Attorney dismisses threat of lawsuit against Dominica PM

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — An attorney for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday dismissed a threat by an opposition legislator and attorney that he “has the right to institute private criminal proceedings” against the head of government over remarks he made during a national address last Friday.
Joshua Francis in a statement said that Skerrit in his radio and television broadcast last Friday breached the Sexual Offences Act and that media houses may also be “equally culpable”.
The United Workers Party (UWP) legislator said “Skerrit was very irresponsible, reckless and/or grossly negligent and ought to have known better as the head of the executive in the Commonwealth of Dominica” because the legislation “prohibits any matter that is likely to lead members of the public to identify a person as the complainant or as the accused in relation to a charge with an offence under this Act, subject to an exception by operation of law.
Francis, who is among three high profile individuals, including a former government minister embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor, said he has filed a formal complaint with the police.
“The report calls for an investigation into the matter. Should the police department of the Commonwealth of Dominica fail in its constitutional and natural duties to investigate and to act appropriately; the complainant has the right to institute private criminal proceedings against Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Francis said in the statement.
But Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan has dismissed the statement, noting that he is at a loss as to how “a prime minister could possibly disclose something contrary to the Sexual Offences Act when it is public knowledge, both by statements made the executive and leadership of the United Workers Party, by their decision to expel him as deputy leader…and by his own statements that are quoted in newspaper articles  for Mr Joshua Francis to make the allegation that the prime minister has “disclosed anything”.
“I don’t know how you could disclose something that is public knowledge,” Astaphan told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Francis said that under the Sexual Offences Act a person who publishes or broadcast any matter in contravention of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for three years.

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