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Redhead on the bench in Montserrat - DSC_5880 web

Justice Albert Redhead dies

Some sections of the legal fraternity here and across the Eastern Caribbean are said to in mourning at the news of the death of retired Justice Albert Redhead who died on March 4 after a brief period of illness in Antigua.

Justice on the bench in Montserrat

He has been referred to as a “powerhouse’ while Justice Keith Thom, the husband of Justice Gertel Thom who sat with Justice Redhead on the bench to officially mark in Montserrat, said of Justice Redhead a former colleague was a ‘legal giant’.

“He was my mentor and my friend. I recall the days when I appeared before him as a prosecutor. Every day was a learning experience,” he said, adding that he was happy he was able to express his love and respect directly to Justice Redhead when he was alive.

According to the Antigua Daily Observer, there have been similar sentiments expressed as tributes poured in throughout the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association.

Justice Redhead has served throughout the OECS region. He was called to the bar of England and Wales in 1972 and two years later he moved to Saint Kitts and Nevis where he began working as a Crown Counsel. He moved on to being Registrar of the High Court and also served as a magistrate of the courts. In 1980 he became the Director of Public Prosecutions for Saint Kitts and Nevis, before moving on to becoming a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ECSC in 1985.

In 1997 he became an Appeals Court Judge of the same court, serving often in Montserrat, retiring in 2003 but was re-appointed more than once thereafter to act as a judge in the High Court in several countries in the OECS.

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Attorney Warren Cassell

Brandt’s trial wavers

Brandt addressing court at Justice
Redhead’s retirement

Attorney-at-Law David S. Brandt, a former chief minister of Montserrat was arrested and charged on Monday, September 21, 2015, on sexually related charges allegedly involving minors dating back to 2010, has had several legal interventions through the appellate courts.

Now on new and or adjusted charges, the news is that new Justice Garret Evans has decided that the trial will take place in June or early July this year.

But, there arose seemingly new problems which suggest a trial may not take place on the matters.

As recorded earlier, “The man known as ‘the man of the people’ and still popularly referred to politically as, ‘The Heavy Roller’ is second to former Premier Reuben T Meade who served for 25 years non-stop from 1991 – 2014, and he for 23 years as the longest serving legislators in Montserrat alive…”

The new dispute is that the prosecution had allegedly told the court that Mr. Brandt would not receive a fair trial in Montserrat and ask that the matter be transferred to another jurisdiction, creating a problem for the trial taking place at all. Mr. Oris Sullivan, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Montserrat disputes the information and according to reports has told ZJB News that the decision made by Justice Evans for the trial to proceed, was based on the eight counts on which Mr Brandt is being charged including exploitation of girls under the age of 18 years.”  

Mr. Sullivan has said: “…that Mr Brandt is capable of having a fair trial in Montserrat. In fact Justice Evans has ruled that having regard of the evidence before him that Mr Brandt is capable of having a fair trial on Montserrat.”

DPP Oris Sullivan

Sullivan said he is responding to “all sorts of rumours or statements that the crown raise the issue that Mr. Brandt is incapable of getting a fair trial,” citing that as being the issue on the matter.

“Of course the issue was raised…before the court. Let me set the records straight and say the crown did not raise that issue before the court,” Sullivan says, explaining: “The issue the crown raised before the court was to bring the courts attention to the fact that Mr. Brandt is a very influential person and the selection of a jury might prove difficult in those circumstances. We are always of the view that Mr. Brandt will get a fair trial in Montserrat. He is not the only high profiled person to be tried on Montserrat.”

Attorney Warren Cassell

But, Attorney Warren Cassell, who contends he is not a member of Brandt’s defence team as reported, has expressed surprise at the DPP’s utterings. “I was pretty much surprised to hear the DPP on radio saying that they always thought that Mr. Brandt could get a fair trial in Montserrat, he says.

“In fact on the tenth day of January 2018,” Cassell continues, “the said DPP and his cohorts to include Annesta Weekes QC (who is the lead prosecutor in the matters) made an application to the court to transfer the trial to another jurisdiction, and in their submission they said, and I am quoting from it, I have a copy, and it is date stamped, ‘filed in the in the court – (it says) “we submit that it is not possible to ensure a fair trial of this defendant if a jury in Montserrat is empanelled…”

“So as a minister of justice,” Cassell concludes, “he is misleading the public to now come and say that it was always their contention that Mr. Brandt can get a fair trial.”

Earlier Cassell had expressed the view that since the prosecution had said Brandt could not get a fair trial in Montserrat, with the defence agreeing, and that according to him there being no legal provision for such matter to be heard except in front of his peers as the law requires, there can then be no trial.

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Legal witnesses  testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

Legal witnesses testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

by STAFF WRITER

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jan. 10, CMC – The case brought against the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, continued in court Thursday with three expert witnesses on Dominican law making presentations before  Justice Trevor Ward QC to help him determine whether Douglas, through his use of a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica, is under allegiance to a foreign power.

