November 6 is the date set by the Grenada Government for the second referendum in two years to try and get the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s final appellate court.
The date was given as the promotional activity to the road to Referendum day was launched last Wednesday at an official ceremony held at the Grenada Trade Centre under the theme, “Breaking the Chains of Colonialism for one United Caribbean”.
The interactive session heard speeches from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, special guest, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Motley and members of the local CCJ Advisory Committee.
Chairman of the CCJ Advisory Committee, Sir Lawrence Joseph told the gathering that the activities leading up to November 6 vote by Grenadians are necessary for prospective voters to learn of the implications of having the CCJ as the final Court of Justice for Grenada instead of the Privy Council.
He said, “Grenada as many other democratic countries, rely on a real court structure. This is necessary in order to resolve the multiplicity of disputes which inevitably arise between parties. These may include disputes involving land and contracts or matrimonial affairs. The courts provide the avenue for resolving those issues.
“…The CCJ is more accessible – it is an itinerant court, encourages electronic processing of cases – the headquarters of the court is based in Port of Spain in Trinidad which is only a few minutes away by air, urgent matters are tried very swiftly, the CCJ is less costly (provides) an opportunity to break the chains of colonialism, Grenada is no longer a colony of England, it is an independent state, it’s an opportunity to have one united Caribbean…even if Grenada received independence status from Britain on February 7th, 1974, the Privy Council remains as a distinctive colonial medallion around our necks.”
Prime Minister Mitchell focused on the bold move that will be made by Grenadians in the next two months to vote on signing onto the CCJ.
He said: “There comes a time in a country when bold decisions become absolutely necessary. The growth and development of individuals and nations are often synonymous with bold decisions and the time has come in this land of ours to make a bold decision. Therefore, tonight we take this opportunity to announce that the November 6th, 2018, our country, our citizens to make one such bold decision to vote in a national referendum for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to replace the Privy Council as the final Court of Appeal for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“…This sisters and brothers will indeed be a bold decision, a decision that shapes the future of our country and of our region – a decision that signals our unwavering support and commitment to regional integration, a decision that places us on a trajectory to achieve even greater economic success”, he added.
Dr. Mitchell stated that replacing the Privy Council as Grenada’s final appellate court is beneficial for a number of reasons and in his capacity as Prime Minister, he implored on citizens to “move in our next phase of evolution as an independent nation where we accede to the CCJ as our final appellate court.”
Prime Minister Motley referred to the upcoming referendum in Grenada as a natural extension to the freedom that citizens have in Grenada and in the Caribbean.
“I commend the Government of Grenada and the people of Grenada and the opposition of Grenada for placing this courageous decision back before the people of Grenada at this time and for mounting this comprehensive public education programme.
“People must understand fundamentally, that the court is simply the best way that you can resolve decisions in your life, not even the country’s life but your life because freedom is choice and if you don’t have choice, you don’t have freedom and if you can’t afford it and you can’t access it, then you don’t have choice.”
PM Motley noted that the concern over the impartiality of the CCJ because of political interference is a non-issue as the court is well poised to delivering unbiased rulings, noting that it is financed only by itself.
She said: “There is fear…that the court would be subjected to political interference and would not be capable of acting impartial. I want to assure you that the scrupulous nature that has been taken to insulate the matter of the appointment of judges to the financing of court from political influence has more than nullified this concern.
And that’s what I mean when I say that I am so happy tonight to be speaking from the perspective from what our reality has been than when I had to speak 14 and 15 years ago to persuade people that this was a dream and could be possible…it was to be a court that has his own money…”.
In 2016, the CCJ and six other bills piloted by government in its attempt to change the Grenada Constitution were rejected by the people in the first ever referendum to be held since the island attained its independence from Great Britain on February 7, 1974.
Buoyed by another historic15-0 victory at the polls in March, Prime Minister Mitchell is confident that his personal involvement in the CCJ campaign will be able to pull it off this time around in the upcoming referendum.