A second referendum for Caribbean Court

The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s will making another attempt in September to October to persuade Grenadians to vote for the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to become the island’s final appellate court instead of the Privy Council in London.

According to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, a second referendum with just the CCJ Bill on the ballot paper will be brought to the people before the end of 2018 to get their nod to end the association with the Privy Council.

Speaking to reporters at last week’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex, the Prime Minister said that unlike the failed referendum in November 2016, he would be personally engaged in the campaign to secure the necessary “yes vote” for the regional court.

The CCJ was among seven bills that were rejected by the electorate in the first attempt by a Grenada government through a referendum to make changes to the island’s 1974 independence constitution.

Dr. Mitchell believes that the people were confused by the number of bills brought to them coupled with the fact that the CCJ was not fully understood by the people.

He said the CCJ should be given another chance and government is making moves to have another referendum before year-end.

“We decided that the CCJ is not just about Grenada alone, it’s about the Caribbean man and woman and I felt it defines us as a people more than any other bill on the table. In other words, more specifically Grenada and Grenada is part of a wider family, the Caribbean family and it makes sense that the wider family must get its act together and therefore we felt that the CCJ should be the first one that we bring back before the people…”, he told reporters.

PM Mitchell went on to say: “We are involving the same people – the community group, legal professions and other parties, and hopefully we will have everyone playing a very united role going forward because if we do not work together then clearly it’s not necessarily going to pass.

“…I think it will be a tragedy of justice for this country and for the Caribbean and I think it’s about time that we stop having faith in everybody else but ourselves,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell suggested that the region has enough qualified legal persons to dispense justice in the CCJ.

“Our jurists have served regional and international institutions around with distinction and it would be to me almost an insult to say to ourselves that we cannot be responsible for justice in our society and the CCJ so far has demonstrated that it has stood out in terms of its decision-making process and no one can say that the countries that are now part of the CCJ are getting decisions based on the governance of those in political office, so in that sense the people should be very happy”, he said.

“It’s a very independent judicial process and I certainly as a Grenadian and a Caribbean man, I certainly would want to support it. I would play a much more active role this time than I did the last time,” he added.

In an effort to scoff at the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which did not win a seat in the March 13 general election, Prime Minister Mitchell recalled its failure to give support to some of the other bills in the 2016 referendum.

“I think the opposition would agree with me today that the other bills were more in their interest than the government’s interest. I think they made a fundamental mistake. If they had agreed to the question of the Opposition Leader being appointed, if there is no seats available and the Lower house chosen by the people, we would not be talking about the absence of an Opposition Leader in the Parliament and three Senators from the opposition – we would not be talking this, would not be hearing any word about the electoral process…”, he told reporters.

“I believe in them still, I am not seeing this thing as an NNP thing. The question of limiting the terms of a Prime Minister can’t be an NNP thing. In fact, I believe many of these things failed because people perceive that they were trying to cut me out, unfortunately that’s how people spun it and I don’t see it that way. I think it is about our future,” he said.

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