(Real News) The Concerned Citizens group has decided to continue its picket of
the Governor-General’s Office for nine more days, bringing its action
to 17 days in total, in recognition and memory of the number of
West Africans “lost” during a boating tragedy in late April.
The group first mounted the action on Tuesday, May 30; and
Thursday, June 8, made eight days since it began, leaving nine more
days to go.
Attorney-at-law Leon Chaku Symister says the Nation must not
forget the 17 souls lost at sea. Therefore, members of the United
Progressive Party (UPP) will remain on the picket line with the
Concerned Citizens, following which other action will be taken.
He asserts that this will not be the usual seven-day or 10-day talk,
but the matter will be carried over the long haul.
Meanwhile, Symister says, the people will not accept that Sir Rodney
Williams – in spite of the Commissions of Inquiry Act – cannot call an
inquiry without the approval of the Cabinet. If they do, then what
will happen when there is clear evidence that the Executive is
involved in wrongdoing, he asks.
He says that neither the Cabinet nor the Parliament will agree to a
public inquiry into the African migrant-smuggling saga or the
Antigua Airways issue, since it would be a case of the Executive
According to Symister, Section 80 of the Constitution speaks to the
governor-general carrying out his duties in accordance with the
advice of the Cabinet. However, he notes that Section 80(1)(a)
speaks to the governor-general exercising his own discretion.
With all the legal opinions Sir Rodney has received from learned
King’s Counsels, both regionally and internationally, Symister notes
that not one has made mention of this section – preferring, instead,
to refer to “convention.”
Symister notes that the Commission of Inquiry Act states that it is
lawful to convene an inquiry where the governor-general thinks it is
advisable – and not when he is advised.
If the Act did not make such provisions, the attorney says, then he
could understand the legal opinions that Sir Rodney has received.
But based on the Constitution and on the relevant Act, the
Concerned Citizens and the UPP hold the opinion that the discretion
to call the inquiry rests with the governor-general.
Should the time come when they see that it is useless to continue
with the governor-general, he adds, then other actions will be
pursued. However, he reaffirms, this matter will not die.
In early May, the United Progressive Party held a Black March and
Candlelight Vigil in St. John’s, memorializing the Africans who
perished at sea trying to reach a US port from Antigua.
Symister says the Party may have to march again, with the meeting
ending up, once more, in front of Government House.
Unless the people stand up today against this type of behaviour, the
attorney concludes, then we are lost.