by Linda Straker
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Control Bill 2020 was placed on order paper scheduled for Wednesday, 29 July
- Documents were circulated to media on Friday, 24 July
- Grenada Bar Association received Bill from Attorney General’s chambers on Saturday, 25 July
The Grenada Bar Association (GBA) said it sees its role as a critique to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Control Bill 2020, and will not participate in any meaningless consultation if the Attorney General stands by his words that nothing much will come up of the discussion with the Bar members.
“The role of the Bar, as we see it, will be to critique the Bill as drafted based on applicable legal principles and to make recommendations for its replacement or amendment in compliance with the law and public policy as the case may be,” the GBA said in a statement on Monday.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) Control Bill 2020 was placed on the order paper for a sitting of the House of Representatives scheduled for Wednesday, 29 July 2020. The documents were circulated to the media on Friday, 24 July and since then it has become a topic of heated debate mainly on social media platforms.
On Sunday, government announced through a press release from the Government Information Service (GIS) that it will not table the Bill and will embark on a consultative process. “Government accepts responsibility for not ensuring that the public had a full explanation of the Bill, before attempting to take it to Parliament, and therefore commits to improving the process.”
Government as a courtesy has previously submitted laws to the GBA for fit for purpose review.
In the GIS release, government reiterated the importance of putting systems and structures in place to ensure that there is no outbreak of Covid-19 in Grenada and that the life of every citizen is protected, using all possible means. So far, collectively, Grenada has been able to control and manage the spread of the virus and this remains our priority.
The Grenada Bar Association said that having received the Bill from the Attorney General’s chambers on Saturday, 25 July 2020 for the first time, the association determined that the “responsible position it should take is to help the process by first seeking the withdrawal of the Bill to allow for consultation with the government and other interested stakeholders, which the government has now admitted should have and did not take place.”
However, it was unhappy with the action of the Attorney General after the government announced the delay of tabling the Bill during the Parliament sitting.
“One day after the government issued its statement, its principal legal advisor has embarked on a round of media outings and has been heard to make statements which signal that he does not expect the consultation to be anything other than an empty exercise,” said the release. “Given the anxiety and agitation which this Bill has already caused to the public, at a time of unprecedented national anxiety and stress, the Government of Grenada must decide whether the message now being carried by the Attorney General is in the interest of the public which has legitimate reasons to be concerned about the content and implications of this Bill.”
“For our part, the Grenada Bar will not participate in any “pappyshow” consultation if, according to the Attorney General, the outcome is already fixed. If the government does not commit to a genuine consultative process, this will only invite further disquiet and disruption into our national space. We urge that good sense must prevail for the good of all of us,” the GBA said.
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