Munroe is simply wrong, says AG Bethel

Attorney General Carl Bethel. (File photo)

Attorney General Carl Bethel. (File photo)


Tribune Senior Reporter


ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel said Wayne Munroe, QC, is “plain and simply wrong” with his criticism of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ emergency powers order.

Mr Munroe told a local TV station the order was not well thought out.

“Very early on I have expressed that in my view the emergency regulations are ultra vires the Emergency Powers Act,” he said, adding he will challenge the order when the COVID-19 crisis ends so as to not “add to the confusion”.

“The Emergency Powers Act doesn’t authorise the making of emergency orders for public health reasons,” he said.

“There are other ways that you can abridge constitutional rights for public health reasons not under the Emergency Powers Act. When you look at how they have done this order, the government has decided in its wisdom to act quite unilaterally in a lot of matters. It has not put together a widespread task force where you can have consensus on such a touchy area. None of the legal stuff was sent to the Bar Council for comment. I would have told them the regulations (introduced in Parliament last week) were ultra vires and will cost you a lot of money at the end of the day.”

Mr Bethel, however, said the constitution does not limit why the Governor General might find it necessary to proclaim a national public emergency.

“No Act of Parliament can limit a right or duty to exercise a constitutional power,” Mr Bethel said.

“Having proclaimed an emergency, the Act kicks in. Public safety necessarily includes public health as does national security; and the safety of supplies for (saving) life and well-being clearly applies to this murderous virus, the treatment of which has overwhelmed hospital capacity and medical supplies throughout the world.”

Under the prime minister’s order, establishments, institutions, businesses, offices, stores and organisations will have to suspend operations to the general public. Exemptions include: wholesale or retail grocery stores and farmer’s markets; pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats and wash houses for hygienic purposes from 6am to 5pm; banks from 9am to 5pm; construction companies doing construction work from 6am to 7pm; drive through or take-away food vendors from 6am to 7.30pm, doctors offices, hospitals or medical facilities, medical supply establishments, hotels and airports.

All other establishments, institutions, businesses or offices inclusive of the public service —as may be authorised by the respective permanent secretary — shall work from home. The order states that these places “shall maintain only essential staff for the performance of core functions while adhering at all times to social distancing” of three to six feet. Mass social gatherings are also prohibited.

The order also put in place a national curfew which runs 9pm-5am until March 31.


ThisIsOurs 4 years, 3 months ago

Im going to bet Wayne Munroe is correct and lots of businesses will sue the govt for damages once this is over

I agree with Munroe that they should have consulted. Just look at the number of adjustments they've had to make after the PM'S speed straight up to today.

Now, if they decide that all the mistakes were worth saving lives I can't argue with that

birdiestrachan 4 years, 3 months ago

Mr Munroe is smarter. the ability to walk or run on the beach and observe and give thanks for all of the wonder of God helps. it revels stress.


happyfly 4 years, 3 months ago

It is mind-boggling that a democratically elected government can completely remove our right to move about, work, open up for business and dictate who is essential and who is not without any notice or cause. Yes, there is a dangerous virus 'out there' but nobody really has any idea what the deal is. Four confirmed cases so far and they are all home safe and 3 of them never even had any symptoms at all. What if the virus is not contagious in warm weather? What if the population density and social habits of this country do not encourage the communication of the disease compared to China or Europe. What if every one of us has been exposed to it already? The only evidence on the planet that social distancing works came from a communist government that commits genocide on its own people and is famous for distorting the truth. Our government simply made a knee jerk decision to waive every one of our constitutional rights to follow a theoretical solution that will simultaneously destroy our economy and plunge us all into the complete unknown. Everyone thinks they are heroes now but wait until the unemployment checks get held up and the line at NIB is 14 miles long at 6 feet apart. Get ready for 250,000 fit and healthy people that have no money to pay for food

ThisIsOurs 4 years, 3 months ago

I see the wisdom in everything you say and the cautionary tale. I believe checks and balances should have been included in those new powers they gave to the PM. I believe we should have had a 3 judge panel (from court of appeal) weighing in on any martial law order. Someone in the room looking out for the rights of citizens.

but even after all that I know I don't know what we face, so while I don't like being restricted, I don't want to hear about hundreds or tens dying. Is it too late? We'll have to wait and see. Are we doing more damage than needed to the economy? Who knows. 20 years from now there will be a study on how the entire world overreacted or how they waited too late to react. Only history will tell them the truth.

tetelestai 4 years, 3 months ago

You honestly believe there are only 4 cases? Come on, surely you are more intelligent than that. And, even someone with just an iota of common sense can reason that social distancing is a better alternative than letting the general population run around free. Madrid? New York? Are you even paying attention? Yes, you give up a bit of freedom now, but isnt it worth it if there is a sliver of hope that you can slow the epidemic? Sitting your ass at home for 4 weeks is a small sacrifice, man. And...oh I give up with you Bahamians. Whats silly is that someone actually gave a thumb's up to your nonsensical drivel.

DDK 4 years, 3 months ago

Smart and happyfly! Don't think they get it. Think many are getting a rush from this dangerous display of absolute power. It may well be too late when the leaders realize they are unleashing far more harm on our citizens than this virus of truly unknown origins.......

mandela 4 years, 3 months ago

We have more to lose and very little to gain if we are not prepared or take this virus seriously, we defiantly don't need to have hundreds dead to mummer to ourselves later that we should have taken this virus more seriously,

ConchFretter 4 years, 3 months ago

  1. Westminster system of government, with only two real political parties (no offense, DNA) so whatever the majority party wants goes. Real simple. If you don't like it we have to change our governmental system.

  2. The Bahamas will look back and thank God that the Prime Minister during the Covid-19 pandemic was also a physician and that he took the threat seriously. If there are minimal cases and few/no deaths, it will be BECAUSE of the curfews. Just look what is happening in Italy and the United States to see what happens when the situation is not taken seriously.

  3. Because early action is critical, it is pointless and counter-productive to convene a task force to mull over the situation, have drafts of their recommendations leaked, etc. If there is a fire in the building, there is no need to convene a task force to determine whether or not to break the glass and pull the fire alarm...

Newlife6751 4 years, 3 months ago

At the point the entire world is in crisis AND there are no clear answers to resolving it, right now is the time for those with ideas, medical, financial, mental health and other areas of expertise to jump in and provide recommendations. This is not the time to simply criticize without adding value. It's the entire world, not just our archipeligo. We have to rely on our leaders and trust that they are doing their best given the situation. Every day presents new challenges and frankly, compared to other countries who waited to implement lockdown, the action was swift and decisive. Let's try to uplift each other during this unprecedented time.

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