Grenada PM wants to re-open dialogue on CCJ

By CMC

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Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell

(CMC) – Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell has called for a “ re-opening of the dialogue on the Caribbean Court of Justice” less than two years after the electorate voted to reject the Trinidad-based court as the island’s final court.

Speaking at the swearing in ceremony for his new Cabinet following his New National Party’s sweep of all 15 seats in the general elections on March 13, Mitchell said that as it “relates to our independence and to our national identity, we must open up a dialogue again, about our joining the Caribbean Court of Justice.

“While most of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, which also functions as an international tribunal that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction,” Mitchell said.

He quoted the Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as saying that he can’t understand why Caribbean countries “still believe that the former colonial master is better than people here in the Caribbean” on matters relating to how “our disputes are handled and how our grievances are addressed”.

In November 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation that would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

But by a vast majority, the voters turned their backs on plans to replace the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ as the island’s final court, as well as rejecting term limits for the prime minister and the appointment of a leader of the opposition in Parliament.

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

Speaking at the ceremony here on Sunday, Mitchell said that Grenada, “this land that gave birth to revolutionaries Julien Fedon and Henri Christophe; this land that gave birth to leaders who were fathers of Grenada’s independence and defenders of its place in the world, such as Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop; this land must and shall do better than we have done on this issue.

“Today, I call for a re-opening of the dialogue on the CCJ and the development of a united front in going forward – for this issue should not divide us along lines of neither party nor class.

“In fact, unity of purpose must be our “watchwords” as we go forward. There are too many things that hold us together, for us to fall apart. Let’s remain determined to achieve,” he added.

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