Efforts to raise funds to meet legal costs of taking the Barbuda land saga to London’s Privy Council have been fruitful.
That is according to Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker as campaigners continue the fight to maintain communal land rights on the sister isle, while central government continues its push to end the practice.
The matter has been before the courts for some time and will come before the country’s final appellate court next month.
“That case comes up on May 3 and so we have actually tried to solicit some funds to assist the case,” Walker told the Observer AM show yesterday.
“We have actually been working very closely with the persons in the diaspora and I think this week we will be launching even further some appeals locally … to assist the case,” he explained.
Around EC$170,000 is needed, according to Walker, who was unable to say how much money has been raised thus far.
The case was filed in court by Walker, who is the leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), and founding member of the BPM MacKenzie Frank.
The case against the government was mounted following the passage of the Paradise Found Act 2015 which nullified critical sections of the Barbuda Land Act 2007 which speak to ownership of land on Barbuda.
However, Frank and Walker claimed entitlement to constitutional relief on the basis that they are Barbudans within the meaning of the Land Act and that the land in Barbuda is owned in common.
Barbudans have practiced communal land ownership for centuries; the 2007 Act codified it into law.
Efforts to overturn the practice have invoked a stormy response from many Barbudans who feel it will destroy their unique way of life and erase their cultural identity.
The MP said the long-running case has cost thousands of dollars to fight as he underscored the importance of the case to Barbudans.
Walker remains confident they will win.
“I want Barbudans to understand, both here and abroad, that this is a very, very serious case and I have said before in the courts there is no guarantee and I want to put that out there.
“We are praying. We have met with the pastor’s association in Barbuda, the seven churches and we are strategising and we are ensuring that all Barbudans understand that they must pray and they must be hopeful and confident that come May 3, after the decision is given, it will be given with the interest and in the favour of Barbuda,” he said.
He is inviting Barbudans to a town hall meeting next week to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the case.
“On Tuesday, at 5pm, we are going to have a town hall meeting at the Holy Trinity School to address all Barbudans on this particular matter.
“Hopefully, we will have our QC Justin Simon attending that meeting and we will be discussing the entire Privy Council situation with the people of Barbuda,” Walker concluded.