The government says it will likely file an injunction this week which will put a stop to the Barbuda Council’s move to issuing land certificates in violation of the Privy Council’s recent ruling that all land on Barbuda is owned by the Crown.
Last week, the government issued a statement urging the Council to desist their illegal course of action.
The Council was further cautioned that anyone involved in issuing land certificates for property in Barbuda could face legal action.
What happens next will depend on the outcome of a meeting that was scheduled for Monday night between the Council and the island’s residents and whether they collectively heed the warning issued by the Attorney General and the Cabinet.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said the Council’s intended move would violate the Privy Council ruling which could result in legal consequences for the perpetrators.
“We don’t want to make martyrs of anyone but the Council’s planned action flies in the face of the law.
“It was the Council that took the matter to the Privy Council in the first place and now that it has made its ruling they are the ones seeking to contravene its provisions,” Benjamin explained.
He said the government is prepared to allow those who wish to continue living on the land under the “ownership in common” arrangement proposed by the Council will be allowed to do so, but those desirous of obtaining outright ownership will have the opportunity to do so.
Prime Minister Browne described the Council’s actions as a “knee-jerk” attempt to make the land issue central to the next general elections.
“How can the Council issue land certificates when they don’t own the lands? There is something fraudulent about that.
“I think Trevor Walker is going down the wrong road. The land situation in Barbuda is a settled issue, the Privy Council has ruled, so how can the Council now say that it can issue land certificates when they never owned the lands?
“This is a situation where they are recklessly violating the laws of the land and I believe there should be personal implications for those who are involved in this process,” he said.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has backed up this position saying while his administration would rather not have anyone face criminal charges over their involvement in the proposed plan, the government is prepared to pursue whatever action is necessary if the law is broken.
Browne urged the Council to abandon their plan to issue land certificates to Barbuda’s.
He also accused MP Walker and the Council of attempting to “create confusion” in Barbuda, particularly in light of the fact that the issue of land has for decades been intensely emotive.
Taking aim at Barbuda’s parliamentary representative, Browne asked, “How many elections do you intend to win based on scare-mongering over lands?”