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Ag Seeks Axe For African Lawyers

ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder. BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna

ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder. BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder said he has requested the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to terminate the contracts of two non-Bahamian lawyers who were appointed to senior posts in the Department of Public Prosecutions under the former administration.

 Controversy surrounding the hiring of the two foreign attorneys was recently reignited after a Supreme Court judge ruled in October that a rape accused’s voluntary bill of indictment was invalid as it was signed by African prosecutor, David Bakininga, who was denied practice at the Bahamas Bar.

 The ruling could potentially impact “160 odd cases”, the Court of Appeal was told last week.

 Mr Bakibinga, a Ugandan, was hired as assistant director of public prosecutions along with Nigerian Nikiruka Jones-Nebo, deputy director of public prosecutions, in 2019.

 However, neither of the African prosecutors have been approved by the Bahamas Bar Association to practice at the Bahamas Bar.

 Yesterday, Mr Pinder suggested the former government erred when appointing the two to senior posts, noting that Bahamians could have easily filled the roles.

 “First and foremost, I have no brief against them personally, there is nothing to indicate that they are bad persons or are not qualified attorneys in their home jurisdiction,” Mr Pinder told senators yesterday.

 “The mischief lies in the decision that there were no Bahamians qualified to be senior prosecutors in the Department of Public Prosecutions, despite the director being Bahamian and scores of senior and qualified Bahamian lawyers who have gone through the Department of Public Prosecutions and who are currently either at the department or at the Office of the Attorney General. In fact, many of the justices currently sitting have experience being prosecutors in the Department of Public Prosecutions.

 “I want to be clear on our philosophy as the PLP, it has been our philosophy since the party was formed, we in the PLP believe that Bahamians are qualified, Bahamians are smart and Bahamians can hold positions throughout the government and the country.”

 Despite Bahamians being qualified for the senior positions, Mr Pinder said the Minnis administration still went on to extend the contracts for the two Africans, a decision he said was “flawed” and reflective of their attitudes towards ordinary Bahamians.

 He said: “The former Attorney General, knowing the controversy, knowing the lawyers in question were unable to be called to the Bahamian Bar, knowing the position of the Bar Council and, I may say, the profession, knowing that their actions were subject to judicial review, extended their contracts just a few months ago for another two years. This decision-making process is clearly flawed and an indictment of the attitude of the former administration towards Bahamians.”

 As a result, the AG said he has requested the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to terminate the men’s contracts.

 And in view of the incident, Mr Pinder also revealed his plans to restructure the public prosecutions department to ensure that those hired are not only qualified, but given the recognition they deserve.

 He said: “Madam President, I, as the sitting Attorney General have requested of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to terminate these contracts, again not because I have a brief against the individuals and their competency in their home jurisdiction, but because of the circumstances, the Bahamian people are not getting value for dollar.

  “I have also embarked on a reorganisation exercise of the Department of Public Prosecutions where qualified Bahamian prosecutors will be elevated throughout the department to be able to more effectively prosecute trials, this includes Bahamian prosecutors being recommended for the deputy director of prosecutions and assistant director of prosecutions, the two positions held by the lawyers in question,” the minister added.

 Yesterday, Mr Pinder also went on to speak about his priorities while in office, noting plans to construct a new “state of the art” court complex and enact legislation “that will enable the lawful exploitation of the cannabis industry” among other things.

 He said: “The Governor General rightfully proclaimed that our government is committed to executing good governance, established on the principles of transparency, integrity and accountability. As such, the Office of the Attorney General is committed to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. We are in the process of relocating the FOI into a suitable location where the mandate of the legislation can be properly fulfilled.

 “Madam President, this seems like a minor step, but if you would see the location in which they are trying to operate, there’s no way anything could be accomplished in those types of facilities. As part of the implementation process, ten entities, government agencies have been identified as part of the pilot programme of the rollout of the Freedom of Information.

 “Madam President, we are committed to implementing this as an example of transparency and good governance consistent with the charge given in the Speech from the Throne,” Mr Pinder added.

Comments

bahamianson 2 months, 1 week ago

heads should roll for this. How can you renew a contract to someone whom can't work in the country. every case he or they oversaw will be called into question, and we the tax payers, must foot the bill. If politicians were spending their own money, they would not be so nonchalant.

