Standard & Poor’s Tells A Whopper About Barbados Judicial System
According to an article in The Nation News, titled “A Legal Paradise“…
“ONE of the strongest credit stories for Barbados.”
Richard Francis, an analyst at Wall Street’s Standard & Poor’s, perhaps the world’s leading credit rating firm with no axe to grind, wasn’t talking about Barbados’ record of paying its debts. Instead, he was focusing on its legal system, which he said was “clear, has a good reputation”…
… Nation News story (link here)
Who says that Mr. Francis has no axe to grind, and no agenda? What research did he do prior to determining that Barbados has such an excellent judicial system? Has he ever been to Barbados? Who paid for his trip and expenses?
And what qualifications does this financial analyst Mr. Francis have that make him an authority on the quality of a country’s judicial system? What criteria did he use to make his determination? Who did he speak with? What reference materials were incorporated into his report and which materials were left out?
And why does this story appear now – just after Barbados Free Press criticized both the Government of Barbados and Chief Justice David Simmons for the immorality and apparent conflict of interest that surrounds Mr. Simmons’ appointment as Chief Justice? When did Standard & Poor’s last look at our judiciary?
Those are a few questions that any reasonable person would ask upon reading the comments from Standard & Poor’s analyst.
Was Standard & Poor’s Mr. Francis aware of the following when he wrote his report?
– Sir David Simmons, the Chief Justice Of Barbados, was a member of government immediately prior to his appointment by Prime Minister Owen Arthur. Justice Simmons and the judicial system he is in charge of cannot therefore be seen to be impartial – especially in matters where the government has an interest in the outcome of a trial.
-Barbados has no rules requiring a Judge to recuse himself / herself from a case where there is a potential or actual conflict of interest. For instance, judges can and have sat on cases where they have previously acted as a lawyer for, or are related to, one of the involved parties.
– Barbados has no conflict of interest rules or disciplinary code for the legal profession. With no rules, unethical conduct by lawyers or judges is not illegal. There is no standard mechanism in law to bring a judge or lawyer to account.
– Barbados lacks many laws that are considered standard in developed countries… and where there are few laws, there is often no jurisdiction to bring people and corporations to before the court. Foreign investors and citizens can find themselves having no recourse for justice because no laws have been broken.
– Judge’s pay scales are not set by an independent council, but are directly set by the government. Judges also drive government BMW automobiles. Once again, Barbados pays zero attention to the concept of judicial independence – and this strikes at the very foundation of the entire legal system.
– Barbados has no transparency or freedom of information legislation, and no conflict of interest or integrity laws. This means that both citizens and foreign investors are at a disadvantage when dealing with the government – and especially so when one considers the unhealthy close relationship between the government and the judiciary.
Standard & Poor’s should respond to all of the above if they want to retain any credibility at all.
Point Two: The Nation News Is Primarily A Press Release Agency
Here’s an idea: let’s just get rid of the staff at The Nation News, but keep the website. That way, the government or anyone else can directly post their media releases under the banner of “The Nation News” without the delay that happens when the “reporters” have to reword a media release to make it look like they wrote an original story.
Those professional journalists over at The Nation News are at it again: unquestioningly regurgitating yet another press release without so much as a second thought.
You know the routine because you’ve seen it hundreds of times before in The Nation News and the Barbados Advocate: a reporter receives a press release, selects a few quotes that best convey the theme of the press release, asks someone who agrees with the press release to say a few words and then throws in some selected supporting facts found quickly on Google.
Voila! Another complete “news” story ready for those dumb Bajans.
The system all breaks down though if the “reporters” start questioning the veracity of the press releases or the statements of the “experts” who are featured in the releases. Not to worry: discipline is usually maintained because when a journalist dares to ask a few questions, the government “sources” start directing their press releases and “inside scoops” to other, more co-operative reporters who appreciate having articles written for them.
Obviously, the “reporter” who wrote “A Legal Paradise“ in the January 12th edition of The Nation News is one of those cooperative people who values a quick and easy story over real journalism. They didn’t even put their name on it – so maybe the janitor wrote it.
That’s a big part of point number two: The Nation News publishes “news” from various government sources without raising the questions that any reasonable person would ask.
Bajans should think about and question the fundamental veracity of everything they read at The Nation News, the Barbados Advocate and here at the Barbados Free Press. If we all do that one thing, we will no longer be victims of the type of garbage journalism that we have been fed for years.
There is nothing like shouting “The Emperor Has No Clothes On!” to cause the truth to be seen.