Magistrates 'turned into robots'

By KHRISNA VIRGIL A FORMER member of parliament and staunch FNM supporter said magistrates have become government entities who do not have the authority to act independently. In remarks to Eugene Dupuch Law School students, J Henry Bostwick QC said that "magistrates have been turned into robots - no less. Robots armed with swords and no compassion. Indeed with no minds of their own". According to the former Senate president, while magistrates are creatures of statute, they have been commanded by legislative order to impose mandatory excessive sentences without applying any of their own discretion. Moving forward, Mr Bostwick urged public law practitioners to take up the cause and continue to fight for what is duly right. "I invited them to be more proactive in their plight to enforce right doing through the judicial system," he said. Today's Bar, said Mr Bostwick, lacks public law practitioners "who dare to hold the fort of judicial review thereby allowing our Westminster system to function as intended". "We are duty bound to ensure the rights, care and benefit of the citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas," he said. "This must always be the primary concern." Alluding to the saturation of society by leaders who are lawyers, Mr Bostwick said it is inevitable for them to be major players in the judiciary. "It is not surprising that politics seems to gobble up lawyers - the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly." He said lawyers of all ages should head every movement for societal change as they are the ones who understand the significance of laws. "Law is one of those tools used in facilitating and encouraging, if not mandating, necessary change." Mr Bostwick also pinpointed the general perception by the public of lawyers acting in parliament passing laws to benefit their personal interests. He said they must put every effort forward to diminish such untruths. "We often hear accusations to the effect that they pass laws for which they themselves benefit solely because they are lawyers. "In other words, many people are of the belief that lawyer/politicians pass legislation not for the common good, but in self-interest. However untrue are such notions, the perception is there."


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