By Elesha George
Attorney-at-law Charlesworth Tabor is seeking to file a constitutional motion in the High Court to determine whether two pieces of legislation contradict each other.
Tabor said Section 24(2) (i) of the Defamation Act is in conflict with 58(1) of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, and in fact makes the Act null and void.
The Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, which speaks to Freedom of Speech in proceedings of parliament, specifies that “no civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of either House of Parliament for words spoken before, or written in a report to the House of Parliament” by petition, bill, resolution, motion or otherwise.
Meanwhile, the Defamation Act 2015 addresses “absolute privilege” in the Senate and the Lower House of Assembly and gives parliamentarians total immunity, whether or not the house is in session. Absolute privilege protects individuals who reveal personal information about another person in the course of public forums such as parliament and proceedings in a court or tribunal.
Tabor argues that the section of the Defamation Act which speaks to complete immunity is “wrong”, even while section 39 of that same Act states that “where there is a conflict between the provisions of this Act and another enactment, the provisions of this Act shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency”.
The idea to file a constitutional motion arose after the attorney lost a case of defamation while representing former MP Wilmoth Daniel against Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday, September, 19th 2019.
Read more in today’s newspaper