The Right to Counsel

allegation from an attorney, Mr Mohia Ma’at a who complained that he had been made to spend at least two hours in a police station waiting to see a client

“…allegation from an attorney, Mr Mohia Ma’at a who complained that he had been made to spend at least two hours in a police station waiting to see a client.”

It seems fitting with the passing with Amused we should feature today’ Barbados Advocate editorial (23/12/2016) – Barbados Underground

The acting Commissioner of the Royal Barbados Police Force has recently had cause to remind his officers that the organization does not condone denying lawyers access to clients held in custody. He might also have told them that this is not at all an attorney right exclusively, as might appear from his quoted statement, but also a guaranteed constitutional right of the accused client who is in custody.

According to section 13 (2) of the Barbados Constitution:

Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed as soon as reasonably practicable, in a language that he understands, of the reasons for his arrest or detention and shall be permitted, at his own expense, to retain and instruct without delay a legal adviser of his own choice, being a person entitled to practise in Barbados as an attorney-at-law, and to hold private communication with him; and in the case of a person who has not attained the age of sixteen years he shall also be afforded a reasonable opportunity for communication with his parent or guardian.

The Commissioner’s reminder came in response to an allegation from an attorney, Mr Mohia Ma’at who complained that he had been made to spend at least two hours in a police station waiting to see a client “assisting the police with their investigations” into a charge of murder, but was never afforded the opportunity to do so.

The content of this right to legal representation was examined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1991 in the case of The Attorney General of Trinidad & Tobago v Wayne Whiteman. In that case, the Board was called upon to determine as a preliminary point of law, whether a person, upon arrest and detention by the police, had a constitutional right to retain and instruct without delay a legal adviser of his or her choice and to hold communication with him; an issue that had been answered in the negative by the judge at first instance.

The Committee, in a unanimous judgment, decided that the express provisions off the 1976 Constitution of Trinidad & Tobago did indeed protect those rights of the detained individual. Further, that the obligation of the state “not to deprive a person of the right to such procedural provisions as are necessary for the purpose of giving effect to those rights”, a provision not present in the Barbadian constitutional text, entailed a requirement that provision be made for informing the arrested and detained person of that that right.

Their Lordships went on to endorse the statement of one of the judges in the Court of Appeal that “I am not prepared to lay down any general rule as to the precise point in time when a person in custody ought to be informed of this right, [but it should be] as early as possible, and in any event before any ‘in-custody interrogation’ takes place.’’

And they suggested:“…it is incumbent upon police officers to see that the arrested person is informed of his right in such a way that he understands it. He may be illiterate, deaf, or unfamiliar with the language. It is plain that the mere exhibition of notices in the police station is insufficient in itself to convey the necessary information.”

Given the clear statement of the Caribbean Court of Justice that it is prepared to follow decisions of the Judicial Committee unless persuaded to the contrary and the obligation of the state to give substance to the guaranteed rights, this decision should serve as an instruction to our police officers if the constitutional right of the citizen is to be upheld.

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19 Comments on “The Right to Counsel”

  1. Pachamama December 23, 2016 at 6:39 PM #

    Good.

    But what about police beatings and forced confessions (90%)

    Like

  2. David December 23, 2016 at 6:47 PM #

    For eons we were promised that evidence sessions would have been recorded however the physical infrastructure we have been told can only support it at a few courts. Where are we with this promise?

    Like

  3. bajans December 23, 2016 at 6:47 PM #

    David, what do you mean by the passing ‘with Amused”. Are you saying he is no longer with the living?

    Like

  4. David December 23, 2016 at 6:50 PM #

    @bajans

    Yes, see the blog below.

    Like

  5. de pedantic Dribbler December 23, 2016 at 7:03 PM #

    David if the gentleman was denied his right to counsel as described then one expects that the attorney would move to have any and all info recorded from his client after said denial struck from any evidence aginst his client.

    Probably more easily said that done in a Bajan court system but vagabond police behavior must be arrested just as vigorously as that of the other vagabonds in the system…unless there were serious mitigating circumstances preventing the lawyer from seeing his client.

    Maybe he was too bloodied and bloated from blows at the time.

    I concur with the wise one above, so did the CoP ag. also prepare a memo on how to minimize the visual effects of a Bajan interrogation!

    Like

  6. David December 23, 2016 at 7:07 PM #

    @dee word

    The other serious issue though tangential is the hanging court case which has prevented promotions in the police force.

    Now that is justice.

    If our grinding wheels of justice can affect -compromise- the working of the police force who is the ordinary man.

    Like

  7. David December 23, 2016 at 7:14 PM #

    Some local talent who operate from Bush Hill sharing an opinion or two. Beware of the profanity. Did she break any laws?

    Like

  8. Well Well & Consequences December 23, 2016 at 7:23 PM #

    A product of her environment, a manifestation of the hypocrisy, pretentiousness and dirty secrets destroying the bakjan society.

    A pussy = a cat
    A c*nt, like all the government ministers and authorities = a rabbit

    I have seen all those same cuss words on facebook many times..lol

    Like

  9. Well Well & Consequences December 23, 2016 at 8:27 PM #

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/91687/matters-maria-flood-warning

    Finally, after the BU, more national attention for the atrocity committed against Mr. Blackman, someone should be held accountable.

    Like

  10. David December 23, 2016 at 10:48 PM #

    Spoke too soon.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/91717/police-promotions-thrown >

    Like

  11. de pedantic Dribbler December 24, 2016 at 7:42 AM #

    @David December 23, 2016 at 7:14 PM re “Some local talent who operate from Bush Hill sharing an opinion or two. Beware of the profanity. Did she break any laws?”

