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CCJ President respects the outcome of referenda in two Caribbean countries

CCJ President respects the outcome of referenda in two Caribbean countries

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 7, CMC – President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, said that the court would continue “ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies” in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada despite the population in those two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries voting in favour of retaining the London-based Privy Council as  their final court.

“While the news is not what we hoped for, we respect the people of both nations and their decision,” Justice Saunders said in a statement following Tuesday’s referenda in the two countries.

CCJ President – Justice Adrian Saunders

“One of the positives that came out of this exercise is that there was sustained public education in both nations and the conversation about the CCJ intensified. We can see the fact that there was more interest in our website, ccj.org, and on our social media platforms, on LinkedIn and Twitter.

“As we begin to implement our strategic plan for the 2019-2023, which includes a renewed focus on public education, we will certainly be taking advantage of the increased audience, and the interest that has been piqued, to provide more information about the work of the Court,” Justice Saunders said.

The governments in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada had hoped to join Belize, Barbados, Dominica and Guyana as the only CARICOM countries that are full members of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court.

The CCJ, which has both an Original and Appellate Jurisdiction, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-mdmber regional integration movement.

Justice Saunders said despite the defeat, the CCJ “will naturally continue ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies in each of these countries, and the wider Caribbean, through the JURIST project and otherwise.”

The turnout in the referendum in both countries were low.

In Grenada, of 21, 979 votes cast, some 9,846 persons voted to adopt the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal,, while in Antigua and Barbuda, there were 9,234 votes against and 8,509 votes in favour of the adoption of the CCJ.

“These results will not, of course, deter us from serving with distinction those nations that currently send their final appeals to us. As well, the Court will also continue to process and hear applications from all CARICOM States, and from CARICOM itself, in our Original Jurisdiction, and our justice reform work in the region will also continue,” Justice Saunders said.

The CCJ noted that Grenada has an Original Jurisdiction case currently before the Court and that the JURIST Project, which is a multiyear justice reform project being implemented by the CCJ on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM states, is working on a Sexual Offences Model Court to be housed at the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.

The CCJ Academy of Law is also hosting a legal conference in Jamaica in December 2018 at which jurists from both countries, as well as the wider Caribbean, are participating, the CCJ added.

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Prime Minister Mitchell disappointed at results

Prime Minister Mitchell disappointed at results

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 6, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Tuesday said he was disappointed at the results of a referendum that would allowed Grenada to join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final court..

Grenadians voted for a second time within a two year period, to reject efforts to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s highest court.

In a national referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) show that the “No’ vote secured 12,133 as compared to 9,846 for those supporting the CCJ that was established in 2001.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip, said that 22,098 or 28 per cent of registered voters participated in the referendum. Off that number there were 119 rejected ballots, 9846 for the approval and 12133 voted against the approval. In terms of percentage, he explained that 45.05 per cent for the change and 54.39 per cent against the change.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

“The people have voted based on what they wished to see. As a serious Democrat it (result) has been accepted. I am not happy with it but that has always been my position when results of electiopns are given,” Mitchell said.

“I am disappointed but I am in total acceptance of the results,” he added.

After casting his ballot on Tuesday, an optimistic Mitchell had said he was confident of receiving the necessary two-thirds majority of the votes cast in getting Grenada to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the CARICOM countries that are full members of the CCJ.

But he said he would not as prime minister be initiating a third referendum on the CCJ. In 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation, including that of the CCJ, which would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

They voted by a margin of 9,492 in favour with 12,434 against.

“I have said before…if this thing does not work then the opposition doesn’t have anything to celebrate. They may have a lot of questions to answer. That is my own personal position.

“History will also record who took what position when something of absolutely crucial to the life of the people of the country was in fact initiated and who did what.

“I am very clear in my conscience that I did the right thing that I firmly believe the CCJ is in fact the court that should be dealing with our final judicial system in the region and I have no doubt that history will prove me right,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who lead his New National Party (NNP) to a complete sweep of the 15 seats in the March 13 general elections this year,  said the opposition had engaged in “cheap propaganda” and had been able to confuse the voters ahead of the poll.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, had urged the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken  because members were not satisfied with the process.

“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.

But Mitchell said everyone has a conscience and lamented the “hypocrisy” of some Grenadians on the whole issue.

“I am saying it again that I will not initiate another attempt at this issue as prime minister of the country. I hold very dearly to this particular position,” Mitchell said, adding that the future of the next generation is at stake.

