31st March 2016
Discussions have been held Wednesday between the Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association, attorney, Lenworth Johnson, and the Chairman of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, regarding the start of a series of television programmes to be hosted by the Association to discuss matters of the law, including the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The Bar Association, on its own initiative, inaugurated discussions with the management of ABS Television to host the programme entitled: Bar Talk - CCJ or Privy Council? The programme will be 90-minutes in duration and will include an interactive component where members of the public can ask questions directly of the panel.
"The aim of this exercise is to provide information on the judicial system and in particular address the various issues surrounding the CCJ and the Privy Council at a time when the two institutions are the subject of much discussion in recent weeks," Johnson told Dr. Henry. He said the initial plan is for the programme to run for six weeks during which the Association will explore a range of issues related to the role of the Association, the judiciary and, the role of the three branches of Government.
As it relates to the CCJ and the Privy Council, Johnson explained that the Bar will endeavour to present both sides of the argument in an unbiased manner. "It is very important that we present the arguments for and against the CCJ as well as the arguments for and against the Privy Council," he added.
The Bar Vice President noted that the current public discussion on CCJ and the Privy Council was too important for the Association to stand on the sidelines. "The Bar accepts that it could do more to educate the public on legal matters, including the CCJ and the Privy Council, and as such it believes that this is an appropriate time to do so on this very important issue. The Bar is a stakeholder and ought to play its rightful role in assisting with the public education campaign," he stated.
The Chairman of the NCC thanked the Bar for its initiative which he described as 'timely and very important'. He said that as the NCC undertakes the national education campaign on the CCJ and the Privy Council, it is crucial for civil society groups, such as the Bar Association, do whatever they can to provide credible information to the public in order to demystify ambiguities and concerns.
"The Bar Association is pivotal to the present exercise and, as a frontline stakeholder, they have much to contribute to the public discourse and certainly, can clarify and separate the facts from fiction. There are some elements in the society that are arguing from the standpoint of emotions and politics without having a real understanding of the two institutions. At present, we are preparing to provide empirical data to solidify our different arguments," Dr. Henry asserted.
Bar Talk - CCJ or Privy Council starts on ABS Television on April 10, starting at 8:00 p.m. Johnson will host the programme which will also feature two to three other lawyers on a weekly basis.
National Coordinating Committee