ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Friday May 4, 2018 – The Grenada government will be taking a second shot at a referendum. hoping to get the support needed to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the island’s final court of appeal.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said a second referendum will be held before the end of the year. It will come two years after 12,635 Grenadians voted against the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill in a November 2016 referendum, compared to the 9,639 who supported it.
Mitchell’s New National Party, which was re-elected to office in general elections on March 30 this year, had supported the Bill, but the opposition National Democratic Congress opposed the reforms.
“The CCJ is an important issue to take a second look at,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully we’ll have everyone playing a very united role in going forward, because if we do not work together then clearly it’s not necessarily going to pass and I think it would be a tragedy of justice for this country and for the Caribbean. I think it is about time that we have stop having faith in everybody else but ourselves.”
“Our jurists have served regional and international institutions with distinction, and it would be, to me, almost an insult to say to ourselves that we cannot be responsible for justice in our country.”
The CCJ Bill was one of seven which the electorate voted on separately in 2016. A two-thirds majority was needed for the amendments to pass, but all seven Bills were rejected by voters.
The other proposed amendments were: the creation of an Elections and Boundaries Commission to replace the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the Supervisor of Elections; allowing the leader of the party with the most votes to be appointed Leader of the Opposition and to sit in the House of Representatives if the second-placed party fails to win a seat in a general election; introducing fixed dates for elections, with the caveat that a vote of no confidence may trigger an early election; changing the official name of the State of Grenada to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique; expanding the list of fundamental rights and freedoms; and limiting the Prime Minister to three consecutive terms in office.
Prime Minister Mitchell said that leading up to this second referendum, he would play a much more active role than he did last time.
The Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Amendment Bill 2018 includes almost everything in the 2016 Bill. What has been excluded this time around is the section that addresses a code of conduct for public officials and swearing allegiance to the country rather than the Queen.
Attorney General Dr Lawrence Joseph said the draft legislation has been sent to the Grenada Bar Association for discussion and input.
“After we receive comments from the Bar we will then have a wider discussion,” he said Joseph, adding that the Bill must be laid in the parliament for no less than 90 days before the referendum can be held.