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Press Release: OECS Bar condemns attacks on Judiciary in the Commonwealth of Dominica

by: - December 5, 2019
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The OECS Bar Association notes with deep concern the continuing unrest and agitation in the Commonwealth of Dominica on the eve of the 6th of December 2019 General Elections.

We are particularly concerned about the recent attacks on Madam Justice Bernie Stephenson, one of the two local judges, prior and subsequent to the hearing of a recent election matter. Apparently dissatisfied with her ruling, the judge has come under sustained and seemingly well-orchestrated attacks, threatening her own safety and personal security.

We roundly condemn the unfortunate and unwarranted attacks on Justice Stephenson and by extension on our judiciary. We urge the authorities in Dominica to take the necessary measures to ensure that proper systems are in place for the safety and security for Justice Stephenson and other Judicial Officers.

The OECS Bar will continue to promote and jealously safeguard the independence of our Judiciary which represents our last bastion of justice. We urge parties to desist from any action that undermines the independence and authority of the Judiciary.

In the OECS we are proud of our democratic processes and regard for the rule of law. It is in that vein that we call on the people of Dominica, particularly our member lawyers and the local Bar Association, to remain calm and to engage the legal process and to exhaust all legal measures, if necessary, to peacefully resolve the current impasse and avert any potential for violent confrontation. Violence or the incitement of violence is not an option.

We call on all sides to exercise restraint and avoid any action that carries with it the potential for violence. Now more than ever, in such a highly charged atmosphere, the rule of law assumes greater importance.

We remind parties that impulsive, emotional and partisan action today may very well have adverse consequences long after elections.

Let us do everything to preserve peace and promote the rule of law.