There is virtually a dead and uneasy silence by the authorities in Grenada on the closure of the Civil Court on the Carenage.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, the Attorney-General Cajeton Hood and the Minister of Legal Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, Elvin Nimrod have not issued any public pronouncement on the closure of High Court No.3.
As most lawyers would shout out aloud in the present circumstances, “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
THE NEW TODAY should not be performing the role of the Grenada Bar Association – a body that has become stone-cold silent in recent months.
It should be the bar, now under a new President in the person of attorney-at-law, Ruggles Ferguson who should be most vocal in calling day in and day out on government to address the issue of the closure of the only Civil Court in the country.
The new Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress((NDC), Nazim Burke, is a practising lawyer and should be one of those opening his mouth on the unfortunate closure of the court.
However, one gets the impression that Mr. Burke is prepared to muzzle himself on a number of issues of national importance out of fear that the current rulers would accuse him of engaging in partisan politics.
The fact of the matter is that the closure of the Civil Court hurts everyone seeking justice and cuts across the narrow political divide.
This untenable situation with High Court No. 3 makes a mockery of the government’s stated position in the Throne Speech and the 2014 Budget presentation to open up a fourth high court in the country to help tackle the backlog of cases in the country.
High Court No.3 was due to sit on Tuesday to hear some important cases that had implications for the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) initiated by the New National Party (NP) government of Prime Minister Mitchell.
Already strapped for cash, local Queens Counsel, Celia Clyne-Edwards was trying to get the court to grant her an Order of Mandamus to either get a commitment from Dr. Mitchell as Minister of Finance to pay approximately EC25 million dollars in compensation to some of her clients or to commit our Prime Minister to prison for failing to pay the long outstanding money.
The self-styled “Delivery” government of Dr. Mitchell has not been able to pay our foreign creditors in the past 14 months as part of the huge EC$2.4 billion national debt – much less the likes of Dipcon and others.
With every passing day – the question that keeps propping up is whether Grenada has not reached the point of being classified as “a failed state”?
The NNP/Dipcon court judgement is something that should be addressed separately since it touches on the type of governance of Dr. Mitchell over the years.
However, THE NEW TODAY is prepared to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt on the failure of the State to provide the necessary financial resources to make alternative arrangements to allow the Civil Court to get on with the business of dispensing justice.
Some might argue that Dr. Mitchell is a bad loser and could be upset with the lady judge in charge of High Court No.3 for delivering a few recent judgements that put the administration in bad light such as the victory by Accountant Garvey Louison against the Prime Minister himself in the matter of the Liquidation of the now defunct GRENADA TODAY newspaper or the million dollar judgement against Ambassador Peter deSavary, considered as a key player in the sale of passports as a revenue earner.
The late Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Raphael Fletcher had come out openly in the public and exposed the rantings and ravings of Dr. Mitchell inside the Cabinet Room whenever the competent judge, Justice Brian Alleyne of Dominica ruled against the NNP government back in the 1995-99 period.
Our present government is definitely short on cash and this was manifested a few months ago when the Court of Appeal pulled out of a sitting in Grenada due to monies owed to the court by government.
Also, the AG, Mr. Hood had announced earlier that government was looking at making a purchase of the Cable & Wireless building on the Carenage to turn into a legal complex to house among others the said High Court No. 3 but nothing has been heard of that proposition in recent times.
However, some have noted that Dr. Mitchell and Company can find $500, 000.00 to pay to the small depositors to deal with a problem that was created by an earlier NNP government that he himself headed back in the 2003-2008 period.
The pay-out is to be made to the small people in the country who often identify with the NNP and its brand of politics while the court system is not a vote-catcher since some lawyers, magistrates and judges are often seen as “the enemies” by the people whose votes are often needed by the politicians.
There is a lot of under current within the present administration on matters pertaining to the judiciary.
The reports circulating that a move was made within the very Cabinet of Ministers to transfer a certain Magistrate from his jurisdiction into another part of the country but it was blocked by another senior member of the Cabinet.
Let’s hope that the NNP as a government is not sure-footed on the approach to be adopted in handling the Judiciary.
Our Constitution is clear that all three branches of the government are equal and that the Judiciary is on par with the other branches such as the Executive and the Legislature – and that no attempt should be made at playing political football with our court houses to put one or the other in the ascendancy.