Lester Mortimer Questions The Legality Of FNM Government’s Actions
Are we no longer governed by the rule of law?
1. How is it that we permit the police to invite suspected persons to their office on the pretext of questioning them about a matter, only to detain the person all day and then make them languish one night in a police cell? In the morning they then transport the accused to court in a humiliating fashion, notwithstanding the fact that the person is not charged with a violent crime nor is he a flight risk? Maybe the law has changed, but I do not recall when it became a requirement to subject oneself to police questioning before being charged. What happened to the presumption of innocence?
2. As noted in my last epistle to the press, the registrar general has made an unlawful demand to all non-profit organizations by requesting them to submit certain information to her department and terrorizing the non-profits with the threat of a $10,000 fine based on ultra vires regulations. Has she not read the Companies Act?
3.Now comes along the treasurer, who is requiring all public servants, including judges and magistrates, to verify their existence. It must be remembered that judges are provided security of tenure under our constitution which entails that their salary cannot be reduced while they serve in office. If the treasurer does not know the judges of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Courts then she should resign from her position as treasurer. How is it she does not know the members of the House of Assembly and the Senate? For that matter, she does not appear to know the governor general, who is also required to verify her existence. She cannot be that ignorant or stupid. Or is she?
For my part, I would be very surprised if any judge of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court or magistrate’s courts would dignify the treasurer’s request by attending the verification center. If any of the foregoing were to attend to verify themselves I would consider it an abandonment of his or her independence, and he or she should resign their office. Similarly, the same, in my view, would apply to counsel and attorneys in the Office of The Attorney General, who are appointed by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission and subject to discipline by that commission.
What has happened to the checks and balances that govern the public service, and why should the heads of department and permanent secretaries not be held to account for the personnel in their departments, and who are receiving a pay check from the Public Treasury?
Are we so dysfunctional that the departments responsible for overseeing the expenditure of public funds are no longer performing their duties? What has happened to the Internal Audit Department that was required to be established under the Financial Administration and Audit Act?
God help us, because some of us in authority know not what they do.
– Lester J. Mortimer, Jr, QC