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Investors and our justice system

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Investors and our justice system

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BARBADOS’ JUDICIARY is rarely chastised in public locally, far less spoken about in any harsh manner. That’s why when Minister of Commerce and International Business Donville Inniss said after a meeting with the private sector that the local judiciary was seen as a major stumbling block to investment, many were caught by surprise.
Inniss reportedly said: “From their [private sector] perspective, a view that [there is] a level of tardiness or indecisiveness on the part of the judiciary is affecting business in Barbados.
“We actually have situations where there may be some businesses that may not now be opting to come to Barbados because of their concerns about the judiciary. So let us be fair and sit down with the judiciary and have that conversation.”
We do not accept that our judiciary is tardy or indecisive. Rather, a distinction must be made between the judiciary and the administrative aspects of the justice system.
Yet the minister’s statement demonstrated the intricate link between the rule of law and the economy, and its ranking alongside political stability, and infrastructural development, like the quality of health and education facilities, as major considerations for potential investors.
The fact is that investors – whether local or foreign – like to know the system of justice in the country they’re investing is efficient, effective and even-handed. That way they can feel assured that any matter they are involved that may need adjudication would be fairly dealt with.
We need to remind the minister that Government also has a responsibility to ensure the rule of law is adhered to. For example, when the judiciary hands down a judgment against Government, it should abide by the ruling as long as the appellate process has been completed.
That way no investor could reasonably perceive that Government here is above the law and do not have to adhere to any ruling made against them by the court.
Here we speak of the outstanding matters involving Jamaican Shanique Myrie and Al Barrack in particular.
Just this week, Myrie expressed frustration that eight months after the Caribbean Court of Justice awarded her US$38 620 in damages for an illegal cavity search, detention in a dank room, and subsequent deportation, she is yet to collect a cent.
She reasoned that the Freundel Stuart administration was deliberately dragging its feet in paying her and said this was not fair.
In Barrack’s case, he is now owed an estimated $90 million in principle and interest after being awarded $34.5 million in arbitration back in 2006. And despite statements over the years from the Prime Minister and at least two other ministers that his matter would be settled, he has not yet been paid.
If people don’t feel they will get their due even though the courts have determined in their favour then the rule of law in our society will be undermined.