FOLLOWING IS A STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ON THE COURT OF APPEAL’S DECISION TO CANCEL ITS SITTING IN GRENADA, SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY 24- 28, 2014.
The National Democratic Congress(NDC) has learnt, with great disappointment and dismay, that the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal has issued a notice to the legal profession and the Grenadian public that the sitting of the Court scheduled for this week, February 24th- 28th, 2014 has been vacated.
This means that cases scheduled for hearing before the court during this week will not be heard.
The NDC has credible information that the underlying reason for the Court’s decision to vacate the sitting is Government’s failure to meet its obligation to make financial contributions to the Court at the required intervals.
The NDC finds it unfortunate that the NNP administration would cause such embarrassment to our Court of Appeal and inconvenience to the people of Grenada.
Throughout its period in opposition, the NNP accused the then NDC administration of focusing too much on servicing the national debt and not meeting recurrent expenditure such as contributions to regional institutions.
Almost immediately on assuming office, the NNP administration announced on March 8th 2013, that it will cease servicing the national debt and proceed to meet Grenada’s commitments to the regional institutions.
Only this week, Minister for implementation Sen. the Hon. Kenny Lalsingh told the nation that one of his Government’s achievements in its first year in office was to pay up on arrears owed to the various regional institutions.
Given the decision by the Court of Appeal to cancel the sitting, it is clear to the NDC that the Hon. Minister Lalsingh was not telling the truth. As it now turns out, the NNP administration is neither servicing the national debt, nor making the required financial contributions to regional institutions such as the Court of Appeal, nor creating jobs, nor delivering on so many of its promises to the Grenadian people.
Having had control of the country’s public finances for the past year, blaming the past NDC administration is simply not good enough.
THE JUDICIARY – ONE OF THE THREE ARMS OF GOVERNMENT
Grenada as a constitutional democracy requires the three (3) arms of Government – the Legislature (Parliament), the Judiciary (the Court) and the Executive (the Cabinet) to function well simultaneously at all times.
A breakdown in operation of any one of these arms of Government threatens the viability and credibility of our very system of Government.
The NDC insists that our institutions and symbols of democracy must be safeguarded and maintained at all times. It is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, as leaders of the executive arm of Government, to take such measures to ensure that Parliament and the Court have at their disposal all the resources needed to function.
To fail to do so puts the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in serious dereliction of duty and our democracy in jeopardy.
The NDC calls on Prime Minister Mitchell as head of the executive and Minister of Finance to take immediate steps to remedy this embarrassing and unfortunate situation.
The Court being an itinerant one sits in Grenada on average, only twice a year. It means that the next opportunity the people of Grenada, including those with criminal appeals where their very personal liberty is at stake, will have to get their day in Court is 7 or 8 months away, in October or November 2014.
NDC takes the position that this disregard for the important role of the Judiciary is not reflective of a Government that cares for its people.