Crown . . . officially withdrew the Electoral and Boundaries stated position in respect of the qualification of Commonwealth citizens to vote in Barbados. Previously the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) had publicly stated, and stated in correspondence to us, which was the basis for the actions, that it was their long held policy that they were not authorised to register anyone as an elector in Barbados, unless that person was a citizen, a resident or an immigrant possessing the immigration status of resident or immigrant in Barbados,” he explained. 

The legal team of Abrahams, Brian Weekes, Gregory Nicholls, Alexandra Daniel, and Queen’s Counsel Leslie Haynes were representing Grenadian Shireen Ann Mathlin-Tulloch, Jamaican Michelle Russell, Sharon Edgecombe-Miller of Montserrat and St Lucian Professor Eddy Ventose, who formed part of a class-action suit challenging the EBC’s stance of not allowing them to register and join the voters’ list.

Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson had last month ruled that Commonwealth citizens should be allowed to register based on regulations within the Representation of the People Act. However, the Solicitor General’s Office appealed the decision.

Abrahams said they had contended from the outset that the EBC was wrong.

“The Electoral and Boundaries Commission had strenuously defended that position . . . and that was their position in all the submissions and pleadings until [Monday] morning. They are effectively now in the same position as any Barbadian registering to vote in the upcoming election; we just want to make that very clear,” he said, adding that the other arguments in the case were irrelevant to the main concern. (RA)


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