13 April 2006

Dominica: More on the Dissolution of the Carib Council

According to an item posted by the Dominica Broadcasting Service on Dominica's news website at http://www.news-dominica.com/flashnews/datelistqry.cfm, dated 12 April 2006, the Government of Dominica has also announced the cancellation of elections for the Carib Council:

"Govt. have announced that there will be no new elections for the Carib Council. This after previously saying there would be elections after Carnival. There has been a long-standing dispute within the Council. Source: DBS Radio."

While the legality, not to mention the necessity, in making such a decision is open to question, we are at least able to address a question posed in an earlier post concerning the legality of the Government's dissolution of the Carib Council (ref: http://cacreview.blogspot.com/2006/04/dominica-government-overthrows-carib.html).

The following extract from the Carib Reserve Act of 1978 was provided by Arthur Einhorn:


(1) If the Council in the judgement of the Minister, persistently makes default in the performance of the duties by law imposed upon it, or exceed or abuse powers, it shall be lawful for the Minister, by an order published in the Gazette, to dissolve such Council.

(2) In the case of such dissolution, the following consequences shall ensue----

(a) all members of the Council shall, from the date of such order, vacate their offices as such members;

(b) all the powers and duties of the Council shall, until the constitution of a new Council under this Act, be exercised and performed by such person or persons as the Minister may appoint in that behalf, and any payment made to such person or persons for his or their services shall be a charge upon the Reserve fund;

(c) all property vested in the Council shall, during the period aforesaid, vest in the person or persons aforesaid until the constitution of a new Council, whereupon all such property shall again become vested in the Council.

(3) No order for dissolution as aforesaid shall be valid unless in such order provision is made for the constitution under this Act of a new Council in lieu of the Council so dissolved within a period not exceeding four weeks from the date of such order.

Item 92

In the case of the dissolution of the Council under the last preceeding section the Minister may appoint a collector of rates (local taxes), who shall have all the powers and dutie conferred and imposed by this Act upon the Council or the Clerk.

Another site, http://da-academy.org/caribhist.html#legal, has posted a summary of the main points of the Carib Reserve Act, amongst these are the following:
  • The Carib chief holds office for approximately 5 years unless he or she resigns of his or her own accord or is removed from office.
  • The Chief may be removed from office before his or her term comes to an end, if (a) he or she steals property which comes under his or her control because of the office of Chief, (b) he or she is convicted of so doing, (c) the Carib Council has passed a vote of “No confidence” in him or her, (d) he or she becomes a bankrupt, or (e) approximately 5 years have passed since he or she was elected to office.
  • An Acting Chief may be appointed by the Prime Minister based on the advice of the Chief to perform the duties of Chief, when the Office of Chief is vacant or the Chief is out of State or the Chief is unable for one reason or the other to carry out his or her functions.

Of course, without more detailed information concerning the events leading to the dissolution of the Council, it is very difficult to ascertain whether the law was respected, or applied prematurely and heavy-handedly.

The cancellation of elections, as stated in the item above, may prove far more serious.

In either case, it seems clearer that the Carib Council possesses only minimal if not symbolic autonomy.

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