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Where next to find justice?

SOS! There is an urgent need to have put forward a few direct questions that have real-time significance and are of national importance.

Called into question: the Commission of Inquiry into Historical Losses of Land

What must one do in Bermuda to attain justice or even relief, if everyone from the very head of our judicial framework, the Crown, on down to the Chief Justice, to the Commissioner of Police, to the Registrar of the courts and the court reception, fail to respond in a timely matter?

Oh. But then after eight weeks and, having engaged the Ombudsman and Government House, something trickles. Is there a "deep state" within the judiciary?

I was shocked to hear and see on a live broadcast my name being called under oath, with someone swearing as true statements that were untrue and defamatory in content, which again were insulting to the integrity of the family and, indeed, would have ancestors rolling in their graves.

Then the Commission of Inquiry because of its own internal confusion was saying live that I was attempting to represent Case No 39 when mine was Case No 51 with different evidence, narrative and facts. I asked for a retraction and an apology, neither of which I received. So I reported the matter instantly to the Commissioner of Police, and now, eight weeks and counting, there is not even a notice of receipt.

Before that broadcast, we had sought leave for a judicial review on the remit of the CoI, which we believe as ultra vires. At present, the CoI prevents a significant portion of the historical land and property losses from being addressed. They do so by suffocating the remit; reinterpreting its limitations on who can be brought to account shielding the major financial institutions, claiming they fall outside their remit. Well, That's not what was gazetted when they went to the public, inviting submissions; it was open then with no limitations.

The worst part, personally, was being pinned in a seat without the means of redressing misinformation and defamation constantly spewed on a public broadcast because the relevant bodies have now dismissed my case without investigating it, and have prevented a fuller account of the particular property in Southampton.

The next question is, what do we call countries where the issue of justice is unavailable to the populations? Where treachery, slander and every caprice or injury has free reign over the citizenry? A country where one can be victimised, and such crimes systemically escape the oversight of the law and lawful bodies entrusted with that responsibility? I think the world of civilised governance refers to those countries where justice is arbitrary as tyrannies.

The two world wars were said to have been fought for the cause of freedom where “the rule of law” was to be established, and where society was to be made free from the tyranny of oppressive regimes. Freedom was meant to be established as a fundamental principle for society as of 1945. To add credence to that point, in the preamble of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, you will read “Whereas it is essential if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law ...” Now that is the universal position also echoed in the United States’ preamble to its Declaration of Independence.

Locally, we have our own glorious words. For example, on page 2 of the Pati Information Statement regarding the judiciary, the report says: “Its task is to adjudicate charges of criminal conduct, resolve disputes, uphold the rights and freedoms of the individual and preserve the rule of law. The mandate of the judiciary is to carry out its task fairly, justly and expeditiously, and to abide by the requirements of the judicial oath ‛to do right by all manner of people, without fear or favour, or affection or ill will’.”

Those words written as guiding principles of the judiciary are enough to inform the public, and indeed the world, that Bermuda was meaning business in the area of upholding justice. The only item missing is the actual application by all the persons and bodies incorporated that constitute the arms and legs of the judiciary, without whose action, the words are as dead ink on paper — or, worse, a self-serving judiciary controlled by some form of judicial hierarchy.

Attempting earnestly to follow the constitutional mandate is to be expected and the spirit by which all the various judicial departments should respond to matters. Sadly, they don't and are seemingly selective about what and who they do adjudicate. It has been alleged by many reputable persons that Bermuda’s judiciary operates more like a fraternity than a body established to adjudicate for the public welfare, fairly without affection, ill will or favour. This case has the scent of that.

Unfortunately, after witnessing a wholesale breakdown and malfunction of every principle of its mandate, which constitutes a breach of oath of the entire judiciary in attempts to get the CoI to do its job at ascertaining the facts, it refuses to investigate with no rational reasons provided. Its abysmal failure provides reason for public distrust.

It is the CoI's modus operandi and its assumed remit that are questionable and possibly ultra vires to the original legislative motion that gave it life and cause. This is why we had to file a judicial review questioning the lawfulness of the CoI as it operates at present. The judicial review was filed more than eight weeks ago and is to date probably unprecedented for the time it has been held up without a response.

Accepted, every complaint launched to the judiciary doesn't gain merit simply because it is launched. However, if a complaint launched is not given the light of a presentation or a hearing to test its efficacy, particularly when filed with the relevant authorities as urgent, that negligence alone is a crime against basic human rights as ascertained by the Constitution, making those responsible within the judiciary as derelict in their duties and behaving as would be the case in regimes that are tyrannies. This is not a trivial matter and cannot be sugar-coated; it is blatantly real.

It's bad enough, given that lawyers are not permitted to take cases on contingency arrangements, that justice is available only to the wealthy, and that, still of late, unless you are declared bankrupt, access to competent legal advice is not available. Further, it has long been the case that the Office of the Ombudsman, with all due respect to the various office-holders, was made near toothless upon conception, it too having glorious words in its preamble but neutered in practice.

How do we continue to present ourselves as a modern civil jurisdiction when we have a judiciary that dodges or shields those matters that potentially implicate significant financial institutions? Nowhere in our preamble does it classify who or what institutions fall under the ambit of the law. Isn't it supposed to be the case that everyone and every company or body is equal under the law? Who, then, are shielding privilege?

So where do we go from here? Do we go to the Overseas Territories department? Do we go the Privy Council? Do we go to the UN? We have exhausted local attention who would rather squash the matter systemically, protect past crimes, and let sleeping dogs lie.

We pay a lot of money to have persons wearing robes, wigs and fancy titles in our judiciary. Can we have at least one dollar back in justice?

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Published April 05, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated April 04, 2021 at 10:35 am)

Where next to find justice?

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