AG gives MP Asot Michael an A+ for intervention in debate to extend State of Emergency

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St. Peter Member of Parliament Asot Michael came in for high praise Thursday after he gave ‘a lesson in the constitution and law’ to opposition members Jamale Pringle and Trevor Walker.

Both Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin and Speaker of the House Sir Gerald Watt praised Michael for his intervention during the debate on a resolution to extend the State of Emergency.

“I want to commend him, because he has actually captured the law quite correctly, in a nutshell,” Benjamin said.

“As a matter of fact, I whispered to him that he got an A+.”

Sir Gerald said: “The Member for St. Peter gave legal reasoning.”

The Speaker quipped that he wondered if the Attorney General could top MP Michael’s presentation.

It was the fourth time that Parliament’s Lower House debated on an extension of the State of Emergency, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne saying the current circumstances once again justify the extension.

But both Pringle and Walker argued against the extension, saying there was no need for Antigua and Barbuda to use a State of Emergency to maintain health protocols.

Michael was vigorous in his defence of the resolution, as he rubbished the arguments presented by the opposition.

Here’s an excerpt of MP Michael’s presentation:

“They are making a big deal about a State of Emergency and why the Government should be extending the State of Emergency.

It’s not that the Government wants to impede the fundamental rights of citizens or freedom of movement … but the very act of the Government extending or having a State of Emergency is so that the Government can set, for example the curfew hours.

And if you do not have a State of Emergency, the Government cannot curtail the freedom of movement of persons in the country, regulate and set curfew hours and there would be no curfew.

Member for Barbuda you need to educate yourself and know the law and do not mislead the people of the country.

You’re giving the impression to the citizens and residents of the country that the Government is coming to this Parliament for over a year, extending the State of Emergency because the Government wants to curtail the freedoms and rights of the citizens, and that is not so.

It is essential, because the Government, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Cabinet has no power under the Public Health Act or any other legislation, except under Section 20 of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda to set the curfew hours.

“If you do not have curfew hours, you would have rampant spread of the COVID, where people will be doing as they like, you will have fetes, parties, you will have congregation of people. The Government would not be able to set certain regulations. The Public Health Act does not cover that Mr. Member for Barbuda.”

Meanwhile, responding to Pringle and Walker, Benjamin said: “I can’t understand how Parliamentarians who are so experienced, know the law can be so unappreciative of what the law provides.”

At the end of the debate, Parliament’s lower house gave approval for the extension of the State of Emergency for another three months.

The resolution set the expiration date for the measures as June 28, 2021 or sooner, if Parliament decides to end it.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. It sad when our elected officials go to parliament and show the whole world how stupid they are. To make a statement that you are not a lawyer, but you are a lawmaker and do not understand a law yet you want to refer to the law and want to lecture someone who is a lawyer , that beats all sense. I mean it cannot get dumber than that.
    You get the representation you deserve.
    They entire world has seen them stooches. Even Asot Michael could not believe the nonsense the were spewing out. And then bush lawyers like Tabor want to come and support this dumb narrative that you do not need a SOE to implement the various regulations without being challenged by some on constitutional grounds. I’m not a lawyer either but having listen to both I do clearly understand what the AG was explaining to the lay persons like me. Bush lawyers like Lovell and Tabor can continue their missleading exercise of their supporters.

    • FROM THE SIDELINE why don’t you come to my office so I can take you through the Public Health Act so you will understand that you do not need a State of emergency (SOE) to implement either the covid protocols or the curfew. After you are educated you can then go and educate your idol Gsston Browne. Also, in Parliament Pringle made the point that the circumstances of detention under a SOE was different to a detention situation under normal circumstances. The Attorney General criticized him and said that only under a SOE as a result of war would the circumstances that Pringle described such as 7 days before you are told the reason for your arrest etc would exist. The Attorney General was talking pure nonsense. Their is no difference whether an SOE was triggered by war, pestilence, natural disaster or dangerous infectious disease. The circumstances of the detention would be the same. I cannot believe that the Attorney General is so poorly advised. Again FROMTHE SIDELINE please educate yourself before making all sorts of erroneous comments. The Public Health Act has all the provisions in place (and the Constitution underscores it) for the curfew to be in place outside of a SOE. Why don’t you or your party organize a debate for us to address this matter.

