Referendum In The Balance!!!

Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip appears to be confident that Thursday’s Referendum on Constitutional Reform in the Spice Isle will go ahead despite a looming legal threat from former Attorney General, Jimmy Bristol.

News broke late Monday that Bristol had written a letter to be sent to Phillip outlining 19 breaches of the act governing the holding of a referendum on the island.

Speaking on the issue in a telephone interview with THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday, the Acting Supervisor of Elections confirmed receipt of the letter.

Without being specific, Phillip said that Bristol is calling for an explanation to be provided to his concerns in relation to the Referendum process and has threatened to take the matter to Court if his request is not granted.

He stated that he did intend to respond to the concerns by “this Thursday, November 17.”

“I am reviewing it (the letter from Mr. Bristol) and I am satisfied that the spirit and the intent of the law according to my interpretation would have been met,” Phillip told this newspaper.

“I have reviewed the publications (of the Writs) and in my humble view, I am satisfied that the applications according to law have been met…I wouldn’t want to go into detail. I think I will speak with you after I would have responded to Mr. Bristol,” he said.

“I will respond and I trust that I will be able to satisfy Mr. Bristol’s request. We will respond to what he would have asked,” he added.

Phillip acknowledged that there are certain legal aspects in the letter and “if they need to be addressed (then I) would have to go to the Attorney General’s Chambers”.

THE NEW TODAY contacted Attorney General (AG) Cajeton Hood who is the main legal adviser to the Keith Mitchell-led government but he said, he has not yet analysed Bristol’s complaint and was “not in a position to comment at this time.”

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the contents of Bristol’s letter:

The Supervisor of Elections
Tanteen Terrace
St. George’s

14th November, 2016

Dear Sir,

We make the following observations with respect to the requirements of Section 5 of the Constitutional Referendum Act No. 25 of 2016 (“the Act”).
First we note that by section 5(1) of the Act, that each writ is to have the corresponding bill attached thereto.

Secondly, we note that by section 5(2) of the Act, you are immediately upon receipt of the writ and the attached copy of the relevant bill, to, inter alia, cause same to be published in two issues of the Gazette and two issues of two newspapers circulating regularly in Grenada not less than 21days before the date fixed for the constitutional referendum, in this case the 24th November, 2016.

Thirdly, we note that the Writs together with the corresponding bill attached thereto were published as required by section 5(2) of the Act in the regular Gazette dated the 21st October and in an extra-ordinary
edition thereof dated the 26th October, 2016.

Fourthly, we note that the Writs were purportedly published in issues
of the Caribupdate weekly newspaper and the Grenada Advocate weekly newspaper.

Fifthly, we note that the Caribupdate issue of the 20th to the 26th October did not have the Writs as part of that issue.

Sixthly, we note that Caribupdate on the 21st of October, 2016, published a separate document containing the Writs.

Seventhly, we note that the Caribupdate publication of the 21st October, 2016 did not comply with section 5(2) of the Act in that the Writs did not have the corresponding bills attached thereto.

Eighthly, we note that the Caribupdate issue of the 27th October to the 2nd November, 2016, also did not comply with section 5(2) of the Act in that the Writs did not have the corresponding bills attached thereto.

Ninthly, we note that none of the Caribupdate issues/publications were deposited with the Registrar of the High Court as required by section 14(1) of the Newspapers Act.

Tenthly, we note that the Grenada Advocate published its regular issue dated the 21st October, 2016 which was deposited as required by section 14(1) Newspaper Act but which did not contain the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.

Eleventh, we note that the Grenada Advocate regular issue dated the 2lst October, 2016, contained neither the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.

Twelfth, we note that the Grenada Advocate purportedly published a second issue dated the 21st October,2016, containing the Writs but without the corresponding bills attached thereto as required by section 5(2).

Thirteenth, we note that the Grenada Advocate purportedly published another issue dated the 24th October, 2016, containing the Writs but without the corresponding bills attached thereto as required by section 5(2).

Fourteenth, we note that neither issue of the Grenada Advocate containing the Writs and the corresponding bills was deposited with the Registrar of the High Court as required by section 14(1) of the Newspapers Act.

Fifteenth, we note that the Grenada Advocate published its regular issue dated the 28th October, 2016, which was deposited as required by section 14(1) of the Newspaper Act but which did not contain the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.
Sixteenth, we note that the issues of the Grenada Advocate referred to in twelfth and thirteenth above were not available to the public at the usual outlets.

Seventeenth, we note that ballot paper samples do not conform with the requirements of section 10(3) of the Act in that the ballot paper contains both a distinct number and a distinct feature as opposed to one or the other.

Eighteenth, we understand that the already dated ballot papers for the aborted referendum of the 27th October,2016, are to be re-used for the 24th November. The ballot forms must be dated with the actual referendum date.

Nineteenth, non-compliance with section 14(1) of the Newspaper Act is a criminal offence.

The foregoing highlights serious deficiencies in the referendum process, which strike at the core of the legality of the holding of the referendum.
We are copying the Attorney General and invite your reasoned response by Thursday the 17th November, 2016, failing which we shall make the necessary application to the Court.

Yours faithfully,

James A.L. Bristol
HENRY. HENRY & BRISTOL

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