THE NEW TODAY is calling on the people of Grenada to take careful note of what is happening in the local courts amidst a push by the government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to facilitate a second referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Our high courts have been closed for the past three to four weeks due to health concerns with the LIME building on the Carenage.
The only high court that has been sitting is the No.3 at the Mediation Centre on Scott Street.
However, this court is only dealing with Chamber matters while the vast amount of other beefy civil matters have been put on the backburner.
The other high courts – No. 2, 4 & 5 – have not held one single sitting since May 22. This is close to one month and one can safely say now that there has been an effective shutdown of the high court and the lockdown of justice for many people in the country.
The OECS Chief Justice heeded the request to put in an additional judge to serve in Grenada to deal with the tremendous backlog of civil cases that even the government was often complaining about in Parliament.
The judge is here on base but cannot sit in the civil courts as the government, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs continue to remain quiet and deny justice to many citizens.
However, the hired hands of the government find the time to be all over the media “selling” the CCJ as the court that Grenadians must vote in a referendum as the final appellate court of jurisdiction in the Spice Isle.
The two things just do not add up. Maybe THE NEW TODAY is wrong and the two can indeed add up using a new Mathematical system that the powers-that-be might have formulated but unknown to many of us.
The current government has not shown any clear signs that it is doing everything possible to end the very unhealthy state of affairs with the closure of so many high courts in the country.
The situation with the court system is compounded by the astonishing admittance by the Attorney-General, Dr. Sir Lawrence Joseph, the many of many titles, that many persons are denied justice at the Court of Appeal level due to a lack of Stenographers.
The Attorney-General even went so far as to admit at a press conference that he is not aware of what is happening at the moment to arrest the situation.
So, the people of Grenada cannot get their matters heard at the Court of Appeal level. If the cases cannot see the daylight in the Court of Appeal well tell us when would they ever reach the CCJ for hearing?
There is so much things that government needs to put in place first before it can even start to talk anything about CCJ. It’s a simple case of putting the cart before the horse.
The NNP regime of PM Mitchell can find millions to pay approximately 3000 Imanis every year.
However, it cannot put in the national budget a mere $180, 000.00 a year to hire three stenographers to prepare the necessary paper work to facilitate the hearing of appeal matters.
People are fed-up with the long delays in appeal matters as lawyers often tell them that the case cannot be heard because the records are not yet ready from the lower court as only one Stenographer is employed by the State to do the work of five others.
Is the priority by government on getting the vote of 3000 Imanis as opposed to hiring 3 or 4 other stenographers to help mann a vital component of the court system?
The NNP has been the most hostile government towards the Judiciary in the past 35 years in Grenada.
Its record is there for everyone to scrutinise – the harsh treatment to former Chief Magistrate Patricia Mark, and the frequent grumbling and onslaught in the Cabinet Room against then high court judge, Justice Brian Alleyne of Dominica for delivering judgements against the State.
How can we so quickly forget the government’s failure to pay the salary of a high court judge on time because of some rulings, and the failure to do repair work in a timely manner on the refrigerator for the judge in what amounts to clear acts of retaliation by the State for rulings against government.
The NNP regime needs to demonstrate in a clear manner that it is serious about the Judiciary in order to be trusted with its movement towards the CCJ.
Funds should be found by the powers-that-be to build a Hall of Justice for the courts to sit and dispense justice for all and sundry.
This piecemeal approach to justice from the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens in this modern era cannot cut it.
The people of Grenada should turn out in large numbers on the next Referendum Day to vote resoundingly against the CCJ Bill until the myriad of issues facing our Courts of Justice are adequately addressed by those in authority.