St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): There has been a response to Trinidad and Tobago’s head of state’s appeal for the majority of CARICOM states to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
President Anthony Carmona wants the others to join Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Dominica in fully embracing that jurisdiction.
He has been explaining that replacing the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ should be more of a priority for the others including the OECS countries of St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
According to President Carmona, these states are dragging their feet on a matter he considers at the heart of Caribbean pride.
However it was noted on WINN FM’s Bigger Picture, that his own Trinidad and Tobago is also at fault on that issue.
The matter was put to Thaddeus Antoine, the President of the OECS Bar Association.
“I found the statement quite strange because I was wondering if I had missed if the Trinidad government had in fact indicated that they were moving to make the CCJ the final court. As the head of state you can make the call I don’t know if you are in the position to do so, but he certainly has done that. I believe yes, the rest of the CARICOM should sign up, I am not one who subscribes to the argument of de-linking because we have to get rid of our colonial past and things of that sort, I think it is more important act of justice because as lawyers we know our final court being at the Privy Court in London and how expensive it is to have appeals there and if you look at our track record in terms of appeals for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and further up it goes nowhere simply because it’s too expensive to have an appeal. So if the Caribbean Court of Justice is indeed our final court of appeal and the court is one that it could sit in different jurisdictions, it doesn’t sit in just Trinidad it goes to St Lucia, it goes to Barbados, then it comes closer to home. So there is greater access to the public and as lawyers we believe in justice and justice is not about saying you have a court or final court of appeal but rather your populace or public being able to access the court.”
For states like St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia, a two-thirds parliamentary majority can see accession to the CCJ become a reality, as was the case in Dominica in early 2015.
Last year a Grenada referendum which featured several matters including the CCJ, failed to get a “yes” vote.
Antigua has also been working towards holding a CCJ referendum, but it has so far been delayed because reportedly, the government in St John’s is not sure the measure will provide the green light for signing up to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction.