High Court Judge, Bernie Stephenson, has ordered the parties in the Hector John et al Salisbury Riot matter to file written submissions in response to each other’s oral submissions on or before November 30, 2016 and thereafter the Court shall rule on the matter.
She has also ordered that all submissions are to be filed both on paper and electronically.
Justice Stephenson had granted a stay in the case involving some Salisbury residents who were arrested and charged under the Riot Act of 1897 following protest action in the community in 2015.
Through their lawyer, Cara Shillingford, the residents had filed a constitutional motion challenging the constitutionality of the Riot Act.
On Wednesday, Anthony Astaphan SC, along with Solicitor General Tamika Hyacinth Burton and State attorney Arthlyn Nesty, told the court that the Defendants were on an “exercise in futility” since they should have waited until the matter was determined by the criminal court before filing their motion.
Astaphan said that the Riot Act was in order and since the defendants had broken the law, the police were “right to charge them.”
But in her submissions, lead attorney for the Claimants Cara Shillingford along with Julian Prevost and Ronald Charles told the Court that the Riot Act which was enacted in Dominica in 1897 is not consistent with the values of today’s society and they contravene the provisions of the Dominica Constitution. The British, she said, have since repealed it’s Riot Act since 1973 and it was unfortunate that this “barbaric and archaic law” was still on the books of Dominica.
The defendants Hector John, Hilary John, Thomas Louis and Lennary John were summoned to court after they allegedly took part in protests in the community on May 11 and June 11, 2015.
On the days mentioned, Salisbury was engulfed in disturbances as the police and residents faced off. The first action, on May 11, was in protest of poor farm road conditions in the area.
It was eventually broken up by the police and a second protest, on June 11, took place after the police swooped into the community and arrested six residents on allegations that they were part of the first protest.