Just two days after the Grenadian voting public rejected the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final Court of Appeal in a referendum, history was made with the first-ever sitting of the CCJ in its original jurisdiction in Grenada.
The case which was done via video-conferencing at High Court No. 1 at St. John’s Street, St. George’s last Thursday was heard by CCJ Judges, President Adrian Saunders, along with Justices Jacob Wit, Winston Charles Anderson, David Hayton, and Rajnauth Lee.
Local attorney-at-law and CCJ advocate, Ruggles Ferguson of Ciboney Chambers represented the Gilbert Family while Barbados was represented by a lawyer within the Office of the Solicitor-General.
Ferguson told reporters after the sitting that it was merely a management of the case involving the Gilbert Family of Springs, St. George who is seeking justice for an alleged unpleasant and hostile abuse meted out to them at the hands of police officers in Barbados during a visit to the island on October 11th, 2016.
The Gilberts are taking legal action against the Royal Barbados Police Force, following the embarrassing episode in which two sisters were detained for questioning in relation to the theft of a cellular phone belonging to a store owner mere hours before their flight back home.
According to Ferguson, the locals are contending that their rights under the freedom of movement section 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas “were breached by the authorities in Barbados because they are individuals and not a state”.
“The matter is in the original jurisdiction of the CCJ which is responsible for interpreting and applying the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which deals of course with CSME and freedom of movement and the court had case managed the matter, identifying the activities leading up to the hearing of the matter”, he said.
He said the court gave a determination as to how the case would proceed including everything the parties had to do in order to ensure that the trial takes place.
He spoke of both sides having to prepare their legal submission on whether or not the treatment meted out to the Gilberts breached their rights under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“There will be written submissions first and on the 15th (January), you have the oral hearing where your written submissions are supplemented by oral submissions, questions from the court, clarification on issues, which we wish to have clarified and you advance your case at the hearing, from that they’ll rule either leave (to commence proceedings against Barbados) is granted or not granted,” he remarked.
Ferguon addressed the issue about the relevance of the case and how it has an effect on everyone.
He said: “The case speaks about freedom of movement within, its relevance not just to the Gilberts but to everybody who travels, every single traveller …because the court has set out the principles of how the revised treaty should be interpreted for CARICOM nationals who travel within the region and in this particular case.
“Hopefully, the case would set out the parameters with respect to even freedom of travel within. Whatever comes out of this case though, it has highlighted this issue of persons experiencing that kind of problem in Barbados, not just Grenadians but travellers throughout the region. It has been a complaint and hopefully, whatever happens, that kind of behaviour which is totally unacceptable in the 21st century will be no more after this case,” he remarked.