Injunction claims amendment to Electoral Bill is unconstitutional
Loftus Durand the chairman of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) has vowed to do all in his power to ensure that the government does not progress with its intended plan to amend the Electoral Act of Dominica.
In August 2017, the government's first planned amendment to the House of Assembly(Elections) Act was met with protests outside Parliament and prompted the administration to defer the second and third reading of the proposed amendment to the Bill.
Recently, the Electoral Commission issued a statement indicated that the Commission welcomed the announcement of Government's intention to table before Parliament revised versions of the proposed amendments of the House of Assembly (Elections) Act and the Registration of Electors Act as it pertains to the introduction of the National Identification Card and the registered electors overseas.
"The Electoral Commission is satisfied that the proposed amendments are in the best interest of the democratic process in Dominica," said the Commission.
But the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and CCM were opposed to the proposed amendments. The UWP held a public meeting in Roseau on September 19, 2018 and the CCM took the matter to court through a request for an injunction.
However, one week before the proposed debate of the intended amendment to the Act, Attorney General Levi Peter told the State-owned DBS radio that the government had decided to have further consultation on the proposed amendment before the debate in Parliament.
Filed by attorney at law J. Gildon Richards, the proposed injunction asked the court to place a stay on the Bill for the following reasons.
Richards on behalf of Durand argued that the Bill was likely to contravene the constitution. He contended that the only purpose of the Electoral Commission (EC) was to administer the electoral system and issuing ID cards was not the lawful function of the EC.
Additionally, clauses of the proposed Bill that intended to give authority to the EC to "share biometric information" was also inconsistent with the constitution.
The request for an injunction also contended that the sections of the Bill that allowed officers of the EC to perform their functions overseas "is inconsistent with the terms, spirit and intention of Section 56" of the Constitution.
The court has suspended consideration of the injunction because Government last week postponed the parliamentary debate of the Bill.