Ms. Lisa Taylor
GRENADA BAR ASSOCIATION
Dear Ms. Taylor,
January 10th, 2019
Re Solidarity, Grenada Bar Association
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Martin Neimoller (1892-1984)
Greetings to you, Madam President, Executive and members of the Grenada Bar Association!
I write in my personal, individual capacity to offer my solidarity to the Grenada Bar Association for the action taken in demonstrating that it has “come to the end of the rope” re the APPALLING situation of the High Court’s inability to sit.
I salute, Madam President, the leadership shown by yourself on this matter, the deliberative manner in which the Executive has approached the situation and the lengths to which the Grenada Bar Association has gone in demonstrating patience and proposing solutions to the Executive.
Thank you for also bringing attention to the state of York House, the former seat of Parliament and the High Court, that has been DELIBERATELY allowed to deteriorate since the passage of Hurricane Ivan on September 7th, 2004 while we all FOOLISHLY awaited the promise of the Halls of Justice.
Given that the Judiciary is the third arm of our governance, it is UNTHINKABLE that this situation should exist. However, it does. And it is ironic that the “powers that be” are “profiling” Grenada’s commitment to good governance with the Capacity Building for Parliamentarians that is being facilitated by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Grenada this week.
Mme. President, Executive and Members of the GBA, we, as a people, must all ask ourselves, how is it that the Judiciary has been reduced to being treated with this level of indifference and disrespect as exhibited by the Executive. Have we, collectively, as citizens, contributed to this situation?
I submit, Mme. President, that we all must bear some responsibility. As citizens, we have not been “minding our business” It is our FAILURE to set standards for those who govern, our willingness to bend over backwards, compromise and accept the intolerable and now the High Court has been reduced to this new normal. It is unable to sit because it does not have a home!!!
Meanwhile, York House, the former seat of Parliament and the High Court, has been deliberately allowed to deteriorate when all it needed was to be re-roofed and repaired. Whatever happened to our COMMON SENSE and those pearls of wisdom of our elders, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!” Use what you already have until you can get what you want.
York House is/was also one of our valued national HERITAGE assets. So there could be no loss in investing in the repair of York House until the Halls of Justice could be realised.
A review of the Budget Estimates over the years would inform that a home for the Supreme Court is NOT a priority. The Executive has spent XCD 23 million over the last two years, 2017 and 2018, for the Parliament building – a single use structure, of which $4.5 million have been funded by TAXPAYERS. Another XCD 6 million have been budgeted for in the 2019 Estimates but not a DIME had been allocated for the Supreme Court. Where is the VALUE FOR MONEY in that building compared to York House? I humbly submit, Madam President, that these are debates in which the members of the Grenada Bar Ass., as CITIZENS of this country, has to begin to engage.
And I note, that York House ( is to be a Knowledge Centre and Museum) and the Legal Centre for the Judiciary are to be restored/constructed by a Build, Own, Lease and Transfer (BOLT) arrangement which means that some PRIVATE entity is going to build it and OWN it under a BOLT arrangement!! Which therefore means that we can kiss goodbye to the ownership of those buildings!!
Let us not forget that it was the National Stadium and the Ministerial Complex BOLT arrangements that begun Grenada’s slide into the DEBT MORASS in which we are all struggling. Perhaps a DEAL will be arranged – what will be the exchange? In exchange for the ownership of these buildings, the BOLT developers will assume ownership and control over certain other national assets?
Within the Grenada Bar Association is a concentration of the crème de la crème of our Grenadian intelligentsia. If the independence of the Judiciary is going to be respected and protected, the Grenada Bar Association has an important role to play. I want to encourage, Madam President, broader civic engagement by the Bar and its members.
I encourage the Bar, collectively, and its individual members to lend their voices, collectively and individually, to informed debate and understanding of many issues well within its purview – like for example the many bills that are passed in Parliament with little or no debate but which have far reaching consequences for the lives of our people. E.g. the amendment to the Banking Act that was recently passed or the proposal to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice, which the Grenada Bar Association just let slide by!!??
The current situation in the country is not just a situation for the Grenada Bar Association, it is one that AFFECTS the CITIZENS of this country. The members of the Grenada Bar Association are interlocutors, on behalf of the CITIZENS, they represent. I therefore, once again reiterate my solidarity and support for the efforts of the Grenada Bar Association to ensuring in the soonest possible time an adequate solution, sustainable over the medium and long term, to restoring the sitting of the High Court and to ensuring the proper functioning, protection and independence of the Judiciary and judicial system.
Sandra C.A. Ferguson