A powerless CCJ!!!

A case brought by a Jamaican woman against the authorities in Barbados should be looked at very carefully by all Grenadians in helping them to pass judgment on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The Jamaican woman Shanique Myrie was able to get the court to rule in her favour on denial of entry into Bridgetown and a degrading body search at the Grantley Adams International Airport and to be awarded the sum of BDS$75, 000.00 in damages from the government of Barbados.

This judgment was delivered 8 months ago and up to now Barbados is yet to honour the decision of the court despite commitments given in the past.

It is true that most of the governments within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are short on cash and will spend on only priority areas.

Is the CCJ one of those priority areas? It does not seem to be the case with the administration in Barbados.

It is precisely this issue of the non-payment of the money by the Barbados government among others that is of paramount concern to THE NEW TODAY in giving full support to making the CCJ the final court of arbitration in the

The people of the region would often look in some cases toward the governments for guidance and direction on the way forward.

In Grenada itself, the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has embarked upon a series of islandwide consultation on Constitutional Reform.

The intent of the government is to hold a referendum to try and get the necessary nod from the people to effect the first change to the Grenada Constitution that was handed down by Britain on February 7, 1974 when the island attained its independence.

The Mitchell government already has the majority in Parliament to pass the laws and legislation that are necessary for the constitutional changes.

However, its only hurdle is to convince two-thirds of the people in a referendum that the present Constitution needs changing. This might be a horse of a different colour for the government to achieve in the prevailing conditions.

Dr. Mitchell might be mindful of what happened in neighbouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines when the opposition mounted a strong campaign to get the people to vote against Constitutional Reform.

The Nazim Burke-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) is already raising some concerns and accusations that the government is right now engaged in hostile acts against the very constitution that it now wants the people to change.

Congress might seek to strategically use the holding of a referendum on Constitutional Reform to test the ground politically by articulating among the people that they should not support the plan as being put forward by the Mitchell government.

A defeat for the government on Constitutional Reform will provide the glimmer of hope that Congress is looking to get to make a political comeback.

Given the economic and financial problem now facing the country, the NNP as a government would not be too sure of its true standing on the political ground and might understandable be cautious about giving NDC a chance to feel the pulse of the nation in a referendum.

Despite all the above, THE NEW TODAY is not convinced given the Barbados situation that our regional leaders and politicians can be trusted with a free and independent CCJ. Grenada itself is a classic case to look at in judging the independence of the judiciary.

This newspaper can point to instances of political interference in our law courts especially among some who sit and preside over the court by allowing themselves to be used by politicians.

There was one high court judge who was actively involved in recruiting candidates for one of the existing political parties in the country..

How can opponents of that party in power hope to get justice in front of that particular judge?

A former top civil servant who once served this country as a Permanent Secretary reported that a very powerful and influential politician boasted to him that on one occasion he got the said judge to deliver a ruling in his favour because of their close political affiliation and friendship.

The former PS Finance felt that he himself was hard done by a court matter a few years ago when the presiding judge often granted adjournments in a matter that he had brought against the government and one he and his lawyer were confident of winning.

It is the past behaviour of some judges and politicians that will help to make the people have very little or no confidence in the CCJ.

And the failure on the part of the Barbados government to honour so far a ruling by the CCJ against it involving the Jamaican woman will continue to make the people very skeptical of the CCJ and hold back in putting their trust and faith in the system.

The negative downside for the CCJ is that it has no real power to enforce its own judgments.

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