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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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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”.

 

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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.

 

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NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 3, CMC – The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) spearheading the public education and sensitization programme on the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Dr. Clarence Henry, Wednesday dismissed suggestions that the campaign leading up to next month’s referendum is “one–sided” and appealed to nationals to get as much information on the issue ahead of the vote.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote on November 6 on whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ as the island’s highest and final court.

Dr. Clarence Henry

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce and the NCC, Henry urged nationals to ensure they are well informed on the issue before casting their ballots next month.

“Let your voices be heard. Please be an arm chair pundit utilizing the safety of your chair or bedroom to speak to the issues,” he said, noting “every time we approach persons who support the Privy Council to engage as a panelist, only a few answer the call.
“Yet I hear the untrue accusation of one-sided campaign. That is far from the truth or reality,” he said, insisting that the question in the education drive is whether Antigua and Barbuda should migrate from the Privy Council to the Trinidad-based CCJ.

“The voting public will determine that question in a referendum on November 6…, much like general elections, where you are required to go visit the prescribed voting station, and in the booth answer “yes” or “no”. It is your decision that will determine Antigua and Barbuda’s fate.”

He acknowledged the results of the referendum will have “wide ranging implications for the country’s future,” saying that the mandate of the NCC is to help in that determination by providing the requisite information and facts so that voters could make an informed choice.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, brother and sisters, comrades: please take these matters seriously. Please do not ignore the discussions, but take the time to obtain the unadulterated truth. Do not go down the wrong path believing that the decision on referendum day will not affect you. It will.”

He said he was challenging voters not to be overwhelmed by the avalanche of information, but carefully sift through to determine what fake or genuine.

“Only you, can determine that through research. There are a large volume of primary and secondary materials to assist in your discovery of the facts.

“Moreover, I urge you to critically analyze what the purveyors of gloom and doom, those arm-chair pundits that meddle in every discussion, who pretend to be the bastions of wisdom and the paragons of virtue on every conceivable subject, who never seem to see the greater good in developmental matters, only to espouse negative traits of discouragement ignoring the essence of a pragmatic vision surrounding the development of our countries. “

Henry said the time has come for Antigua and Barbuda to seriously discuss the ramifications of staying with the Privy Council or going with the CCJ  saying pivotal to the discussions is the macro-economic, political and legislative underpinning of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) “ the platform for growth and sustainable development of our countries”.

The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories to its Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the court’s Appellate jurisdiction. The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

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Opposition Leader wins defamation lawsuit against her former cabinet colleague

Opposition Leader wins defamation lawsuit against her former cabinet colleague

 

October 10, 2018
88 views
 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 10, CMC – A High Court Wednesday ruled in favour of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar, in her defamation lawsuit against the Sunshine Publishing Company Limited owned by Austin Jack Warner, who once served as a senior minister in her coalition People’s Partnership government.

Austin Jack Warner and Kamla Persad Bissessar in happier times (File Photo)

Persad Bissessar had taken the legal action after the newspaper published an article on December 4, 2015, under the headline “Kamla facing extradition to US”.

The article was based on an October 12, 2012 letter allegedly from then United States Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

When the matter came up for hearing in the San Fernando High Court, south of here on Wednesday, Persad Bissessar confirmed that the contents of her witness statement filed in March 2017, were true.

Justice David Harris said there is to be damages for libel inclusive of aggravating and exemplary damages and cost for the claimant. He also ordered that there be an injunction restricting the defendant from further publishing the allegation or any similar allegation and cost for the claim.

Damages are to be assessed before a Master on a date to be fixed.

Warner was not present in court.

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Oct 10, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says joining the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is not a priority for his coalition administration in St Kitts and Nevis.

Harris, speaking on WINN FM radio here said that his government is not treating membership of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, as a priority at this time.

“In terms of the CCJ the cabinet has not made a determination with respect to that matter, it is a matter we will perhaps consider at a more proficient time. At this moment I think there is a sense that the Privy Council is favoured by the national community,” Harris said.

St. Kitts-Nevis is among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have signed on to the original Jurisdiction of the CCJ. However, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatoresi to the appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are due to hold national referendum on November 6 to determine whether or not to replace the Privy Council.

Harris told radio listeners that the issue of replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ is among the matters “that before we attend to this we will put before the people, have an educational programme with regard to any movement away from the Privy Council and get a good grounding from the people where they want to go because there are very strong views for and against on that one.

“It is a matter someday we will have to confront, we don’t need to confront it today, so it is not a priority consideration at this time for the Team Unity administration,” he added.

Former CCJ president, Sir Dennis Byron, a citizen of the twin island Federation, said recently that the CCJ is not a party issue and that a referendum often requires a two-thirds majority for change.

“What has been happening in our country is because of the cost, and the complexities and the difficulty of going to the Privy Council our people have not been having a final appeal. They just have a case and a court of appeal and most people have to stop there even if they are not satisfied.

“The CCJ has put a stop to that because, in the countries that have adopted our jurisdiction, people are coming to us. It’s easier, it’s cheaper, it’s on the spot and if you look at some of the decisions that we have made it’s impacted on the day to day life of the communities in ways in which the Privy Council never do,’ Sir Dennis had said.

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The Washington Post

GOP’s Grassley says FBI probe finds no hint of ‘misconduct’ by Kavanaugh; Democrats dispute that, say White House restricted FBI

TMR: Here goes! Will the suppresion of truth and minimising of investigation convince those important to the fray and injustice (improper research and investigation and misguided attention to inability to prove supported ‘sexual misconduct’ forgetting or ignoring all the rest that points to underlying misbeliefs, win the day for America and the (western) world eventually? But, it didn’t start there, it just got hightened! Yet it is still unbelievable.
White House says it has received FBI report on Kavanaugh

The White House said Oct. 4 that it had received the FBI’s completed report on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh.

