Grenada prepares for another CCJ referendum

Monday, April 23, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC) — The Ministry of Legal Affairs is preparing to conduct another referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) — two years after the electorate voted to reject the Trinidad-based court as its final appellate court.

On Monday, Attorney General Dr Lawrence Joseph confirmed that a draft amendment to the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill was recently sent to the Grenada Bar Association for discussions and input.

“We have circulated that amended Bill to the Grenada Bar Association for discussion as part of the first step, after we receive comments from the Bar we will then have wider discussion,” said Joseph, adding that the Bill also must be laid in parliament for no less than 90 days before the referendum could be held.

The main purpose of the Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) (amendment) Bill 2018, is to amend the Constitution of Grenada in order to enable accession to the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal instead of the Privy Council.

The 2018 Bill includes almost everything in the 2016 Bill with two exceptions.

“We have removed the section about swearing allegiance to the country instead of to the Queen as well as the code of conduct for public officials. However, if during the discussion people recommend that anyone be included it will be replaced.”

Joseph said that the Government will once again establish a committee to spearhead the process.

The previous committee was chaired by well known constitutional lawyer Dr Francis Alexis with 18 others who represented several stakeholders including the religious community, the media, the youth, the labour movement and civil society.

The Bill was among seven which failed to receive the adequate number of votes in the November 27, 2016 referendum.

Grenadians voted against the CCJ by a margin of 9,492 in favour and 12,434 against.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell then said that he regretted the defeat for the CCJ, noting that he should have done more to encourage voters to accept the CCJ as the island deepens its political independence from Britain.

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