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Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne -740

Prime Minister Browne disappointed at outcome of referendum on CCJ

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 7, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed his “utmost disappointment” at the failure of  his administration to get voters to support the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Antigua and Barbuda’s final court.

In a referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) showed that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Antigua and Barbuda P M Gaston Browne

Antigua and Barbuda’s final court is the London-based Privy Council and the island had hoped to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have so far made the CCJ their final court.

The CCJ also operates as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

“We knew that getting 67 per cent of the votes was an extremely daunting task, practically un-achievable without the support of the main opposition party,’ Prime Minister Browne said.

“The support of the opposition was very important to mitigate against the natural inclination of electors to vote no in a referendum and this is a point that I raised during the initial consultation (on the CCJ) ,” he added.

But the leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell said that the results of the referendum should be viewed as a personal assessment of Prime Minister Browne’ stewardship.

Harold Lovell

“This was really a referendum about the prime minister….In Antigua it was a referendum about Gaston Browne and he was not able to bring out not more than 8,000 people …even though they were talking about he is going to command his people to do this and do that”

Lovell said that of the 20,000 odd people who voted for the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) in the last general election held earlier this year, “only 8,000 came out and yet he is now blaming the United Progressive Party.

“Our position was take the politics out, let us build a coalition of people and listen to people and go forward with that approach. Cursing people,…calling people  backward, stupid, dunce that type of thing, that’s not how you build a successful coalition,” Lovell said.

He said the UPP would continue to support constitutional reform “and we believe this is a time when we must listen to what people are saying”.

But Prime Minister Browne told reporters that the opposition had succeeding in undermining the desire to replace the Privy Council accusing them of spreading lies and instilling fear in the population.

Browne said the results showed that “no one” won in the end.

“The outcome even though disappointing was not surprising. I am satisfied that my government discharged its responsibility by making the option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda to make justice available to all at the Apex level and to bring our final court to the Caribbean.

“My biggest disappointment is the impact of this failure on future constitutional reforms. It is unlikely that my government will, in the circumstances and in the absence of political maturity and magnanimity pursue any further constitutional reform in the near future,” Browne said.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the necessary support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (Tuesday) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

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Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antigua and Barbuda vote in favour of staying with the Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 6, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Tuesday voted in favour of retaining the London-based Privy Council as its final court, according to the preliminary figures released here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Voters here had been casting ballots to decide whether to retain the Privy Council or instead move to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to be the region’s final court.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne had hoped that Antigua and Barbuda would have joined Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to be full members of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty governing the 15-member CARICOM grouping.

“I have discharged my responsibility to make the option of transitioning from the Privy Council to the Caribbean Court of Justice available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda. I think it is a great opportunity for them.

“ I urge them to go out and vote “yes” …and in any event whatever the decision I will be guided accordingly, but as far as I am concerned I have delivered in the responsibility to make this very important option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” Prime Minister Browne said, soon after casting his ballot on Tuesday.

But the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has said it is not supportive of the move to replace the Privy Council and had urged supporters to vote their conscience.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry said it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“We must redouble our efforts at deeper and fuller education of our institutions and ;place them within the curriculum of our schools in the region,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had conducted an opinion poll and had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the required support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (today) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 6, CMC – Grenadians voted for a second time within a two year period, to reject efforts to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s highest court.

In a national referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) show that the “No’ vote secured 12,133  as compared to 9,846  for those supporting the efforts to replacing the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Grenadians voting in referendum (File Photo)

While most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction.

The PEO said a total of 79,401 people were registered to vote in the referendum, where the voters were asked to either support or vote against the question “Do you approve the Bill for an Act proposing to alter the constitution of Grenada cited as Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and renaming of Supreme Court) (Amendment) Bill 2018?”

The country needed a two-thirds majority of the total number of ballots cast for it to join the CCJ.

In 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation, including that of the CCJ, which would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

They voted by a margin of 9,492 in favour with 12,434 against.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, soon after casting his ballot told reporters that if the referendum fails, there will not be another attempt to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ under his leadership.

Mitchell had said he was “quietly confident” that the two-thirds majority would have been achieved in getting Grenada to join the CCJ.

“I really don’t have a problem with voices who say they want to say no but to concoct false stories to confuse people, for what I reason I don’t know,” he said, “this is not about party, this is about our children and grandchildren”.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, had urged the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken  because members were not satisfied with the process.

“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.

