The following is a statement issued by THE NEW TODAY newspaper on the recent spate of Gag Orders from proceedings in the High Court
THE NEW TODAY notes with grave concern the recent introduction of Gag Orders by the High Court to prevent the media from bringing to the attention of the public some very high profile cases.
Three Gag Orders have been approved by judges of the high court on applications made in these cases in order to prevent media houses from carrying reports on the proceedings.
This new development involving the use of Gag Orders is unprecedented in our jurisdiction and can set the tone for Gag Orders to become the order of the day in Grenada.
It should also be noted that two of the three Gag Orders were applied for by law firms operated by nationals from Guyana.
THE NEW TODAY is particularly disturbed about this emerging practice since one of the Gag Orders seeks to protect an individual who the court records will show had violated an earlier order of a high court judge in the very proceedings before the high court.
This particular case is already in the public domain and the public’s right to know about the outcome of the case has been shot down by the issuing of the Gag Order and the sealing of the file in this particular case.
Is the court allowing itself to be used and abused by some of its own officers?
We call on the Chief Justice of the OECS Court, the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Information, the Attorney-General as the protector and guardian of the public interest, the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), and the Caribbean Media Workers Association to look into the recent gag orders emanating from our law courts and to determine whether there is any abuse of the process.
Of particular concern to us is the fact that the current President of the Bar, a former journalist himself, was involved in one of the proceedings in which a Gag Order was issued against the media.
Grenada should not be allowed to return to its past history of abuse of human rights and freedom of expression, as well as the curtailment of Constitutional rights.
The public should be made aware of what is emerging in the law courts in light of plans by Government to hold a referendum to change the Constitution to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final appellate court in the jurisdiction and to move away from the Privy Council in London.
This referendum is yet to take place but already some lawyers are showing their true colours with the use of the Gag Orders to prevent the public from knowing what is happening with respect to certain cases.