ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Tuesday November 6, 2018 – By early tomorrow morning, the region will know whether Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana in having the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their final court of appeal.
The two countries are each holding a referendum today on ditching London’s Privy Council and replacing it with the Trinidad-based CCJ, with the Prime Ministers urging citizens to vote ‘yes’.
A two-thirds majority is required for the referendum to succeed in both countries.
In Grenada, where citizens are voting on the issue for the second time, after a similar vote two years ago failed to get the required support, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said the vote transcended political, social and religious alliances.
“For it is about making justice accessible to every Grenadian, no matter their economic or social status or political affiliation. It is about our enduring attempts to develop, not merely another society, but one that is fair and just and one which affords all, an equal opportunity for justice at the highest level,” he said.
“This endeavour goes beyond the realm of this present generation. It is undisputedly a worthwhile investment in the type of society we will set up for our children and grandchildren.”
However, he expressed disappointment that the process was being distorted with misinformation, particularly on social media, from persons who are against the switch to the CCJ.
“I urge you not to be swayed by rumours that are intended to sow confusion and doubt. The matter of justice is too important for our society, for any of us to try to score political points from the process,” the Grenadian leader said.
“The irrefutable fact is that the only real issue on the ballot for Tuesday is whether to keep the Privy Council, which the vast majority of people don’t have the money to access; or to vote for the Caribbean Court of Justice, which will make final justice less costly and more accessible to ordinary people. There is a saying that justice delayed is justice denied. We are now saying also that justice not accessible is also justice denied,” he added, as he urged Grenadians to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum.
Similar calls also came from his Antiguan counterpart, Gaston Browne, who said he was satisfied he had done all he could to convince the population that replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ was the right move.
“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,” he said.
“I urge them to go out and vote ‘yes’. 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.”
While the opposition United Progressive Party in the twin-island nation told its supporters to vote their conscience, Grenada’s main opposition National Democratic Congress called for a ‘no’ vote on the measure.