Salisbury unrest matter takes new twist as High Court Judge orders parties to file written submissions
The Salisbury unrest matter takes new twist, as High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson orders the parties to file written submissions, in response to each other’s oral submissions, on or before November 30, 2016; and thereafter, the Court will rule on the matter. She also ordered that all submissions are to be filed on paper, as well as electronically. Justice Stephenson had granted a stay, in the case of Salisbury residents arrested and charged under the Riot Act of 1897, following protest action in the Salisbury community in 2015.
Through their lawyer, Cara Shillingford, the residents had filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of the Riot Act. On Wednesday, Attorney Anthony Astaphan, along with Solicitor General Tamika Hyacinth Burton and State attorney Arthlyn Nesty, told the court that the Defendants were on an “exercise in futility”, since they should have waited until the matter was determined by the criminal court before filing their motion.
Astaphan argued that the Riot Act was in order, and since the defendants had broken the law, the police were “right to charge them.” However, in her submissions, the Claimants lead attorney Cara Shillingford, along with Julian Prevost and Ronald Charles, told the Court that the Riot Act which was enacted in Dominica in 1897, is not consistent with the values of today’s society, and contravened provisions of Dominica’s Constitution. She argued that the UK repealed its Riot Act since 1973, and it was unfortunate that this “barbaric and archaic law”, was still on the books of Dominica.
The defendants Hector John, Hilary John, Thomas Louis and Lennary John, were summoned to court, based on allegations that they took part in protest actions in Salisbury on May 11 and June 11, 2015. On the days mentioned, the Salisbury community was engulfed in disturbances, as police and residents faced-off.
The protest action, on May 11, was against poor farm road conditions in the area. It was eventually broken up by the police, but a second protest took place on June 11, after the police moved into the community and arrested six (6) residents, based on allegations that they were part of the first protest action.
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