Local Lawyer Anselm Clouden believes that Grenada will be further embarrassing itself if it breaks links with the Privy Council in London and move to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final appellate court for the island.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, the city barrister-at-law said that the one-year old government of Prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell should give more in-depth thought to making that decision.
The CCJ vs. the Privy Council is a debate taking part of government’s agenda to bring about Constitutional Reform.
A committee headed by noted Constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis has embarked on an islandwide crusade to discuss reforms to Grenada’s 1974 Constitution that it inherited from Great Britain when the island attained its independence.
According to Clouden, Grenada does not have the money needed to pay the CCJ for the services that would be rendered.
“You cant pay the OECS – have they worked out or improvise a plan how they’re going to pay the CCJ? But the Privy Council is free. You don’t pay the judges of the Privy Council and you have among some of the best judges in the world. So we get access to judges now free of cost and until we can afford to pay our way judicially, I think we should hasten slowly,” he said.
The outspoken local barrister conceded that the CCJ is a step forward to further de-link from the Colonial bondage of the Privy Council and as such he can support the move to abolish appeals to the Privy Council but just not at this point in time when Grenada is at its worst financially.
“I am for the CCJ, I will like us to go to CCJ, but we cannot go to CCJ and embarrass ourselves further if we can’t even attend to what we have now. The CCJ would be an added responsibility to us, so we must think of what we are doing and don’t move on emotions,” he told this newspaper.
“Sure I want to severe the umbilical cord and de-link from the Privy Council but let me tell you Canada was able to do it in 1949 but Canada is an industrialised country, very wealthy – she could have afford to do it then. Could we afford to go there now? That’s the question.
“… It’s not whether we going or not, ultimately we would go, ultimately I am for going but I don’t think the time is right because we cannot afford it. Let us take care of our home first and then we take care of our neighbours own.”
Clouden is arguing that although the CCJ judges are just as excellent and on the same level as Privy Council judges that is not the issue at stake right now but the concern over whether “we (can) afford it now”.
A few weeks ago, Grenada was left embarrassed when a sitting of the Court of Appeal was called off at the last minute when the Justices pulled out over a substantial amount of monies owed to the court by the island.
Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod responded by announcing that government has agreed on a formula to make payments to clear off the reported EC$3 million owed to the sub-regional court that services the island that make up the Organisiation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).