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Posted: Monday 6 August, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Federal and Local Governments promoting criminal enterprise…says Mark Brantley

The Hon. Mark Brantley
By: Terresa McCall,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, has opined that the Federal and Local Governments are “promoting a criminal enterprise” by allowing the law of the Federation’s electoral system and process to be flouted.


    Brantley – who also wears the cap of Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the Federal Parliament – recently gave an exclusive and impassioned interview to this media house during which he explained that – particularly over the past couple of years – a number of injustices and illegalities have been committed by specific functionaries without punishment by the powers that be.


    He spoke specifically of the fact that revised monthly lists – which the law mandates should be made public – are not being published.


    “We just had an electoral petition here in Nevis where the judge - Mr. Justice Jones - was very harsh on these two functionaries (Supervisor of Elections Leroy Benjamin and Registration Officer Bernadette Lawrence). The Prime Minister and the powers that be have refused to remove him. They remained in that position, notwithstanding the very harsh criticisms that the judge levelled at them for their actions.


    “Now, one would have thought they are given a second chance…they would at least start to conduct themselves properly, but they continue in the same vein like nothing happened. So the same breaches of the law they continue to revel in. Up to now we still do not have any revived monthly list mandated law being published. That was a big aspect of the case that we had and today he still isn’t publishing them! So, where are we going?”


    Further explaining his stance, Brantley said breaches of the electoral law, which are challenged, somehow place taxpayers at a disadvantage because they have to pay a salary to those who breach the law and still foot the bill to defend them when a court case is brought.


    “The law is clear. The law says you must do this (and) the Supervisor, who is charged with upholding the law, refuses…and we now have to spend money and go to court. The nation has to spend money to go to court because the Attorney General’s Office was there…I guess representing him. So the taxpayers have to pay lawyers for him, pay him…and the poor litigants have to find money to pay lawyers to go to court to do what? To get him to do his job! It’s ridiculous! I shouldn’t have to ask people to do what they are being paid to do.


    “…What happened to the Supervisor getting a letter and saying yes this is correct, let me respond and tell the people these decisions would be provided within seven days? But no, you have to go to a court to tell him what he already knows. It cannot be right!”
    Brantley suggested that the powers that be – by either their refusal to make right that which is wrong or by castigating those who seek to make things right or by praising those who do wrong – are promoting a criminal enterprise insofar as the electoral system is concerned.


    “And you heard the Prime Minister’s response to the judge’s harsh criticism of these people and how flagrantly they behaved. He said the judge isn’t God. So what does that tell you?


    “The Premier has recently praised Bernadette Lawrence and said she did nothing wrong. So the judge said she did something wrong and the Premier said she did nothing wrong and she ought to be praised. These individuals are operating with complete immunity and complete impunity. Their approach is …‘we couldn’t care less what the law says, what anybody says’.


    “Hensley Daniel recently attacked Justice Jones in the worst way and, when challenged about it, he came back and he attacked him again and said he stands by what he said…That is what it happening in our society…it is nothing less than a criminal enterprise. The reality is that they are doing it with impunity, because they are saying there is no recompense.”


    THE CCM Deputy Head said it is evident that these wrongs are being allowed to take place because they are to the benefit of those in authority.


    “Obviously, they are serving a particular political agenda and those currently in office like it so because these people serve their agenda. The judge – let us remember, Justice Jones – found as a matter of fact that Bernadette Lawrence’s actions were designed to assist the NRP and did benefit the NRP in the last election. So the NRP is not going to ask for Bernadette Lawrence to resign; they are not going to have any problem with Bernadette Lawrence. So, where do we go from here? It is like saying these are criminals but they are our criminals, so their criminality is okay.


    “Why wait for a judge to tell you the obvious? But that is what is happening and it will continue to happen. I am sorry to say that, but it will continue to happen because the Prime Minister likes it so and Minister responsible for Elections, the Premier, likes it so. And as the judge said, all that was done was done to benefit the NRP, so we are not going to get any criticisms from them. People have no respect for the law, no respect for the courts and those in authority continue to do wrong and, rather than be reprimanded for their wrong doing, they are celebrated.”


    In delivering his judgment following the election petition case tried in January 2012, Brantley noted that Justice Jones described Lawrence’s and Benjamin’s actions as constituting reckless disregard for the rights of voters and that Lawrence engaged in deliberate disenfranchisement of voters.


    “When a judge - who has no interest and is independent - makes these kinds of statements and says these kinds of things, automatically the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Premier – if they are interested in law and order – would have said this is not the kind of thing we want for our system. But they don’t respond like that.


    “So how do we improve as a society? And is the frustration that I feel…because I simply don’t understand how those in authority appear – on the evidence – to be cuddling and promoting what I consider a criminal enterprise insofar as the electoral process is concerned. And why? Because it benefits them…they enjoy the spoils of it…”


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