Parliament Threatens to Jail Lawyer and Supreme Court Judge in Environmental Scandal
NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Less than 100 miles from Florida, in the island democracy of the Bahamas, politicians and the police are harassing environmentalists, illegally hacking and publicly releasing their private communications and other confidential information. And, when the Supreme Court ordered several cabinet members to stop violating the conservationists’ constitutional rights, they threatened to jail the judge.
Why are civil rights and the rule of law under attack? As Kennedy explains, some Bahamian officials are allied with one of the island’s worst unregulated developers. [See the full story and a video here: http://www.ecowatch.com/bahamas-nygard-bacon-kennedy-2128498516.html]. He notes that a well-connected billionaire developer who donated millions of dollars to members of Bahama’s government, Canadian apparel manufacturer Peter Nygard expanded the buildings on his private residence by filling Clifton Bay without government permission, damaging its world-famous marine area.
Shortly after a feisty environmental group, Save the Bays, sued Nygard, undercover police raided the home of Nygard’s neighbor, Louis Bacon, a philanthropist who co-founded the Save the Bays. In March, Bahamian cabinet ministers disclosed Save the Bays’ private emails and financial records during an open session of parliament.
Responding to a legal action by Save the Bays, the Bahamian Supreme Court ruled that the ministers had violated the environmentalists’ constitutional rights to privacy. But instead of backing down, the ministers doubled down. They appealed the ruling, arguing that parliamentary privilege trumped personal rights to privacy, and that the Supreme Court lacked power to enforce the constitution against parliament. The ministers have launched a process to hold the lawyer who argued the case and the judge who decided against them in contempt of parliament.
The developer-friendly cabinet ministers are attacking the rule of law, stomping on privacy rights, and savaging judges, lawyers and environmental and human rights organizations, Kennedy’s story says, adding: It is time for level-headed leaders in the Bahamas to step in and fix this fiasco before permanent damage is done to the country’s natural environment and international reputation as a scenic destination and secure financial haven.