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CCJ President - Justice Saunders

CCJ President disappointed in his fellow Vincentians

TORONTO, Oct 31, CMC – The President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Adrian Saunders, said he had hoped that his elevation to that post would have united people in his homeland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in having the institution as the country’s final court.

Addressing a ceremony here to mark the 39th anniversary of political independence for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Justice Saunders said that it is often an embarrassing situation for him to be explaining to his colleagues from around the world, the position of some CARICOM countries’ to the court that was established in 2001 to replace to the London-based Privy Council.

Justice Adrian Saunders

“I had hoped that with my elevation to the presidency of the CCJ, I would be able to get all parties in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to put aside their political differences and to embrace the court in its appellate jurisdiction,” Justice Saunders told the ceremony over the last weekend.

Speaking at the event organised by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organisation of Toronto on the theme “Remembering Our Past – Focussing On Our Future”, the prominent regional jurist said, “if  we are to advance as a people, politics and political tussles are important for a healthy democracy. “But there are eternal core human values that are overarching. Truth, compassion, cooperation, caring, courtesy, empathy, hard honest labour … These are values Opposition and Government alike and indeed, all the people, must promote,” he said.

The Ralph Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party (ULP) is in support of the CCJ and in July said that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court had indicated that two-thirds majority support of lawmakers, rather than a referendum is needed to replace the Privy Council.

Gonsalves said he is willing to bring such a law to Parliament but would only do so if he has opposition support.

However, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Dr. Godwin Friday has made it clear that it would not support a move to the CCJ.

In comments earlier this year, Friday, an attorney, said that the electorate had rejected such a move when given a choice in a referendum in 2009, adding that Parliament should respect voters’ choices.

He, however, said that if another referendum is held on the issue, his party would rally its supporters in an attempt to vote it down.

In his address, Justice Saunders said that there is another value that is paramount and is vital for the citizens of the Caribbean “with our fractured experiences of slavery and colonialism.

“That other value is self-belief. A clear sense of ourselves. An understanding of our worth as human beings; an appreciation that we are not inferior to anyone and that we have the capacity to forge our own destiny,” he said.

Justice Saunders said his heart soars when he hears of Vincentians who excel regionally or internationally.

“Because that becomes for me a re-affirmation of our worth, our capacity,” he said, adding that no one shrieked for joy louder than he did when West Indies cricketer Obed McKoy, a Vincentian, bowled Indian cricketer MS Dhoni last week.

“It is, therefore, for me, a source of profound disappointment, that so many people in the region, including Vincentians who I assumed would know better, contrive to find excuse upon excuse to justify the anomaly that, after 40 years of political independence, we are content to have our laws ultimately interpreted and applied by a British institution, staffed with British judges all of whom reside in Britain.

“History will not be kind to those who argue that such a situation should continue,” said Justice Saunders, the third Caribbean national to head the Trinidad-based CCJ.

He said this is no different than a man today wanting St. Vincent and the Grenadines to return to Associated Statehood status, or wanting to write O Level exams from Britain’s Cambridge University instead of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

“For me, it is like choosing Major Leith over Chatoyer,” he said, contrasting the Scottish soldier who served in the British Army, to St. Vincent and the Grenadines sole National Hero, who led a years-long guerrilla war in the 18th Century against European attempt to colonise SVG.

Justice Saunders noted that over 15 years ago, CARICOM established its own final court — the CCJ — and spent US$100 million to guarantee the court’s sustainability.

“… the Court has successfully been operating for well over 10 years serving the needs of Barbados, Guyana, Belize and lately, Dominica; and some people still wish to cling to the Privy Council?” he said, mentioning the CARICOM nations that have replaced the Privy Council with the CCJ as their final appellate court.

“If Chatoyer, who put his life on the line, were alive today just imagine, what would he think of this?.

The CCJ President said when he tries to explain to his colleagues from Asia, Africa and Latin America — as he is “sometimes obliged to do at judicial colloquia” — the “anomaly” of CARICOM nations not having replaced the Privy Council with the CCJ, “it ceases to be an anomaly.

“In the face of the disbelief expressed by my colleagues, it becomes an embarrassment because it is linked directly to our perception of ourselves and the level of confidence we have in our capacity to take full responsibility for our own governance.”

Justice Saunders said he addressed a graduating class at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) earlier this month and he remained confident “that the ill-informed would become better informed.