The expert witnesses provided by the Government were  Reginald Armour and Justin Simon, former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda. 

Dr. Denzil Douglas

Both men, who are are Dominican   attempted to show that   Douglas  demonstrated his allegiance to the Commonwealth of Dominica when he travelled on his Dominican diplomatic passport.

The lone expert provided by the defendant was Attorney-at-Law,   Gerald Burton, also a Dominican.

Douglas, in an affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, admitted to holding a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which he has used to travel. 

He also admitted to filling out and signing an application form for the diplomatic passport he holds, which is valid until July 29, 2020.

The opposition leader has argued that he has not sworn an allegiance, taken an oath of allegiance, nor become a citizen of Dominica.

However, the Attorney General’s Chamber is arguing that  Douglas is in violation of Section 28 of the Constitution after filling out an application form for a passport of another country, being issued with said passport and using that passport to travel, which are positive acts that constitute adherence, allegiance and obedience to a foreign power.

The St. Kitts-Nevis government, through the Attorney General, Vincent Byron, is seeking a declaration from the High Court that, since the election to the National Assembly on February 16, 2015, Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, Dominica.

Additionally, the government is also seeking a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly; an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member as well as costs, and other relief as the court may deem just and expedient.

Meanwhile,  Anthony Astaphan, lead counsel for Douglas in the Dominica Diplomatic Passport case said  the legal matter   “is a simple one.” “This Diplomatic Passport was given to Dr. Douglas as a matter of professionalism and personal courtesy (by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit). He applied for it as required under the regulations. He did not declare a citizenship of Dominica at no time, even when he travelled on his regular passport or on the Diplomatic Passport. His nationality was always declared as that of St. Kitts and Nevis or a Kittitian,”  Astaphan told reporters.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has described the matter of one of grave constitutional, political and parliamentary significance to the Commonwealth.

Both sides have until January 25 to submit written submissions based on evidence that was presented in court on Thursday, after which the lawyers will have until February 4 to respond, if necessary.

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dbs

Caribbean Court of Justice rules in favour of dismissed radio station manager

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 30, CMC– The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Friday ruled that the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (BDC) should pay its former general managerEC$52,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) in damages for wrongful termination of her services.

In addition, the CCJ, the island’s highest court, awarded Mariette Warrington costs at the CCJ, estimated atEC$37,800, and prescribed costs in the High Court and Court of Appeal after

The CCJ ruled that Warrington shouldbe paid the equivalent of six months’ salary, gratuity and holiday pay totalling EC$52,3000 as damages. The DBC had paid her one month’s salary and an honorarium when they terminated her, and the High Court and the Court of Appeal had upheld these payments.

In her application before the CCJ, the former general manager had requested payment of her salary for the remaining years of her contract.

However, the CCJ found she had not proved that loss and decided that “Ms. Warrington would have been entitled to the six months’ salary in lieu of notice and this amount is to be regarded in law as agreed liquidated damages”

At the root of this dispute was whether Warrington’s appointment was valid. She had served DBC under two consecutive employment contracts as the general manager which ended in 2008.

However, before the end of the last contract she wrote a letter requesting further employment with the Corporation as general manager “under similar terms and conditions” with an increased salary and protection against arbitrary termination.

DBC never responded to this request and at a board meeting, some months before the contract ended, a decision was taken unanimously to re-appoint her but this decision was never communicated to the former general manager.

The DBC board then decided to advertise the position of general manager and Warrington was the only applicant who applied for the position.

The CCJ heard that the Corporation did not respond to her application and after her contract ended she kept performing the functions as general manager and even wrote to the chairman of the DBC board inquiring about her employment status.

But after 15 months as performing the duties of general manager, in March 2010, she received a letter informing her that she was on a month to month contract and was terminated in the subsequent month.

In her challenge before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, they courts ruled that the purported contract of employment was invalid for non-compliance with the statutory provision that requires the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation’s Board to act on the advice of the Prime Minister in appointing its managers.

The Courts did not regard as significant the fact that, on 17th February 2009, the Board met with the Prime Minister and discussed “the matter” of Warrington’s appointment.

“It is most revealing that neither the Board nor the Minister (of Information) mentioned asking for the Prime Minister’s advice on the selection of Ms. Warrington as Manager. It appears the Board and Minister took it as a given that he approved of her continuing as Manager,” the CCJ noted.

It said that the board minutes bolstered the finding that the issue that engaged the board and the Prime Minister was the length of the contract to give Warrington rather than the Prime Minister’s approval of her continuing in the role. The CCJ found that Ms Warrington’s appointment was therefore valid.

