Published on Friday, 24 November 2006 00:00
The Government has issued a glossy booklet supposed to explain to the people the new constitution that it would like us to accept for our country. It has not made a single quotation from the constitutional draft! A quotation means an extract; a sentence or phrase copied word for word from what is in the actual document itself.
I will now give you a quotation that will explain why independent experts believe the independence of the judges in the 1969 Constitution will be lost. The Governor together with the Chief Minister, will have a majority vote in the appointment of Judges. If this were not enough, the Governor with the approval of any U.K. Minister will have a veto on any appointed judge.
Judge for yourselves. The following are the exact words in the draft constitution.
62.-(1) The Chief Justice, any Puisne Judge, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Justices of Appeal shall be appointed in accordance with section 57 on behalf of Her Majesty.â€
â€œ57.-(1) There shall be a Judicial Service Commission for Gibraltar, which shall consist of
(a) the President of the Court of Appeal, who shall be chairman;
(b) the Chief Justice;
(c) the Stipendiary Magistrate;
(d) two members appointed by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Chief Minister; and
(e) two members appointed by the Governor, acting in his discretion.
(2) The Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, shall -
(a) make and confirm appointments to the offices of Chief Justice, Puisne Judge, President of the Court of Appeal and Justice of Appeal;
(b) make, confirm and terminate appointments to the offices of Stipendiary Magistrate, Justice of the Peace, Registrar of the Supreme Court, and any other office appointment to which is by virtue of any other law to be made in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; and (c) exercise disciplinary control over any person appointed to an office referred to in paragraph (b).
(3) The Governor, with the prior approval of a Secretary of State, may disregard the advice of the Judicial Service Commission in any case where he judges that compliance with that advice would prejudice Her Majesty's serviceâ€¦.â€
The Governor and the Chief Minister together not only have four votes against the three independents in the Commission, but the Governor can terminate the appointment of the Stipendiary Magistrate, who is a member of the Commission.
Also, by section (3) above, he can ignore everyone if it does not suit the F&CO.