by Norris Mitchell
While it is generally accepted that Grenada and the other territories of CARICOM would eventually adopt the CCJ as their final appellate court, in keeping with the “natural order of occurrence.”
This should not become a political con game or an imposition or dictate to suit the personal interests of politicians and their legal surrogates, which is what it seems to have become with the lack of adequate information on the pros and cons and the workings of the organisation and the unseemly haste to have it done by 6 November 2018, which have led persons to speculate, as to whether there is a hidden agenda. See Carina Blache (a student of TAMCC) tWRF Winning Essay Competition on the referendum, published on 19 October 2018 and on Facebook.
The narrative over the past two months has been very instructive, as the Grenadian (voting) population has had a plethora of views and pertinent information not from CRAC but from the population at large which have, in my view, enlightened the masses as to the REAL ISSUES and that we must not forget that “Eternal vigilance is the price for democracy.”
In this regard let us review some of what has come to light: The government through CRAC, the body responsible for getting a yes vote, was unable on its own to convince the Grenadian public of the virtues of joining the CCJ and that by so doing “break the chains of colonialism and complete the cycle of our political independence”, and had to resort to bringing 2 regional prime ministers and the recently retired CCJ Chief Justice to Grenada, at the expense of the Grenadian taxpayer, in order to indoctrinate us on the benefits of joining the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.
The salient objective of the yes vote is to give government the authority to change our constitution, in order to give politicians the authority to introduce measures of governance that would be injurious to the well being of the people. That is, more authoritarianism and less justice to the ordinary man on the street. In other words, we would be giving them a “whip” so to speak, to manners the country. Less justice and more corruption.
The refusal of the government to make the necessary amendments to the Representation of the People Act before the referendum, as recommended by the Caricom and the OAS representatives reports on the “unusual” conduct of the 13 March 2018 Grenada General Election. Instead the passing of “window dressing/cosmetic” legislation to prevent the use of electronic gadgets at the polling stations during the referendum, is evidence of a diminishing democracy.
The contradictions and irregularities in hastily passing of the recent referendum bill in parliament, as indicated by the NDC representatives at their press conference on Monday, 15 October 2018, and Senator André Lewis of the TUC, exposes the need for further urgent review (of the bill) in the interest of the people, with a recommendation that the referendum be postponed until all outstanding matters are satisfactorily completed.
The persistent neglect over the years to provide adequate and suitable buildings and facilities, so that our local courts could dispense to the ordinary Grenadian timely justice, in the name of human rights and common democracy, while at the same time reducing the huge backlog which would inspire hope that justice would not be further denied.
While the administration is hell bent on a “yes vote” to change the constitution, the same government routinely disrespects the laws and constitution of Grenada, and has no hesitation in refusing to comply with judgments brought against the government by the OECS Supreme Court. So where are we heading Grenada, will joining the appellate court of the CCJ correct these transgressions?
It is my understanding that there is some discrepancy in the bill as to the required minimum cost of a litigation. Is it EC$25,000 or EC$1,500? in order to access the CCJ; also under the new CCJ dispensation, it appears that politicians are exempt, and cannot be prosecuted for wrong doings, and that if an election is perceived to be rigged, the CCJ laws at present do not allow a challenge of the election results before the CCJ. That is real progress!
And finally, let us not delude ourselves into believing that we would be breaking the chains of colonialism by joining the appellate court of the CCJ, while at every turn we tenaciously hold on to the trappings, apparels and symbols of our former slave and colonial masters. We even carry their British names. As the famous Bob Marley once sang: “What we need, is to break our mental slavery” or lyrics to that effect.