(CMC) – Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is urging Grenadians not to be swayed by misleading information that Tuesday’s referendum is aimed at making widespread amendments to the Grenada constitution.
Grenadians go to the polls to decide on whether to not to replace the London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to be the region’s final court.
Two years ago, voters rejected the move as part of a suite of bills that the Mitchell administration had put before the electorate including one for a fixed date for a general election here.
“It is rather unfortunate that as we approach this critical milestone in our history as a nation, the gravity of the moment is being distorted with misinformation, particularly on social media. I urge you not to be swayed by rumours that are intended to sow confusion and doubt,” Mitchell said in a radio and television broadcast on Monday.
“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,” he said in the message aired 24 hours before voting.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, is now urging the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken because members were not satisfied with the process.
“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.
Condemning the method of educational engagement by the Advisory committee, Andall said that the NDC believes that the Committee was playing a dual role of advising and leading the “yes” campaign.
But in his broadcast, Prime Minister Mitchell told Grenadians that this “significant national endeavour” goes beyond the realm of the present generation.
“This vote transcends any political, social or 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.
“It is undisputedly a worthwhile investment in the type of society we will set up for our children and grandchildren,” he said while explaining that the matter of justice is too important for any of person to try to score political points from the process.
Calling on those qualified to cast ballots to come together on the issue, he said “by joining the CCJ, we will also get the opportunity to fix some of the problems that have been identified in the lower courts.
“After generations of being associated with the Privy Council, none of these has been addressed. What we have now is a golden opportunity to bring about real change. There is a saying that justice delayed is justice denied. We are now saying also that justice not accessible is also justice denied,” he said as he advises that voting yes will be a powerful united message.”
According to the Parliamentary Elections Office a total of 79,401 people are registered to vote in the referendum.
The authorities said that voters will be asked to either support or vote against the question “Do you approve the Bill for an Act proposing to alter the constitution of Grenada cited as Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and renaming of Supreme Court) (Amendment) Bill 2018?”
The country needs a two-thirds majority of the total number of ballots cast for it to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to be full members of the CCJ that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.