ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, June 22, (CMC) – The chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), Dr. Francis Alexis, today, described as “positively historic” the passage of legislation, aimed at reforming the Grenada constitution.
Parliament, meeting here, on Tuesday, also passed legislation that allows the island to replace the London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), as its final court.
The measures are now to go before Grenadians in a national referendum. No date has yet been set for the referendum, but it is widely expected to be held before year end.
In a statement, Alexis, a constitutional expert and former attorney general, said the Parliament meeting “was a constitutional event filled with positive historic, sociological and psychological sensibilities for national development”.
He noted that in piloting the legislation to replace the Privy Council, Legal Affairs Minister, Elvin Nimrod, “portrayed Grenada as intent on completing its independence, asserting its dignity, and ensuring broad access to final appellate justice”.
He said Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, had told legislators that “justice delayed is justice denied” and that the CCJ has adopted a protocol to deliver judgments no later than six months after hearing a case.
Alexis, a former law lecturer, said that while several members of the House indicated that the advent of CCJ is a challenge to Caribbean peoples to further shoulder responsibility for shaping their own destiny, they nonetheless felt that “Caribbean peoples have the professional competence in the law to do so”.
Alexis said that another of the Bills passed, on Tuesday, would strengthen human rights, by various means.
“These include ordaining the due process of law; enhancing freedom from self-incrimination; protecting intellectual property rights; assuring public-funded education rights for children; facilitating those who are challenged physically or otherwise; guaranteeing gender equality; and replacing masculine references by gender inclusive language. There would also be provision for protection of the environment.”
Another Bill would change the name of the State from ‘Grenada’ to ‘Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and that other measures would institute term limits for the Prime Minister; ensure that there is always an Opposition Leader; enable Parliament to provide fixed dates for general elections; institute an Elections and Boundaries Commission; introduce the modern styling ‘Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’; and require that allegiance be sworn, no longer to the Queen, but to Grenada.
The Bill will now be debated in the Senate and, if passed, would next be put to a referendum for the required approval of the people.
“With Parliament now actively processing the Bills, public education on Constitution Reform picks up momentum; and this process the Committee is ready to lead,” said Alexis.