      • Tabor the AG has explain it all already and guess what the Speaker who is a QC agrees with him. So you do not have nothing to explain. You should go sit with the AG and let him teach you a little bit of the law and the constitution. If you guys are so sure why not take your case to an independent law office outside Antigua for a juridish review. And present the government with that legal opinion

        • So FROM THE SIDELINE your learned AG and the Speaker of the House cannot be wrong. In this case they are both dead wrong. You need to ask the Bar Association to look at it and give an opinion. This country is upside down when it comes to an understanding of the law by out Parliamentarians. Do you want a perfect example FROM THE SIDELINE, ask Molwyn Joseph the Minister of Health why he made unlawful Regulations under the Public Health Act on 20 March, 2020 when he had no legal authority to do so. Ask the AG and Gerry Watt about that. On the Central Board of Health and its Chairman can make Regulations under the Public Health Act.

    • Sideline
      Lovell and Tabor are not bush lawyers for your information. They are both trained and qualified attorneys.

  2. What grade did wide bodied give Asot.In the matter of the land sales taxes deceptions.He sold land for $5,000,000 supposedly.He was suppose to get a 10% tax waiver on that sale $500,000.It was allege by Gaston Browne in Parliament.That Asot Michael sold that property for $50,000,000.So in actuality,he got a tax break of 10% or $5,000,000 into his pockets.In my kindergarten opinion.He deceived his colleagues. He stole from the poor tax paying people of Antigua and Barbuda. He stole from the State.
    CUTIE 9 YARDS: What grade did you give him for that deception? Could that be construed as a FRUAD. Not accusing just asking.

    • I don’t usually agree with you, BUT that’s a good question, and it needs to be explored further.

  3. Those men in the above picture are older than me.However,their hair is blacker than tar.Just for Men must be a huge seller in Antigua.People of ANU.Buy some shares in that product.

    • Have you never heard of the potato peels remedy to darken hair???

      It’s the safest and most natural way to keep Grey hair at bay. Not to mention the cost is less expensive compared to artifical chemical dyes

  4. Section 19 of the Constitution: Except as is otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution, no law may abrogate, abridge or infringe or authorise the abrogation, abridgement or infringement of any of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual hereinbefore recognised and declared.

    Now what that section is saying is that no law can affect a citizens fundamental rights unless the Constitution says that the law can do so.

    Now to section 8 of the Constitution which states: A person shall not be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout Antigua and Barbuda, the right to reside in any part of Antigua and Barbuda, the right to enter Antigua and Barbuda, the right to leave Antigua and Barbuda and immunity from expulsion from Antigua and Barbuda.
    Section 8 (3): Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision for –
    (a) ….
    (b) for the imposition of restrictions on the movements or residence within Antigua and Barbuda …… in the interests of defence, public order, public morality, or public health.

    Now FROM THE SIDELINE would you say that it is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for restrictions to be placed on freedom of movement to curb the spread of the covid pandemic. I am sure your answer would be YES. Now if your answer is Yes that means that any such restrictions under the Public Health Act mandated in its REGULATIONS would not be inconsistent with the Constitution and would be valid.

    The same logic outlined above would also apply to section 13 of the Constitution dealing with Freedom of Assembly and Association. Please read the Constitution since I do not have the time to go through and explain everything to you.

    I know what I have said here might be difficult for you to comprehend, but you can go to he Attorney General and Gerry Watt QC and I hope that they understand and do a commentary on it or explain it to you.

  5. By the way FROM THE SIDELINE for some reason the first part of my above comment was not printed. Anyway, the first part was just an introduction to tell you that I will be educating you about the Constitution and hope that you understand it.

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