High Court to hear application seeking electoral reform, on Monday

A court matter, in which a group of Dominican citizens is seeking to have the upcoming general election deferred, is set to begin at the High Court in Roseau on Monday, December 2nd, 2019.

The president of the electoral reform pressure group, Concerned Citizens Movement, Loftus Durand and other activists have filed an application seeking the deferment in order to have electoral reform implemented before elections can be held.

The respondents include the Electoral Commission, the President of Dominica and the Chief Elections Officer.

In the court documents which have been filed, the group is seeking an injunction restraining the defendants from holding general elections on the 6th of December 2019 or on any date prior to 5th February 2020, unless the procedure for holding elections in the House of Assembly Elections Act has been complied with and the voters list verified and the names of ineligible voters removed.

The group has also joined the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (DBS) radio in the suit.

Meanwhile, the Chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme court Dame Janice Perreria has refused to request from lawyers for the pressure group to have a new judge hear the matter instead of the sitting civil judge Bernie Stephenson.

In its letter, the Chief Justice Perreria the lawyers said “we believe that the appointment of a special non-resident judge to hear [the matter] is necessary because of “its constitutional importance, the recent political climate in Dominica and a real risk of political reprisals against any resident judge who hears and determines this claim.”

The letter goes on to state, “If your Ladyship is not minded to accede to the request, we are asking that this application be assigned to a judge other than resident judge Bernie Stephenson.”

Several reasons were outlined in the letter for the request.
However, the Chief Justice responded through the registrar of the court saying that she sees no need to have a different judge and refused the request.

The matter was set to be heard for directions today, November 29, 2019, at 9 am and the trial is set for Monday, 2nd December 2019, at 9 am.

The former attorney general of Antigua, Justin Simon QC, is leading the group’s lawyers who also include Cara Shillingford, Singoalla Blomqvist-Williams and Elue John Charles.