AG decries scapegoating and rushed lawmaking by government

Attorney General Dawn Smith has raised concerns about a recurring pattern of government members using her position as a scapegoat whenever issues in governance are highlighted to the public. This came in response to the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) blaming her predecessor, Baba Aziz, for a massive error that led to illegitimate Belongership status being awarded to 688 persons back in 2019/2020.

Smith raised the concern in response to the Dr Natalio Wheatley-led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) blaming former AG, Baba Aziz, for the massive error that led to 688 persons being illegitimately awarded Belongership status back in 2019/2020, and for the House of Assembly (HOA) being recalled days before the general election to correct the blunder.

“The Attorney General was under the bus bad, bad, bad, bad during the Commission of Inquiry. The Attorney General under the bus again,” AG Smith while expressing disconcertion about the practise.

“It is no comfort to me that my predecessor is the one being accused and accosted this time because ‘today for him, tomorrow for me’. I cannot tell anybody what happened in 2019 because I was not there. But given my own experiences as Attorney General, I can only imagine. But what I will say is that I have always my known my predecessor to be a careful and good lawyer and very professional,” she added.

The AG also called on other attorneys in chambers to take careful note of yesterday’s HOA proceedings, take their time in performing their duties, and stand their ground.

Gov’t passes laws slapdash

Smith also hit back at the government for seemingly always passing legislations in an uncoordinated and slapdash way.

The Attorney General further noted that she has always cautioned against this approach and has continuously urged the government to have proper public consultation on every draft legislation; for Cabinet to only approve well-thought-out, researched, and sound policy; for draft legislation to be scrutinised by policymakers to ensure that it reflects policy objectives; and for lawmakers to be given “ample time between when I bill is laid in the House and when it goes to committee so that representatives can engage with their stakeholders and come back to the House to debate intelligently and bring issues that have been raised from their interactions with their constituents.”

“In my tenure, I’ve never seen it done,” AG Smith expressed. “What I know is if we had done [those things], we would not be here today.”