TUC express reservations on CCJ bill

A Labour Movement has called for Constitutional changes that would allow Grenadians to appeal electoral matters at the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Labour Representative in the Senate, Andre Lewis has said that Parliament should not be beyond the reach of the CCJ which the Keith Mitchell-led government is seeking to have replace the British-based Privy Council.

Under Section 37 (7) of the Grenada Constitution, appeals are not allowed to the Privy Council regarding “Determination of questions as to the membership of Parliament”.

As it stands now an “Election Petition” can only be taken to the High Court and then up to the level of the OECS Appeals Court and cannot be heard at the level of the Privy Council.

According to Lewis, the TUC believes that in the current amendments to the Grenada Constitution, it is necessary to give citizens of Grenada the right to appeal the outcome of a General Election to the High Court, Appeals Court and if necessary to the CCJ.

The “Caribbean Court of Justice and Renaming of Court Amendment Bill 2018” is seeking to pave the way for the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction as well as the renaming of the Supreme Court of Grenada.

The Bill approved by parliament, and to be voted on November 6 in a referendum, excludes the right to appeal matters related to disputes on the outcome of an election or the composition of Parliament to the CCJ.

Lewis labelled this as “a glaring omission” and suggested that if it is an oversight, then it should be put right before the Referendum takes place.

At a recent Town Hall meeting to discuss the upcoming Referendum, Lewis said that, “if it is deliberate then the question must be asked – why do the politicians want everyone else but them to submit to the CCJ given that it is “We court”, fully independent and super-efficient?

Grenada’s last General Elections results have been questioned based on a large number of procedural flaws and suspicion of voter padding but there have been no legal challenges.
Lewis said: “I firmly believe that the CCJ must be given power over all – the “Membership of Parliament” must not be beyond its reach. There is no valid argument why this should not be so.

“Grenadians must be allowed to challenge the outcome of a General Elections up to the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice”, he added.

Lewis, who leads the Technical and Allied Workers Union said he firmly believes that the current CCJ Bill is unacceptable with this glaring omission.

The Mitchell-led government is currently engaged in heightened campaigning to try and get the electorate to give the CCJ bill the necessary two-third majority support to effect the change in the court system in the constitution.

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