The Prime Minister and the Attorney General must go


By Bobby St. John

Last week’s High Court ruling that a 2017 law stripped the police of its authority to pursue criminal prosecutions without the approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions has plunged the criminal justice system in Antigua and Barbuda into a hot mess for which the Gaston Browne regime is fully responsible.

Browne and company rushed to Parliament on April 17, 2023 with an amendment to the act because of “certain recent developments which show that it is not practical for the police to always obtain the written authority of the DPP to charge an individual”.

In the last six years, many persons have been brought before the courts by the police without authorization of the DPP and convicted by Magistrates for criminal offences. So now we have a spate of unlawful detentions, unlawful arrests, unlawful prosecutions, unlawful penalties and unlawful imprisonment awaiting legal redress from a criminal justice system compromised by reckless, self-serving conduct in the governance of Antigua and Barbuda.

If this is still a real democratic country, the people will ensure that somebody pays for that.

At the very least, if Gaston Browne is serious about practicing what he preaches, then he will announce his resignation and the resignation or dismissal of Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin.

Let us understand how we got into this legal quagmire.

In June 2008, on an application form for the issue of a passport, Steadroy Benjamin certified that a photograph of Jamaican citizen Shane Allen was a photograph of deceased Tyrel Dusty Brann whom he had known for two years. In so doing, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition at the time, facilitated the issue of a passport in the name of the deceased Mr. Brann to Mr. Allen.

Mr. Benjamin insisted that he believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention thereby to deceive. But the evidence is clear, as a Member of Parliament and Officer of the Court, he was involved in an act of forgery which caused a false passport to be issued for whatever benefit he received from his clients.

If Mr. Benjamin knew Mr. Brann for two years, then he also knew that the photograph he was certifying as an image of Mr. Brann was in fact a photograph of someone else. If he did not know the photograph was not a photograph of Mr. Brann then he did not know Mr. Brann and his statement that he knew him for two years was false. Dishonesty on both sides of the coin.

Contrary to instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring charges against Mr. Benjamin, the police filed a criminal complaint that on 2 June 2008, for the purpose of procuring an Antigua passport, Mr. Benjamin stated that the photograph on the application form was that of Mr. Brann knowing that the statement was untrue, contrary to section 6 of the Forgery Act.

In November 2008, Mr. Benjamin filed for leave to apply for judicial review of the police decision to lay complaints against him. He claimed that, in the light of the instruction of the DPP not to prosecute him, the police decision was unlawful. He sought an order that the summonses issued against him be quashed. He also alleged improper political interference by the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, and he made respondents in addition to the Commissioner of Police.

The High Court held that the DPP had no power to prevent the police from instituting criminal prosecutions. The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal overturned that decision only to have its ruling set aside on an appeal to the Privy Council

Accordingly, the Board will humbly advise Her Majesty that the appeal should be allowed; that the orders of the Court of Appeal dated 19 September 2011 should be set aside, with the result that the orders of the High Court dated 31 July 2009 will again have effect; and that the Respondent should pay the costs of the Appellants…

Following the Privy Council ruling in 2014, which draws a line between the powers of the DPP and the duty of the Police to independently institute criminal proceedings, Mr. Benjamin should have been criminally charged.

In 2014 however, Mr. Benjamin became the Attorney General in the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party administration of Gaston Browne – the self-proclaimed champion of good governance in Antigua and Barbuda. And it is under his watch that the criminal charges against Mr. Benjamin were dropped, a most glaring example of the hypocrisy that underlines his grand utterances on good governance.

More importantly, Mr. Benjamin used the public office of Attorney General to introduce the Criminal Prosecutions Service Act in 2017 which effectively reversed the Privy Council decision and cancelled the legal authority given the Police to independently prosecute criminal offenses.  In so doing he conferred on himself the private gain of likely weapon that could be used for his benefit in the event that he again found himself accused of fraud or other criminal offenses.

Abuse of public office for private gain is corruption 101.

Antigua and Barbuda cannot afford to sweep this one on the carpet.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed by the writer aren’t necessarily those of Antigua News Room

Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]


  1. A very good article, chronicling the involvement of Cutie Benjamin in corruption and skullduggery. And this man is Attorney General? Wow! This is why Gaston Browne has such a hold on all these cabinet ministers. Lest we forget, the United States have not forgotten his involvement with the snipers in DC. It may take a while, but Karma is a very patient foe. Now we get a sense of why ALP could not afford to loose the last election.

  2. Yet still the lawyers in Antigua don’t want to make a move to free n help get compensation for the persons affected by the act

  3. Gaston Browne, Benjamin and the ABLP saw Antiguans with their heads bowed down collectively, they thought they’d won, UNTIL WE ALL PRAYED 🙏 TOGETHER AND SAID … AMEN!

  4. What is really troubling is that to date Gaston clown and the plywood/qt is acting as though this is a simple matter and not acknowledging the seriousness of this situation, these people has to go, give the country to people that can handle it’s affairs.

  5. Good article.

    One question for the author however.

    Is this an Antigua specific law or is it a law that was passed in all OECS countries?

    If this provision exists in other countries, then it changes the complexion of what you are suggesting.

  6. Wait until all those prisons realise they care owed money for an unlawful arrest…..

  7. Why can’t folks like Tenman and From The Sideline along with the other mercenaries offer some intelligent input on subjects like these? Gaston is probably chastising them to go and make fools of themselves at this very moment.

Comments are closed.