Bar Association calls for ‘open’ process


Tribune Senior Reporter

THE Bahamas Bar Association said the process that led to the country’s latest judicial appointment was a missed chance for the government to show its commitment to the rule of law.

Former Supreme Court Justice Carolita Bethel was confirmed to the Court of Appeal last week Thursday.

Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis came out against the appointment over the weekend and called for a fairer and more transparent process for judicial appointments.

Judicial appointments should be based on clearly defined criteria and a public process that ensures equal opportunity for all eligible people and merit, the association said, adding: “The Bahamas Bar Association continues its call for an open, fair, transparent, and meritocratic system of judicial appointment.”

The statement continued: “The independence of the judiciary cannot be secured solely by security of tenure and protection of remuneration, but is equally to be ensured, and preserved, by transparency and fairness in the appointment process. We are all entitled to fully understand the process by which one secures appointment to the judiciary and it is incumbent upon the government to demonstrate, and the bar and bench to insist, that this process is open, fair, transparent and meritocratic. Failure to ensure such a process leaves the entire justice system vulnerable.”

“We lament the failure to embrace another opportunity to demonstrate our national commitment to the rule of law. It costs the government nothing to ensure that judicial appointments are made following an open, fair, transparent and meritocratic process, whereas the continued failure to do so serves only to undermine the very constitutional arrangements by which such critical decisions are taken. Judicial appointments ought to be made transparently and fairly to ensure that the independence of the Judiciary, the third co-equal branch of our Government, is not undermined by arbitrary political considerations.”

The statement said: “It is constitutionally anticipated, and reasonably expected, that empowered persons or bodies would seek and secure sound advice regarding judicial appointments. Modern liberal democratic principles require that the advice taken in these circumstances will be sought and secured as part of an open, fair, transparent and meritocratic process.”

“A candidate for judicial office is not diminished by open, fair, and transparent competition. Whereas insistence upon an appointment process that does not demonstrate these values represents a continued betrayal of public trust. It is no answer to calls for an improved process to recite the relevant constitutional provisions, for the Constitution stands as no impediment to the implementation thereof.”