Case details

Commodore Royal Bahamas Defence Force and others (Appellants) v Laramore (Respondent) (Bahamas)

Case ID: JCPC 2016/0057

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas

Case summary

Issues

Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to decide whether the appellant interfered with the respondent’s ability to fulfil the ordinary obligations of the Muslim faith by requiring him to remain on formation during prayers instead of allowing him to fall out.

Facts

The appeal concerns the scope of the protection for Freedom of Conscience afforded by article 22 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The respondent enlisted as a member of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force ("RBDF") in November 1984. For many years the RBDF in the course of ceremonies and parades, including morning and evening Colours Parades, had included the saying of Christian prayers. From 1993, a Temporary Memorandum provided that those members of the RBDF who were of religious beliefs other than Christianity might leave the parade (fall out) for the prayers’ duration, and then quickly return (fall in) on the prayers’ completion. In 2006 by a further Temporary Memorandum No. 27/06, this arrangement was revoked and it was provided that all personnel should remain present for the conduct of prayers during ceremonial parades. On April 24th 2007 the respondent requested to be ‘exempted from all Christian Activity in the RBDF and other religion other than Islam as it is known that I am a believer in Islam.’ On 25th and 27th April 2007 the respondent dismissed himself from the parade when prayers were about to take place, and refused to return to formation upon being so instructed. He was charged with 2 offences of disobedience to standing orders. In these circumstances, the respondent brought the constitutional proceedings, claiming that Temporary Memorandum No 27/06 was unconstitutional, null and void, and claiming damages against the first and second appellants.

Parties

Appellants

Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Attorney General, Lt. Eric Ctrachan, Sub. St. Dereck Ferguson, Force Chief/Master at Arms Eric Brown

Respondent

Gregoary Laramore

Appeal

Justices

Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes

Hearing start date

23 Feb 2017

Hearing finish date

23 Feb 2017