Defence Force Captain takes legal action to keep permanent employment status

Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force captain Javonson Willock
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

A captain in the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF), will be back before the court again after filing an application seeking to prevent the revocation of his permanent employment status.

With over 18 years of service, Javonson Willock, ascended through the ranks to become a captain, holding a permanent position for seven years.

In March 2022, Willock was unexpectedly summoned to a meeting where he was informed of an oversight regarding his commission scroll.

The ABDF proposed placing him back on a short-term contract, subject to extension based on performance. After 12 years of short-term service, a decision might be made to grant him permanent status.

Despite seeking a resolution with his superiors, Willock received no response for months. Eventually, he was instructed to surrender his commission instrument appointing him a captain indefinitely since 2015.

In his application, Willock contends that his commission scroll is legally binding and “cannot be arbitrarily or unilaterally varied based on a position the ABDF has taken.”

He argues that carrying a short-term contract is “unlawful” and should be subject to judicial review.

The application for an interim injunction was filed on November 29 and is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, given that Willock’s leave also ends on that day.

Willock’s fight to maintain his original contract is grounded in its potential impact on his pension eligibility in four years, and his overall income.

His legal dispute with the defence force dates back to 2020 when Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Telbert Benjamin initiated an investigation alleging misconduct.

He was found guilty of six charges by the Defence Board and was asked to resign.

Contesting an unfair trial, he challenged the decision in the High Court, and on September 21, 2023, Justice Jan Drysdale declared the proceedings null and void.

Damages and costs were awarded, but the settlement is still pending.

Observer media reached out to Colonel Benjamin, who stated that he will leave the matter in the hands of the court.

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