By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
WAYNE Munroe, counsel for the marines accused of causing harm to Cuban detainees at the Detention Centre, said yesterday he will apply to the court to stop three independent observers from sitting in on the proceedings.
Mr Munroe’s comments came after National Security Minster Dr Bernard Nottage announced that Madam Justice Cheryl Albury (retired), Commander Leon L Smith (retired) and Rev Dr Ranford Patterson, President of The Bahamas Christian Council, have been appointed as independent observers.
Their duty, according to Dr Nottage, is to observe the conduct of proceedings called by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to address the allegations of assault of Cuban nationals at the Detention Centre.
The National Security Minister previously announced that the proceedings would not be open “as a matter of national security”, but rather the hearings “will be held in camera” and a “full report” of the proceedings will be issued at the conclusion.
Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Munroe said the press should be insulted that they were not trusted enough to be able to cover and report the proceedings fairly.
“If anyone should be allowed in there, it should be the press. Now the public has to rely on second hand information, so I have to check with my clients to see if they are satisfied that is a fair way to proceed. It’s either open or its closed. Nothing personal about the selection, but it can’t be open halfway,” he said.
“So reporters cannot be trusted. The press should consider hiring counsel to move the court to be able to report on the matter. If anyone should be permitted in there it should be the press, if something isn’t closed the press always makes an application to be allowed in. Who chose these three people? We weren’t consulted, there are two parties to everything. It seems as they are saying it’s a closed hearing, but permit some people. Why would The Tribune accept that you can’t be trusted to be in, it’s amazing that you aren’t offended.”
The Tribune has formally applied to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to be allowed to cover the proceedings, but has received no reply. Although Dr Nottage said that all summary trials in connection with the matter were to be held behind closed doors, The Tribune was earlier told by a senior RBDF officer that Commodore Roderick Bowe would consider applications for reporters to attend the hearings.
In a letter faxed to Commodore Bowe on September 31, news editor Paco Nunez, said: “I write to request that a Tribune reporter be allowed to be present at and report on the ongoing proceedings against Defence Force officers alleged to have been involved in the abuse of Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in June of this year.
“We feel the level of attention attracted by the case over the past several months, and its implications for the international image of the Bahamas, have made this a matter of urgent public interest and one in which the Bahamian people have every right to expect transparency and full disclosure.
“To that end, The Tribune hereby formally applies for your permission to publish the full substance of the proceedings until their conclusion for the benefit of our readers.”