October 4 at 10:56 AM

BREAKING NEWS: The dueling assessments on Thursday came as senators read the FBI background check of the Supreme Court nominee. Brett M. Kavanaugh had faced allegations of sexual misconduct, including an accusation from Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement that the “uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters that the report was a “product of an incomplete investigation.” Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he disagreed with Grassley’s assessment.

The Senate is heading toward a procedural vote on Friday and if Republicans prevail, Kavanaugh would be on track to a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

This a developing story and will be updated.

As the Senate began reviewing the new FBI report on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Thursday, both Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley and the White House stood by President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, saying the investigation found nothing sufficient to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct while Kavanaugh was a teenager.

“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement after being briefed on the report by his staff. “It’s time to vote.”

Democrats have protested that the FBI probe was rushed and too limited in scope, and lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accusers say the bureau declined to interview multiple witnesses who could have backed up their accounts.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Thursday that the FBI agents had reached out to 10 witnesses — nine of whom were interviewed — and that no one had corroborated the account of Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

“The president, the White House are firmly behind Brett Kavanaugh,” Shah said during an appearance Thursday morning on CNN. “We believe that all the Senate’s questions have been addressed through this supplemental FBI investigation.”

In an earlier tweet, Shah said the White House is “fully confident” that the Senate will confirm Kavanaugh, whose nomination has been roiled by the allegations of three women about his behavior more than three decades ago.

 
 
‘Wrong, vile, appalling’: Trump mocking Ford spurs outrage

President Trump’s comments mocking Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on her allegation against Brett M. Kavanaugh caused widespread backlash.

In anticipation of the FBI report’s arrival, on Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) teed up a key vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday.

Until that vote, senators will be rushing in and out of a secure facility at the Capitol to review the sensitive FBI report.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. to speak about the report.

In morning tweets, Trump decried what he said was “harsh and unfair treatment” of Kavanaugh, who has undergone previous FBI background checks for other federal jobs, and accused Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process.

“This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh,” Trump wrote. “If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”

In his statement, Grassley said that “this investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service.”

In tweets starting around 4 a.m., Grassley announced that the panel had received the report from the White House and that he and its top Democrat had “agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by nonpartisan FBI agents.”

The FBI’s report will be available at a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, in the Capitol Visitor Center, a secure room designed for senators to review sensitive or classified material, two Senate officials said. Just one physical copy of the report will be available, and only to senators and 10 committee staffers cleared to view the material.

The two parties will take turns having access to the FBI report in shifts, according to a senior Senate official. It will rotate throughout the rest of the day Thursday and potentially into Friday, with staff members simultaneously briefing senators.

But even before the report was formally sent to the Senate, lawyers for Ford criticized what they viewed as an incomplete FBI probe.

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” her legal team said in a statement. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

On Thursday, a lawyer for Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself while in college, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray making the same claim.

The letter noted that Ramirez had been interviewed by the FBI for two hours Sunday in Colorado and later provided a list of 20 people who might corroborate her account of Kavanaugh’s behavior.

“Fewer than four days, later, however, the FBI apparently has concluded its investigation — without permitting its agents to investigate,” wrote Ramirez lawyer William Pittard. “We are deeply disappointed by this failure.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, also took issue Wednesday with the decision not to interview Ford and Kavanaugh, both of whom testified at a high-stakes hearing last week, suggesting that the White House had prevented the FBI from contacting them.

“Last week’s hearing is no substitute for FBI interviews, especially when you consider the tenor of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony,” Feinstein said in a statement. “When he wasn’t yelling and demeaning senators, he was making misleading statements that cast doubt on his overall trustworthiness. I don’t think that would happen with FBI agents seated across the table.”

The reopened FBI investigation was prompted by reservations expressed last by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) about moving forward on a full Senate vote without further examination of the accusations of Ford and other “credible” accusers.

Even as the White House gave the FBI permission to broaden its examination, it continued to hold the bureau to a strict timeline.

Moreover, the inquiry focused mainly on the account of Ford, the research psychologist who alleges that a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the Washington suburbs.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the White House had restricted the FBI from scrutinizing the nominee’s drinking habits, as well as possible disparities between his alcohol consumption as a young man and his account before Congress.

Much of the focus Thursday will be on the reactions of three Republicans whose votes are considered key to Kavanaugh’s fate: Flake, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

On Wednesday, all three took issue with Trump’s mocking of Ford the night before at a political rally in Mississippi that drew laughs from his supporters.

“What I want is I want to see the report,” Murkowski told reporters last night. “That’s what I’m waiting for.”

Besides Flake, Collins and Murkowski, Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) also have yet to announce how they will vote.

While trying to round up votes on his side, McConnell has also taken sharp aim at Democrats, accusing them of trying to “move the goal posts” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight by suggesting that Friday would be too soon for a key vote on him.

Senate Democrats opened a new front Wednesday in their objections to the investigations of Kavanaugh’s conduct, suggesting in a letter to Grassley that past FBI background checks of Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, without disclosing specifics.

The letter, signed by eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the committee’s Republican staff on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.” 

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” urging the GOP to correct it.

“It is troubling that the committee majority has characterized information from Judge Kavanaugh’s confidential background investigation on Twitter, as that information is confidential and not subject to public release,” the Democrats, led by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), wrote to Grassley. “If the committee majority is going to violate that confidentiality and characterize this background investigation publicly, you must at least be honest about it.”

The two committee Democrats who did not sign the letter were Sens. Christopher A. Coons (Del.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.). 

Grassley’s staff responded on Twitter that “nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading.” 

“The committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful,” the committee Republicans said. “More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats.”

Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis, Tom Hamburger and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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