by Linda Straker
- National public consultation at Grenada Trade Centre on Wednesday, 29 August
- Featured speaker is Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley
- Grenada referendum scheduled for last quarter of 2018
“Breaking the Chains of Colonialism for one United Caribbean,” is the theme for the launch of promotional activities to encourage Grenadians voters to give their approval in the upcoming referendum which is aimed at making the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final appellate court for the island.
The launch will be in the form of a national public consultation at the Grenada Trade Centre on Wednesday, 29 August from 6 pm. The featured speaker will be Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who is expected to speak on the theme of the consultation.
The CCJ settles disputes between Caribbean Community (Caricom) Member States and serves as the highest court of appeals on civil and criminal matters for the national courts of Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana.
Attorney General Sir Lawrence Joseph, who is serving as Chairman of the CCJ Advisory Committee said that Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell would officially announce the date of the referendum which is scheduled to be held in the last quarter of 2018.
Following the launch, Sir Lawrence said there would be other consultations in villages, communities and stakeholders by sectors. “Other activities will include rallies, public service announcements, brochures and other things,” said Wendy Edmund who is a member of the committee. “Subsequent to the launch, we intend to go throughout the length and breadth of Grenada to educate people.”
Joseph is of the view that joining the CCJ will be Grenada’s way of detaching itself from colonialism. “Time to break the chain of attachment of colonialism,” he said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
In accordance with the legal requirement of the constitution, the bill to make the CCJ the final Court of Appeal was already laid in the parliament earlier in the year. The main purpose of the bill is to amend the constitution to enable accession to the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal instead of the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.
Grenada conducted a 7-bill referendum in 2016, and each bill failed to receive the 2/3 majority from the voters. The previous committee was chaired by well-known constitutional lawyer Dr Francis Alexis with 18 others who represented several stakeholders including the religious community, the media, the youth, the labour movement and civil society.
Grenadians voted against the CCJ by a margin of 9,492 in favour and 12,434 voted against.
At the time, Prime Minister Mitchell said that he regretted the defeat for the CCJ, noting that he should have done more to encourage voters to accept the court as the island deepens its political independence from Britain.
The Prime Minister has since indicated that he plans to campaign the “yes vote” aggressively because he believes that the court would work in the best interest of ordinary Grenadians who are unable to take matters to the Privy Council because of cost.
“Justice for all” is the slogan for the campaign.