LEGISLATION GOVERNING THE APPOINTMENT
OF THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Grenada comprising three Commissioners and a Secretary; was appointed on the 4th September 2001, by His Excellency the Governor-General of Grenada, Sir Daniel Charles Williams GCMG in exercise of powers vested in him by Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 58 of the Revised Laws of Grenada 1990, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet of Grenada.
Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act provides that -
It shall be lawful for the Governor-General, whenever he shall deem it advisable, to issue a Commission, appointing one or more Commissioners, and authorizing the Commissioners, or any quorum of them therein mentioned, to inquire into the conduct or management of any department of f1he public service, or of any public or local institution or the conduct of any public officer or of any parish or district of Grenada; or into any matter of which an inquiry would, in the opinion of the Governor-General, for the public welfare. Each such Commission shall specify the subject of inquiry and may, in the discretion of the Governor-General, if there is more than one Commissioner, direct which Commissioner shall be chairman, and direct where and when the inquiry shall be made and the Report thereof rendered, and prescribe how the Commission shall be executed, and may direct whether the inquiry shall or shall not be held in public, In the absence of a direction to the contrary, the inquiry shall be held in public, but the Commissioners shall nevertheless be entitled to exclude any particular person or persons for the preservation of order, for the due conduct of the inquiry, or for any other reason.
Some other important provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act -
- require the Commissioners to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matter specified in the Commission; to report the result of the inquiry to the Governor-General:(Section 7);
- allow the Commission to make rules for its own guidance and for the conduct and management of the proceedings before it. (Section 9);
- protect the Commissioners from arrest or suit for anything done while acting as such (Section 10);
- empower the Commissioners to summon and examine witnesses and call for the production of documents;
- make it obligatory upon pain of penalty, for all persons summoned
to attend and give evidence or product documents before the Commission to obey the summons and to have their expenses paid for so attending (Section 11);
- provide, upon pain of penalty, against persons willfully giving false evidence before the Commission and producing false documents with intent to deceive the Commission (Section 12);
- allow persons appearing before the Commission to be represented by legal counsel who may, so far as the Commission thinks proper, appear and ask questions concerning matters relevant to the inquiry (Section 18 and 19).
It should be noted even though not expressly so provided by the Act, that statements, letters, memoranda and similar written information submitted to the Commission without the appearance of the persons who submit them would be expected to be governed by the foregoing sanctions and privileges mutatis mutandis.
The constituent nature of the inquiry as envisaged by the Act, being inquisitorial and not adversarial, there could be no right of cross-examination and it is for the Commission to grant leave, if it so considers, for cross-examination to be conducted by anyone else.
It should also be noted that Section 11 of the Act provides that no person giving evidence before the Commission shall be compellable to criminate himself and that such person enjoys entitlement to the same privileges as those of a witness giving evidence before the High Court.
The Commission was itself aware and was careful to remind persons appearing before it at oral hearings and at public outreach meetings, that the Commission was not a Court of law and was not constituted or empowered to find anyone guilty of any criminal offence or to condemn anyone for any act disclosed as done while giving evidence at oral hearings or speaking at public meetings held in the communities in which such meetings were convened.
Accordingly, the nature, scope and purpose of the Commission's inquiry within the ambit of its terms of reference and as authorized by the Commissions of Inquiry Act were not binding or judgmental in the legal sense, but instead enabled the Commission to lawfully act as a fact finding and advisory body. Albeit with specified coercive powers relating to the appearance of witnesses and the production of documents.