“That the sceptical would become convinced. I look to the future and I remain confident that, as is the case with, for example, The Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Examinations Council, and The University of the West Indies (to name just a few), the time will come when the CCJ also will be recognised as another of those Caribbean institutions whose vital contribution to the region can almost be taken for granted.

“As we focus on the future, it is essential that we appreciate that we can and must rely on ourselves to forge our own destiny. We can and must build a stronger St Vincent and the Grenadines and an equally strong Caribbean Community,” he said.

Two CARICOM nations, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda, will hold referenda on November 6 to decide whether to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ as their highest court.

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Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 30, CMC – The majority of people in Antigua and Barbuda favour replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Appeal, according to an opinion poll released here on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) found that 62 per cent of the 800 people polled during the period October 12-14, said they supported a move to the Trinidad-based CCJ as the island’s final court.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote in a referendum on November 6.

CADRES said that the opinion poll was devoted to an exploration of the referendum issue and sought to understand how Antiguans felt about the CCJ in principle and also how they planned to vote on November 6 .

“In addition, questions as to major reasons why people supported and opposed the CCJ were explored in an effort to provide some amount of context on this issue,” the pollster said, adding that the methodology used was similar to that of previous CADRES polls in Antigua and Barbuda.

It said the face to face survey exercise was conducted by interviewers who administered a short, standardised questionnaire to approximately 800 respondents that were randomly selected from all constituencies across Antigua.

According to CADRES, the majority of those polled (62 per cent) said they “Supported the move to the CCJ” either now or in the future, while 17 per cent said they “did not support the move to the CCJ” and 22 per cent preferred “not to say” how they felt about this issue.

“Thereafter respondents were presented with a list of possible reasons why they would vote “For” or “Against” the CCJ and asked to indicate which single reason appealed to them most. Among those who supported the CCJ, the most compelling reason was the suggestion that the CCJ was “cheaper to access” while” those who opposed the CCJ thought that it would be “more open to political influence”.

CADRES said that responses to the central question of how persons intend to vote at this time if restricted to those committed to vote either “For” or “Against” demonstrate that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has narrowly been achieved at this time.

However, CADRES would caution that this outcome could be affected either by any variation in the margin of error of the poll (+/- 5%) or if the participation of the Barbudan voters (two per cent) shifts the pendulum away from the “Yes” vote”.

CADRES acknowledged that the views of Barbudans were not canvased on this occasion, but noted that a 2016 poll did cover the island still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

“Comparatively, we note a marginal improvement in the level of support for the CCJ, a plus two per cent compared to a marginal reduction in the level of opposition, a minus two per cent, which can easily be explained by the exclusion of Barbuda on this occasion which was purely on account of our client’s timeline for completion”.

In October 2016 CADRES indicated that it felt the referendum would “narrowly achieve the margin necessary for the measure to pass” and at this time “we are similarly persuaded, but caution that the margin here is “razor thin”.

CADRES said it also explored the reasons for support and opposition more exhaustively and noted that the primary characteristic that separated those “For” from those “Against” is their political affiliation with supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) being more inclined to support the CCJ, while supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) are less inclined.

“This relationship was noted in 2016 an is no less pronounced on this occasion, notwithstanding efforts to de-politicise the vote. There were; however other reasons for support and opposition gleaned on this occasion and we believe that this information will be a useful basis for dialogue in the final weeks leading up to November 6, 2018,” CADRES said.

The CCJ was established by regional governments on 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean final court. But while most of the regional countries are members of the court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaraas that governs the regional integration movement.

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, voters will also be casting ballots in a referendum on November 6 on the CCJ issue.

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Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

By Linda Straker

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 29, CMC – Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David has called on Grenadians to put aside their petty political differences and vote in favour of a referendum that will allow the island to replace the London-based Privy Council as its final court.

The referendum is schedule for November 6, the same day another when Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country stages its own referendum on whether to replace the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Foreign Minister Peter David (left) and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell (File Photo)

Speaking at the convention of the ruling New National party (NNP) on Sunday, David said “I want to speak to everybody out there, who loves Grenada, who loves this country let us for once put Grenada first”.

David, who was retained as assistant General Secretary, said there should be support for the CCj that was established by CARICOM leaders in 2001 as the region’s final court and which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the r4gional integration movement.

“If you believe in the CCJ, if you NDC (National Democratic Congress), NNP, PLP (People’s Labour Party), whatever you are, let us vote CCJ,” David said.

