By Everton Barnes
As the public education campaign on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) moves into top gear, the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) convened a meeting Thursday with a group of Church leaders.
In attendance were representatives from the Pentecostal Church, the Wesleyan Holiness Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Methodist Church, Deeper Life Ministries and the Church of God of Prophecy and Miracle Ministries.
The meeting was addressed by Attorney General, Hon. Steadroy Benjamin, who noted that “the church plays an important role in the Antigua and Barbuda as it is largely a Christian society”.
He said that when Antigua and Barbuda attained political independence in 1981, the Government took control of two main arms – the Executive, represented by the Cabinet and the Legislature, represented by Parliament. But he noted that the Judiciary, the third arm of government, still resides in London as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council remains the country’s final Court of Appeal. He said this is inconsistent with being an independent nation.
Benjamin noted that Grenada is holding a referendum on October 27 on whether or not to remain with the JCPC or migrate to the CCJ. Antigua and Barbuda will also hold its referendum later this year.
He urged the church leaders to ‘use their influence’ in assisting the NCC in its public education campaign by informing their various congregations about the Court and the processes involved.
NCC Chairman, Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry, also addressed the pastors and he too called on the church representatives for their assistance in this ‘very important and historic exercise’. As shepherds and those interested in the social fabric of society to join the NCC in sensitizing their respective congregations on the different elements of the CCJ and the JCPC.
The church leaders all spoke individually giving full endorsement of the CCJ, and pledged their support for the NCC’s public education programme.
The church representatives also offered to invite representatives of the NCC to address their congregations during this renewed phase of the public education and sensitization campaign.