ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Consultative Committee spearheading preparations for a nation-wide public education and sensitization programme ahead of the referendum on whether Antigua and Barbuda should join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says the programme will be launched on March 10.
Head of the Committee, Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry, says “work is in full gear” to ensure that the public education programme meets with the objective of informing citizens on the move by the government to move away from the London-based Privy Council, which serves as the island’s highest court.
Henry said that invitations had been sent to Caribbean Community (CARICOM chairman and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, as well as the prime ministers of St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada; the President of Guyana and Premier of Montserrat to attend and participate in the formal launch ceremony at which Prime Minister Gaston Browne will deliver the feature address.
He said the Committee has also invited prominent Barbadian jurists Sir David Simmons, Sir Henry Forde and Richard Chetanham to participate in the public education campaign.
“Plans also include visits to Barbuda for consultations with key groups including the Barbuda Council, the Barbuda representative, Arthur Nibbs, the leadership of the Barbuda People’s Movement, as well as church leaders. There will also be a Youth Forum specifically for the youth of Barbuda as well.”
Last Thursday, Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams, delivering the tradition Throne Speech at the start of a new parliament term, said that the government is committed to making the CCJ its highest Court.
He said the issue should be a bipartisan affair, but warned that any attempt to politicize the process could derail plans to move ahead with the campaign.
Henry who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, said the Committee has “been busily putting together a draft public education campaign strategy that will seek to educate and inform the general public surrounding the CCJ and the Privy Council.
“I wholeheartedly welcome this latest indication of the pending referendum. The government has stated its position and I can advise that we are in the advance stages of our planning for what will be an extensive all-embracing comprehensive public education exercise.
“We will be education, informing, listening and sharing with all in the society; the electorates will be specially targeted; the private and public sectors, civil society, the Opposition, trade unions, and the Bar Association will be among the focus groups down for engagements which hopefully should run in earnest for approximately four months”, he said.
Henry said the inaugural meeting of the Consultative Committee will take place shortly to discuss the draft campaign strategy as well as the other plans ahead of the referendum.
“Already discussions have been held with the Chairman and other members of the Electoral Commission, several groups and potential partners who will be playing a key role in the public education process and management of the referendum.
‘Our draft plan includes focus group discussions; town hall meetings; the establishment of a website in association with technicians within the Ministry of Telecommunications; engage all forms of media in a massive campaign as well as the publication of a magazine and flyers for distribution,” Henry said.
He said the official launch, which is expected to be an all-day affair, will also include a public sector Forum.
The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories of the Original Jurisdiction of the Court, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to its Appellate Jurisdiction.
The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member grouping.
Published in the Jamaica Observer, Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/pfversion/Public-education-programme-on-CCJ-to-start-in-March#ixzz3xp9fDEHU