“I heard the leaders of the trade unions say they support the CCJ, I have heard the church leaders say they support the CCJ, I have heard the leader of the NNP say he supports CCJ, I have never heard so many sectors of our country say they support something,” said David.

“It’s the one time when I see that leaders have unanimity on an issue, everybody says they support it, well if you do support it then vote for it because you cannot allow petty differences, to stop us. I am speaking to my friends who are not here, you cannot allow partisan tribalism as you had allowed in 1983 to separate us.

“If we support it, we support it. If the leaders of the trade union movement say they support it, then vote for it on November 6. The workers who follow them must do what they say and support it, if the leaders of the NDC say they support it, then members of the NDC should vote for it, if the leader of the NNP says he supports it and the party supports it, then the party members must support it, the point I am making is this, we have to come together,” said David.

“Let us disagree on other issues, let us disagree about other kinds of things, there is enough to disagree on, but let us agree on what we agree on. If not now, then when? If is over 100 years we fighting for independence, we have the chance now so let us do it,” David told the NNP convention.

He said that when Grenada got its independence in 1974 from Britain, London gave the island a court that citizens had no say in deciding upon.

“Did any of you vote for this two-thirds majority? We just got it because the British give it to us; We have a chance now to assert our independence, we have a chance to agree on something. I urge all of you to go out and get your people to vote, mobilise, take your car and seek them out to vote for CCJ,” he recommended.

“It is a chance for us to say to the world that Grenada can unite on something, it is a chance for us to say to the world that we are one on an issue. It is chance for us to present to the world that we are a proud people, an independent people,” said the foreign minister.

“I don’t want to bow my head in shame when I am ask what Grenada do when asked about our independence and bringing our court system into our jurisdiction and I have to say we voted against it.

“I don’t want to be going into the corridors of power throughout the world as the foreign minister and having to explain, well you know sir everybody agreed with it but because we belong to different tribes they voted against it,” said David, adding “we are one tribe, we are Grenada, I say this to my NDC brethren, to my church brethren, to my labour brethren, we are one, let us agree and vote for the CCJ”.

Political leader and Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell told his supporters that they should see a yes vote as an investment for future generations.

“Give this exercise support, see this vote as one for our children and grandchildren future, don’t just vote but encourage others to vote,” he said.

Two years ago, Grenadians voted 12,434 to 9,492 against the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill in a November 2016 referendum.

The CCJ Bill was one of seven which the electorate voted on separately in 2016. A two-thirds majority was needed for the amendments to pass, but all seven Bills were rejected by voters.

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Husband awaits outcome after changed guilty plea

Husband awaits outcome after changed guilty plea

Royal Montserrat Police Service has informed that on October 20, 2018 about 4:30am police officers responded to a domestic dispute report in the Olveston area.

On arrival at the scene it was revealed that the parties concerned are husband and wife. At the time the wife was met with a wound to her head. She was taken to the Glendon Hospital where she was seen, treated and discharged after receiving four sutures to her injury. The husband was subsequently arrested and taken to Police headquarters where he was later charged, with the following offences: armed with offensive weapon and wounding.

On October 26, 2018 the husband appeared at the Magistrate Court where the matter was adjourned to December 14, 2018 for sentencing.

Follow-up enquiry on the information revealed that the husband pleaded guilty at the hearing, but on advice changed his plea after explaining to the magistrate the circumstances of his actions.

Posted in Court, Crime, Local, News, Police0 Comments

CCJ President - Justice Saunders

CCJ President perplexed at Caribbean people’s non acceptance of regional court

Staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 20, CMC – President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of

CCJ President – Justice Saunders

Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, says after 50 years of political independence,  he remains perplexed that Caribbean people are still finding “excuses” in support of the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

Justice Saunders, who will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) later on Saturday, said that he remains confident that like other regional institutions, the CCJ will be embraced by all the people of the Caribbean.

“I remain confident that, as is the case with, for example, The Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Examinations Council, and of course The University of the West Indies, to name just a few, the time will come when the CCJ also will be recognised as another of those Caribbean institutions whose vital contribution to the region can almost be taken for granted,” he told a dinner here on  Friday night on behalf of his fellow graduand Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Professor of Entomology at the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science.

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court. But while all the Caribbean countries have signed on to the Court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will hold national referendums on November 6 on whether or not to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ.

Justice Saunders told the ceremony that it is vital for Caribbean people with their fractured experiences over the past four centuries to have self-belief.

