Grenada Opposition calls for postponement of CCJ referendum

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC) — The main Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday called for a postponement of the November 6 referendum on whether or not Grenada should replace the London-based Privy Council as the island's final court.

Grenadian will vote two years after they voted against replacing the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by a 12,434 – 9,492 margin in a similar referendum that had six other Bills.

NDC acting political leader, Joseph Andall, told a news conference that there was need for electoral reform and as well as to deal with discrepancies in the current CCJ Bill.

He said that his party, which failed to win a single seat in the last two general elections, would not continue to support the referendum if the Government does not suspend the current campaign.

“In addition to electoral reform, the NDC agrees with the Trade Union Council (TUC) position that the CCJ Bill is deficient in that it does not allow for the CCJ to be the final court of appeal in cases relating to the outcome of general elections,” said Andall.

“There is no good and justifiable reason that the Bill does not allow for this, the NDC agrees with the TUC that the Bill should be amended to include this provision,” he said.

The Grenada Constitution does not now provide for the Privy Council to be the final court on election petitions and the TUC, through it representative in the Parliament, has called for that provision to be removed from the constitution so that elections petition can be heard by the CCJ.

At a recent public meeting, where this matter was raised, attorney Ruggles Ferguson, who is also a member of the CCJ Advisory Committee, explained that the November 6 referendum is not removing any right to go to a final court for any matter.

But Andall told reporters “several legal minds have pointed out specific errors and flaws in the Bill that should be rectified before the people of Grenada are ask to vote on it.

“The NDC believes that Government should take time to address and correct these flaws where they exist,” said Andall, adding 'a Bill to amend our constitution is not like any origin Bill, it cannot be amended simply by passing another law, to amend it another referendum will be required and that will mean more taxpayers money being spent which can be entirely avoided.

“The NDC, therefore, calls on Government to postpone the referendum campaign so that all of the above matters can be address and the people of Grenada can move forward united, as we make the CCJ our final appellate court under a strengthened electoral system,” said Andall.

He told reporters that the party was taken by surprise with the recent amendment to the Representation of the People's Bill which, among other things, makes it a violation of law to use electronic devices at polling booths.

“We will not support the referendum Bill as it stands now and will encourage every patriotic Grenadian to take similar stands,” said Andall.

The CCJ, established in 2001, has both an original and appellate jurisdiction. But while most of the Caribbean community (Caricom) countries are signatories to the original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are members of its appellate jurisdiction.

In addition, the CCj serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, Caricom.

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