Does Parliamentary Privilege override rights of privacy in the Bahamas? No (pending appeal).

In a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the Bahamas, dated 2 August 2016, Justice Indra Charles has concluded that Parliamentary Privilege does not override constitutional rights of privacy, and that Members of Parliament were not entitled to read or refer to private email correspondence in Parliament while purportedly cloaked by the protection of Parliamentary Privilege, or rights to freedom of speech.

Frederick Smith QC (Counsel for Save the Bays, the environmental advocacy group whose rights of privacy were established to have been infringed) has described Justice Indra Charles’ judgment as “a watershed in the development of Bahamian Constitutional jurisprudence. It is precedent setting and an historic Judgment in Constitutional Law throughout the British Commonwealth“.

It’s a shame that such an important judgment is not readily available online: the Supreme Court of the Bahamas appears to have stopped publishing its judgments on its website in 2013 …

Publicity surrounding the judgment suggests that there will be an appeal, potentially to the Privy Council in due course.

For more information, see:

Summary of the Judgement by The Supreme Court on the Constitutional Right to Privacy

An open letter from STBs chairman to Speaker of the House of Assembly

The Bahamas Owe Louis Bacon A Serious Apology



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