The President of the Court, Justice Saunders, in a concurring judgment, noted that “it was quite inappropriate for the Board, unilaterally and belatedly, to seek to impose a one-month notice period. Apart from its inappropriateness, that period was unreasonably short”.

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David-Brandt

Appeal Court denies two major appeals

Dr Perkins and lawyer Brandt lose their appeals

Dr. Franklin Perkins was adjudicated guilty by a nine-member panel jury on March 1, 2017, following a trial in the allegation that he indecently assaulted a nineteen-year-old female in his private surgery at Cudjoe Head.

Dr Franklin Perkins

Justice Ian Morley in the high court on Monday morning handed down the sentence in March this year, where he was ordered to pay the victim $10,000 within three months in default of which, he would serve a period of six months in jail. In addition, he was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence.

The 67-year-old medical doctor appealed the sentence against his conviction seeking to have the conviction quashed or reduced, insisting that it was a routine medical examination. This week the Appeal Court denied his appeal commenting that he in fact received a light sentence and that the $10,000 compensation was reasonable.

Dr. Perkins had appealed on five grounds which the court rejected.

They were: That the Trial Judge interfered in the case to such an extent that he became another prosecutor in the matter.

That the judge failed to carry out a means test and as a result the $10, 000 compensation awarded by the court was too severe in all circumstances;

That the judge did not properly direct the jury on how to treat with the evidence of the victim’s demeanor;

That the Judge failed to properly direct the jury on recent complaint; and, that the trial judge erred when he failed to allow the accused (Dr. Perkins) to give an unsworn statement from the dock.

At the sentencing, the doctor having denied that he committed the act, insisting that it simply was a routine medical examination, trial judge Justice Morley said he considered the statements given by persons who spoke in support of Dr. Perkins during his sentencing, adding that he also received a letter from some members of the medical fraternity on Montserrat who expressed surprise and disappointment at the guilty verdict.

 Giving an extended account of the case, he stated that this assault on the victim’s reputation and that of her family indicates an undercurrent of racism, sexism and snobbery in the Montserrat society.

Related – see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/dr-perkins-gets-suspended-prison-sentence-and-victim-compensation-fine/

Brandt loses appeal but hints at taking the matter further to Privy Council

In another high-profile matter before the appeal court this week, Attorney David S. Brandt also lost a five-ground appeal against the decision of the trial judge, Justice Bell, at sufficiency hearing when Justice Bell ruled against him that on the strict construction of the statutes, the prosecution was right to lay the charges.


Attorney David S. Brandt

The lawyer was charged in 2015 with five counts of child sexual exploitation.

He had appealed to the court on the grounds that he was denied the protection of the law as provided for under the Montserrat Constitutional order 2010, the high court judge in his ruling calling the grounds ‘absurd’.

The court of appeal, in handing down the decision Thursday afternoon, was in full agreement with the trial Judge Justice Bell. In dismissing the appeal, the court ordered that the matter be remitted to the trial judge in the high for the continuation of the sufficiency hearing.

The court also asked that counsel provide submissions regarding the costs of the appeal.

However, it is believed that the Attorney will take the matter to the Privy Council convinced that his attorneys are right in their constitutional arguments.

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Guyana accepts CCJ ruling on transgender matter

Guyana accepts CCJ ruling on transgender matter

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 21, CMC – The Guyana government says it respects the ruling of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that recently ruled as “unconstitutional” a law here that makes it a criminal offence for a man or a woman to appear in public while dressed in clothing of the opposite sex.

The CCJ, Guyana’s highest court, also said that the law, Section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, should be struck from the laws of the country and that costs are to be awarded to the appellants in the appeal before it and the lower courts.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, in an interview with the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper, said Georgetown respects the decision.

He said that now that the CCJ has ruled, Guyana must now work on adjusting its culture to include all sections of society including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people.

Nagamootoo acknowledged that the issue is a human rights one and that education will need to form a major part of the process intended to change the way persons engage with the LGBT community.

“So I think social organisations, in particular, have a responsibility to start the education process to be more tolerant to accept that we have differences in our society that we are not all the same; that we are all entitled to the same rights,” he told the newspaper.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo said that the Ministry of Social Protection and the Ministry of Social Cohesion would also have a role to play in the process, emphasising that the ruling “is one step forward in an appreciation of the fact that society has differences.”

He said the David Granger government must also find mechanisms through which it can give “teeth” to the decision.

In 2009, several trans women were arrested and convicted under the 1893 Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act of the offence of being a “man” appearing in “female attire” in public for an “improper purpose”.

They spent three nights in police detention in Georgetown after their arrest for the minor crime. One year later, McEwan, Clarke, Fraser, Persaud and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the law and the treatment of the appellants during the legal process.

At the time of arrest, McEwan was dressed in a pink shirt and a pair of tights and Clarke was wearing slippers and a skirt. A few hours later, Fraser and Persaud were also arrested by the police and taken to the Brickdam Police Station.

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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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