“A clear sense of ourselves. An understanding of our worth as human beings and of our ability to forge our own destiny…

“It is perplexing to me, for example, that so many people in the region contrive to find excuse upon excuse to justify the anomaly that, after 50 years of political independence, the laws that we proudly make should ultimately be interpreted and applied by a British institution, staffed with British judges all of whom reside in Britain.

“This, after CARICOM states, over 15 years ago, established their own Court, precisely to serve that purpose. This, after US$100 million was spent to guarantee that Court’s sustainability. This, after the Court, has successfully been operating for well over 10 years serving the needs of some States. “

He said that when he tries to explain this to his colleagues from Asia, Africa and Latin America, as he is sometimes obliged to do at judicial colloquia “this ceases to be an anomaly.

“In the face of the incredulity expressed by my colleagues, it becomes an embarrassment linked directly to our perception of ourselves and the level of confidence we have in our capacity to take full responsibility for our own governance…”

Justice Saunders, the third Caribbean national after Trinidadian Michael de La Bastide and St. Kitts-Nevis national Sir Dennis Byron to head the Trinidad-based CCJ, said “I temper my perplexity, I look to the future and I remain confident.

“I remain confident that our institutions of learning, and UWI in particular, will rise to the challenge of inspiring our students with the notion that Caribbean people are inferior to no one; that we do have the capacity to govern ourselves, to build and maintain worthy institutions;

“That we are able to and that we do produce the human resources effectively to manage such bodies; that these institutions, when locally established, work for us in ways in which no others can; and that if we observe carefully, objectively, we will see these truths demonstrated over and over again. Yes, I remain confident.”

In his address, Justice Saunders said the UWI, after 70 years in operation, has every right to be proud of its achievements.

“Its student enrolment has grown from a few dozen persons when it opened its doors in Mona in 1948 to tens of thousands at the present time. More importantly, UWI alumni now occupy leading positions in all fields of life, in all professions, in the region.

“It is fair to say that the realisation of the dreams and aspirations of the people of the Caribbean Community, in large measure, rest with those who have graduated this institution,” the CCJ President said.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines born jurist said that while it is a huge credit to the university with main campuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica, “it also generates enormous expectations, especially in the context of the times in which we live.

“This is the age where information has never before been as accessible as it is today. The ability to publish information to millions of persons has never been easier. That ability can be a powerful force for good. It makes it possible for all of humanity, instantly, to be mobilised behind the most impactful endeavours.

“But the opposite is also possible. Nameless, faceless publishers, with hidden agendas, can manipulate public opinion, sometimes with tremendous political, economic and social consequences. Innocent recipients of information have the greatest difficulty distilling truth from falsehood; sincerity from deliberate deception; democracy from populism.”

Justice Saunders said that in the face of these realities, “it behoves all of us, but especially institutions of higher learning, to prepare present and succeeding generations to rally around eternal core human values.

“Truth, Compassion, Cooperation, Caring, Courtesy, Peace, Empathy, Hard honest labour … These are values we must safeguard and promote if we are to take full advantage of the rich bounty the information revolution makes available to us,” he said, paying “tribute to the tutelage and guidance that I and so many others have received from the eminent faculty that have taught at the University”.

 

Posted in CARICOM, Court, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

Justice Adrian Saunders - CCJ

CCJ President to receive UWI honorary doctorate

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 19, CMC – The President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, will receive an honorary doctorate from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Justice Saunders will be conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws during the UWI graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Justice Adrian Saunders – CCJ

He will also be a guest speaker at The UWI’s graduation dinner on Friday night. Justice Saunders will be speaking on behalf of his fellow graduand Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Professor of Entomology at the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science.

“I am most appreciative of this honour that The UWI will bestow upon me and I am incredibly humbled and honoured by this recognition. I will accept it gratefully on behalf of my parents and siblings, my family, my colleagues at the CCJ, and all the people I have worked with who have all contributed to my success,” said Justice Saunders, who is the third Caribbean national to head the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

“I would be remiss if I did not also mention the role that the  UWI has played in my success. My years at UWI gave me a depth of knowledge and a foundation that I am indebted to the institution for. Those years also provided me with mentors, life-long friends and many fond memories,” he added.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines-born native  holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the UWI in 1975 and a Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago in 1977.

The CCJ President said that the UWI had over the past 70 years been able to nurture generations of Caribbean leaders, as well as making an indelible mark on the development of the region.

 

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, CARICOM, Court, Education, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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