Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, responding to comments he was told about that were made by some lawyers on social media about the government’s decision to ban the officers of the court from parking inside the courthouse yard, said, they think they are a ‘privileged group’.
On Friday, a notice to lawyers and clerks stated that as of Monday, 21, the only people allowed to park inside the courthouse yard would be those working at the High Court Office, the House of Assembly, current members of Parliament when Parliament is in session, and counsel working at the Director of Public Prosecutions/National Prosecution Service.
“They said that my pronouncements amount to discrimination against lawyers and that the action is arbitrary, capricious, and myopic. I understand that a male lawyer said that I was involved in Jackassing. I have never seen a situation like this where people are abusing words in defence of their privilege. “They think they’re a privileged group.”
Gonsalves said he understands they are making their argument on the basis that they’re officers of the court.
“Well, you are an officer of the court, but you’re not an officer of the courthouse yard.” When you’re called to the bar, you’re not called to the privilege of free parking in the courthouse yard. “I understand a lady from Jamaica who is married to a Vincentian who is a lawyer; she should go and see the Supreme Court in Jamaica. You can’t go inside that yard with your car; you have to park outside and find parking yourself.”
Gonsalves said these people (lawyers) want to exercise baronial power, saying we have this tradition. “I don’t know about that tradition,” Gonsalves said.
“I know that from time to time registrars have said that they will issue cards to see who can park and who can’t park. It never worked. Do you know that there are parliamentarians who go inside to seek parking during Parliament? and there are people who are paid to keep watch on people’s parking spaces. They tell them, “That is their parking space; you can’t park there.”
“Some of them said that nobody could stop them; we will see on Monday what will happen; we’ll see what happens tomorrow.” They appear to own the property; they are the guardians of the property.”I thought it was the government elected by the people in a democracy,” Gonsalves said.
Ernesto is a senior journalist with the St. Vincent Times. Having worked in the media for 16 years, he focuses on local and international issues. He has written for the New York Times and reported for the BBC during the La Soufriere eruptions of 2021.