In a historic emergency sitting, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday ordered that St. Lucian, Professor Eddy Ventose, be added to the register of voters in Barbados.
A press release from the Trinidad-based CCJ said that the Court declared that it was satisfied that the legal and regulatory conditions for his registration have been met. The CCJ ordered the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), who participated in the hearing, to ensure that Ventose is registered before 12 noon on Monday, 14 May 2018. If this is not done, the CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron, warned that the CEO may face contempt of court proceedings, which could result in imprisonment and/or fines.
The release said that Ventose had stated that he was qualified and entitled to be registered to vote but his registration was consistently refused. The Court of Appeal in Barbados had on Tuesday, 8 May 2018 ruled that Ventose was qualified to be registered to vote but stopped short of compelling the Chief CEO to enroll him on the register of voters. The CEO was given 24 hours to make a determination on his application. The release said that when the CEO failed to register him, Ventose asked the CCJ to declare that he was entitled to be registered to vote and to order the CEO to enter his name on the final voters’ list ahead of its publication this week.
The release said that the order of the Court was read by the CCJ President, Sir Dennis this afternoon, after the panel of judges had withdrawn to deliberate on the matter.
The CCJ President expressed the view that the Court’s decision should also resolve the matter for other Commonwealth citizens resident in Barbados for the relevant qualifying period, who are also claiming a right to be registered as voters under the Barbadian laws.
The CCJ is Barbados’ top court
Costs for the CCJ proceedings, and the hearings in the courts below, were awarded to Ventose.
The appeal was determined by the President of the CCJ and Justices Saunders, Hayton, Anderson and Barrow. Ventose was represented by Elliot Mottley QC, Leslie F. Haynes QC, Faye F Finisterre, Kashkha Mottley and Nicholas Jackman, while the Chief Electoral Officer was represented by Jennifer Edwards QC, Solicitor General.
The Court will provide the full reasons for its decision on the CCJ’s website later this week.