Legal bid to erase COVID convictions


Tribune Senior Reporter

LAWYER Wayne Munroe is representing 21 people who are suing Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for matters related to the state of emergency and COVID-19 regulations.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday Mr Munroe asked the Supreme Court to make an order quashing the criminal complaints against those people who have been charged and convicted of breaching the Emergency (COVID-19) orders.

The lawsuit calls for an order quashing the conviction of “any plaintiff convicted of breach of the” orders as well as any criminal complaints concerning such people.

It seeks “an order that the fines paid by the plaintiffs convicted of breaches of the Emergency (COVID-19) order and the Emergency (COVID-19 Pandemic) order be returned to the Plaintiffs” and “an order that the defendants do pay damages to the plaintiffs for breach of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.”

The 21 plaintiffs include Charles Johnson, Dave Nixon, Rashanda Miller, Petter Rolle, Jason Rolle, Shivago Davis, Kevin Hutchinson, Ramone Rolle, Phillip Rolle, Fabian Davis, Meia Charlton, Anthony Rolle, Timel Wilson, Kishna Bodie-Williams, Nebat Brent Williams, Glenda Simms, Giovanni Sawyer, Eldon Kelley, Sandra Ferguson, Henry Rolle and Jenson Brown.

“The plaintiffs have all been residents in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas from at least February, A.D., 2020 to the date of this writ,” the lawsuit says. “As a result, they have each been subject to both proclamations of a state of emergency, the extension of both states of emergency, the provisions of both regulations purportedly made pursuant to the Emergency Powers Act and the orders made by the first defendant purportedly pursuant to the regulations.”

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that in the circumstances that existed when the Governor General issued a state of emergency proclamation and when Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency, no state of emergency within the meaning and contemplation of Article 29 of the Constitution existed in The Bahamas.

The lawsuit says “in the circumstances” the emergency regulations made by the Governor General “were made in excess of jurisdiction granted to him by the Emergency Powers Act.”

It further says: “In the circumstances obtaining at the time that all of the orders made by the first defendant, purportedly pursuant to the Emergency (COVID 19) Regulations, 2020, were made, insofar as they purport to create criminal offences, create arrestable offences, or effect private contractual rights, they were ultra vires the Emergency (COVID 19) Regulations, 2020 and/or did not meet the requirement of being reasonably justifiable as set out in Article 29(2) of the constitution.”