    LOLL. The only law is a breach of common-sense; of course that is a very sacred personal law.

    Based on the new Trump University marketing materials the lady should see an uptick in sales from her voting constituents! Boost your product with pride and defiance.

    I saw this video shortly after viewing another attractive enough lady displaying another type of absurd stupidity.

    In that case the lady was relaxing in her bikini at some resort and was asked to name the fourth child of Mary’s father; she was given the other names as Jacob, John and Joseph…or some such.

    For the entire length of the video as also shown above the lady was abjectly ignorant…and it was no joke seemingly. She honestly – so dumbfounded she appeared – could not say ‘Mary’.

    Ignorance comes in difference guises. Life!

    Like

  12. Dompey December 24, 2016 at 7:54 AM #

    It goes to show how antiquated the judicial system is in Barbados when we have law enforcement offices arresting people and failing to inform them of their basic right. But why is the acting commissioner of police so concerned with this injustice? Hasn’t this not been a common practice of the RBPF? Peter Brashaw, in his very statement alleged that members of ciminal investigation division (CID), held him for days, and drove him around the island, and beat him, while shocking his testicle with raw electric wire before formerly charging him. And this abused at the hands of the police was the very reason Peter Brashaw escaped the hangman!

    Like

  13. Vincent Haynes December 24, 2016 at 8:23 AM #

    Bush Hill entrepreneurs should be offered proper accomadations with police protection,legal aid and medical supervision like what happens in our neighbouring island of Curacao.

    Campo Alegre Adult Club: F.A.Q.
    http://www.campoalegresex.com/faq.php
    Campo Alegre is a legendary adult resort on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. It is an exotic, erotic and exciting place where dreams come true. 2. How big is the …

    Like

  14. Well Well & Consequences December 24, 2016 at 9:51 AM #

    They still prefer keep Bush Hill a deep dirty secret, while from parliament to the hole in the ground, including the tourists visits the area, no regulation in their minds means it does not exist….just like no regulation of tourists and others riding jetskis wilynilly…tragedy is bound to happen when ya live in the dark ages.

    I remember mentioning Bush Hill on here a year or 2 ago and everyone was so shocked that such a place existed, even the saintly Bushman, they acted like I was from Mars and brought Bush Hill with me, I have never been there, but i bet many who were shocked it existed are regular clientele…lol

    Like

  15. de pedantic Dribbler December 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM #

    @Dompey December 24, 2016 at 7:54 AM re “It goes to show how antiquated the judicial system is in Barbados when we have law enforcement offices arresting people and failing to inform them of their basic right. ”

    Don’t mek me laugh more this eve day. The system itself does not deny anyone their basic rights. It is your vagabond police friends…the same ones yo regaled us about from your days outside Dist A; or the Starkys and others you got to know later.

    Lots of very decent police officers too fah sure so don’t play that blame game so blithely.

    And by the way police the world over play those same games in trying to squeeze info before the legal rights are initiated. Wha hell… they may still be some fellows being renditoned around the world and getting their ‘testicle’ squeezed.

    Oh wait…forgot they dun wid dat. Dem all in de resort in Cuba now.

    @Vincent, come on bro Campe Alegre and Bush Hill…whoooa. When did the Bajan gov’t ever suggest that they will legalize the sex industry!

    Fah sure, you would generate some excellent economic churn if there was any Alegre type connection with the Garrison considering the large swath of virile young men accommodated close by.

    But consider all the other problems in numerous homes that would be caused when those young men start throwing their money towards the ” exotic, erotic and exciting place where dreams come true.”

    Like

  16. Sargeant December 24, 2016 at 11:44 AM #

    Vincent Haynes
    Yours @8.23am

    You naughty boy! Go and wash your mouth out with soap this minute, tsk tsk imagine your suggesting such an abomination. If this is picked up by anyone the folks in the pulpit would have enough ammunition for two years of sermons and the holier than thou politicians would go berserk.

    Not surprised about Curacao aren’t they part of the Netherlands? I remember walking the streets of Amsterdam and viewing the merchandise in the windows when a comely wench walked by only to disappear through an anonymous door we all looked at each other and thought she can’t be a working can she? She looked just like someone who you would take home to mum anyway if the notion of topless beaches almost brought Barbados to a standstill what would legalized prostitution do?

    BTW that website is down, I would like to peruse it (for education reasons of course) what were you thinking?

    Like

  17. Anonymouse - TheGazer December 24, 2016 at 12:16 PM #

    @DPD

    If someone asked me who was the fourth daughter of Mary’s father, I would not know. I would probably making a guess that it was Mary and if I was correct that would not make me any smarter or dumber than I am.

    Perhaps the young girl thought of Mary, but decided that would have made the question a silly one.

    Like

  18. Vincent Haynes December 24, 2016 at 2:55 PM #

    de pedantic Dribbler December 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM #

    My point exactly….legalise brothel establishments on the island like all the dutch territories in the Caribbean,these institutions will be police protected,have access to legal aid and medical services….brothels will be the only entity where one can purchase sex making the bush hills illegal and at the same time govt will collect Taxes,VAT and NIS.

    I was born and bred in Curacao and was looking forward to my 13th birthday when I was told by the brothers of my older classmates that their Dads used to carry them to be initiated in the beauty of sex…….my older brother to this day refuses to say if he went and alas I came to Bim to school before my 13th to meet up with the puritan hypocritical likes of Bush Tea and others here at Cawmere.

    Legalising sex demystifies and makes it natural and wholesome with some wives quite happy to rid themselves of such chores…..its a win win situation…..think about it.

    The Nederlande and its colonies have been doing it for over 50 years.

    Like

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