by JK Roberts
This current internet-circulated set of articles entitled “Fake Access to Justice promoted for Grenada’s CCJ Referendum”, focuses on using as a case study the first filing from Grenada of a court case for judicial redress by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Grenadians are being advised to give keen attention to the pertinent proceedings so as to get a better understanding of the role and merit of the CCJ, essentially with respect to “access to justice”. The realities emerging from the court case should be instructive for assisting in determining the sincerity of the powers-that-be in their pursuits for the referendum to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ as the nation’s last appellate court.
Although “access to justice” is promoted as being easy, guaranteed and unregulated for the ordinary people; on the contrary, there are confirmations that access to justices can only be materialised within a framework of institutional resources, judicial provisions and an administration of justice which is dependent on, and/or is at the pleasure of the government. Moreover; the political power which is featured inherently in the process and mechanism of accessing justice lends itself to undue interferences, with bias and disadvantage against an individual. Thus; what is “access to justice” for a Grenadian citizen, when the experiences and records are that the government blatantly disrespects judgments and orders of the court, as well as with impunity, it abuses the constitution?
The court case was filed by Attorney-At-Law Ruggles Ferguson, on behalf of a Grenadian family, against the state of Barbados for alleged undue hindrance and humiliation and hurt undergone in that Caricom member-country. The filing is in the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, which according to the 2001 CCJ Agreement is the compulsory, exclusive and final court regarding the interpretation and application of the 1973 Treaty establishing the Caribbean Community (Caricom), with particular reference to the provisions for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). The CSME has been taken into account in the 2001 Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which is about regional trade and the free movement of people and goods and services within the countries of Caricom.
The public statements made in connection with the filing of the court case raise many questions for clarification. Particularly as reported (https://thenewtoday.gd/local-news/…/the-gilbert-family-approaches-ccj-for-justice/); Ferguson said that the Gilbert family applied for “special leave” to bring the matter to the CCJ, because “in the CCJ we can count on speed and even if the CCJ doesn’t agree with the point then it can still be taken elsewhere after”. An important lesson already learned is that both the government and the CCJ have to be approached for permissions to have a court case from a person, brought to the CCJ for substantive trial. What is the policy and protocol for government to intervene in such situations? Furthermore, it is of interest to know; what are the other options which “can still be taken elsewhere” (to pursue remedies) for a dispute regarding, or a violation of, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas? Can trade sanctions be applied to the offending party/country, and who or what instructs such punitive action?
The handling of this court case must be compared with that of the landmark Jamaican Shanique Myrie’s similar CCJ original jurisdiction court case against Barbados, in terms of ttimeline government’s interest and intervention, and the honouring of judgements. In fact; there are speculations as to the reason(s) for only at this time on the verge of the 6th November 2018 second CCJ referendum, that such court cases become prominent, when Grenadians and the government of Grenada are entitled to this judicial avenue since 2001/2005. The degrading incident involving the local family took place on 11 October 2016, but it was made public in January 2017, and even at that time no official report was received by the Grenadian prime minister; (Mitchell to get formal report on Barbados incident – St. Lucia Times News https://stluciatimes.com › General). The court case was filed on 25 September 2018, but not yet on for substantive hearing.
According to the judgement of Myrie’s court case (https://barbadostoday.bb › Local News), the grievance was inflicted on 14 March 2011, the originating application was filed on 17th day of May 2012 and the full judgement was delivered on the 4th day of October 2013. However; Myrie was managed to get some payment in June 2014 and up till September 2015 the Jamaica Observer reported that the CCJ has still not managed to secure payment for lawyers who represented her (www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-payment-for-Myrie-s-lawyers_19228478). Very interesting is the importance placed and the role played, as an intervener, by the government of Jamaica in the court case, according to (https://jis.gov.jm/ministry-of-foreign-affairs-and-foreign-trade-places-high-importanc…).
What about the Gilberts?
Could anyone say confidently and credibly; when have the politicians and lawyers genuinely demonstrated goodwill and advanced the interest of the local people, than to now come to dish out deceit, propaganda and rhetoric on the CCJ as “access to justice”?
The developing story concerning the “reliable information that the … government has taken a decision not to contest an appeal … to overturn a high court decision … before the London-based Privy Council … ”; (https://thenewtoday.gd/…/nnp-clearing-the-way-for-a-bishop-killer-to-become-lawyer…), must be factored in the matrix of “access to justice” for the people and the State of Grenada. Sadly this betrayal is not new, as the example can be shown that tremendous damages have been served against Grenada to burden, and to cause peril for, its people following a “default judgement” for not putting a defence in a judicial order against the state in November / December 1996; Dipcon Engineering Services Ltd v. Bowen & Anor (Grenada)| Privy … https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5779fc2ae561096c93131a2e.
This is the real food for ‘thought and digestion’, as opposed to the fake “access to justice” being feed to Grenadians and the rest of the Caribbean people! Comprehensive Justice is the call!