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

Ryan Pinder must have just gotten off the Spanish Wells ferry. This predicament is prevalent throughout the country and especially in the blue-collar domestic workers' segment of the economy which has been allowed to become overwhelmingly dominated by ex-pats.

“The real mischief" lies in the decision that there were no Bahamians qualified to be housekeepers, gardeners, cooks, painters, and space cleaners resulting in 40,000 ex-pats displacing Bahamians for those jobs and forcing our people into begging and lives of crime trying to make ends meet!

John Pinder was on the right track just prior to COVID-19 disruption in identifying and removing unnecessary ex-pat workers.

If the PLP is truly interested in bringing down crime they need to start with solving the huge unemployment problem and put our people back to work!

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ohdrap4 2 months, 1 week ago

It is not that there are no bahamians qualified. It is that the employers state that no one replied to the job ad.

Usually because the maid must speak 5 languages and live in.

Bahamians do not want to live in. Understandably as you end up "on call" and only get one day off.

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

NOT TRUE! Firstly, these racist foreign and Bahamian employers hire an ex-pat FIRST then advertise with the ex-pats qualifications, knowing that no Bahamian or anyone else could apply without having the same qualifications as the ex-pat!

Employers should be made to "PROVE WHY THEY NEED" a maid with 5 languages and whatever else. Why the hell would anyone need a maid that speaks 5 languages in an English-speaking country to clean and make beds? Plenty of these ex-pat maids don't even speak a word of english!

Bahamians are all over the archipelago on islands and cays "living in" with "NO DAY OFF FOR WEEKS ON END" so finding someone to live in locally is no problem. Your argument is the typical go-to cop-out non-starter.

The government needs to stop standing around talking bullshyt in the peoples' House and do what needs to be done to train our people for these blue-collar jobs and get rid of all non-essential blue-collar, white-collar, and no-collar, ex-pat employees that are displacing Bahamians in the jobs market!

Filipinos pay $250.00 for 4 weeks of domestic training sponsored by their government which qualifies them to go abroad as a domestic worker. Why can't the Bahamas government implement the same strategy for our people?

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Proguing 2 months, 1 week ago

Please explain the rationale for hiring an expat instead of a Bahamian when work permit fees can run as high as $15,000 per year, you have to pay their plane tickets and other perks?

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

The ex-pat will work for the same wage or even less than a Bahamian, however, the ex-pat will gladly be a butler, housemaid, yardman, babysitter, cook, and especially spineless, brown-nosing, ass kisser!

Ex-pats domestic workers are from countries like the Philippines where the average income is $250.00 per month. So earning $250.00 weekly in the Bahamas AND living in to them is BETTER than dying and going to heaven.

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FrustratedBusinessman 2 months, 1 week ago

Filipinos aren't typically referred to as "ex-pats". Ex-pat is usually used to refer to wealthier foreign individuals (think Americans, Canadians) that reside here, usually for tax purposes as most countries have a residency based income tax system. What you describe would probably be better referred to as migrant workers.

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GodSpeed 2 months, 1 week ago

Can't find local lawyers to fill these posts?

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

This entire problem was created by the Bahamas Bar Association's failure to allow these African lawyers to be called to the 'Bahamian' Bar.

We now have a small minded Bar Association much more interested in protecting the turf of its own many incompetent Bahamian members no matter what the costs may be for the Bahamian people. And Ryan Pinder is obviously one who knows his own legal career needs as much protection from foreign lawyers as it can possibly get. He's never been known to be one of the brighter crayons in the crayon box of Bahamian lawyers. LOL

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Proguing 2 months, 1 week ago

Exactly this is protectionism at its worse. The Bahamas is the only financial centre in the world where foreign attorneys are not allowed to practice. Only in the Bahamas!

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thephoenix562 2 months, 1 week ago

I hope Bahamians who are working all over this planet aren't treated like this including my three children legally in Canada and the United States.

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Kofi 2 months, 1 week ago

The AG can 'direct' the legal services commission to do or not do something? If that is the case, what is the point of the commission?

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realfreethinker 2 months, 1 week ago

This is rank interference by Ryan Pinder. I thought the commission was suppose to be independent. He should be made to resign for such a breach.

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