No appetite for CCJ in OECS

MyVueNews Staff-writer

Basseterre, St. Kitts, Wednesday, 7th November, 2018, (MyVueNews.com) – Once again, the Caribbean Court of Justice, CCJ, as the final appellate court for the region, has been rejected by the people of the Eastern Caribbean.

There appears to be very little interest, at the moment, amongst the citizens of the Leeward and Windward Islands, to move from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, to the CCJ, which is headquartered in Port of Spain Trinidad.

Except for Dominica, no other OECS territory has welcomed the CCJ over the Privy Council, even though they all have signed on to the same court in its original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the rules of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Two of the OECS states, Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda, on Tuesday, 6th November, 2018, voted in separate referenda, as the respective governments sought approval to amend their constitutions, in order to pave the way for the march to the CCJ.

Both governments were rejected as they failed to gain the required threshold of votes, which in Antigua was two thirds, or 67 percent.

Antigua’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne said he was disappointed, even though previously he had expressed confidence that his people would rally around the effort.

It was a similar situation in Grenada, where the people there, for two consecutive years, said no.

Like his counterpart in Antigua, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, also said he too was disappointed.

Some, 12,133 or 55.2 % people voted against, with only 44.8% or 9,846 supporting the initiative in Grenada.

In Antigua, 9,234 voters or 52.04 % said no and 8,509 or 47.96 gave their approval.

In both instances, the votes were split along partisan lines, with no united front being accomplished between the opposition and ruling parties in both countries.

In Antigua, the registered voters hardly bothered to turnout. Even though there are 52, 999 registered voters, only 17,743 showed up to cast their ballots.

Over in St. Kitts & Nevis, while they did not organize a referendum, Prime Minister Timothy Harris reminded that his administration, at this time, has not placed much priority on addressing the issue of joining the CCJ.

While many great advantages have been advanced to support the cause to join CCJ, there has been one major line of objection from Caribbean people that unfortunately governments and other proponents, appear to be ignoring.

Caribbean people have been saying that they have very little trust in the CCJ as the final court of appeal. A lot of this pessimism is centered on fear of political influence and interference.

However, instead of trying to strategically address this concern, opponents have been simply dismissed, instead of being told of stronger and extra measures that would be taken to guarantee the integrity of the court.

Perhaps that is why the Caribbean populace, including those in Trinidad & Tobago, where the court has been located, since 2003, when it was established, continue to say they are not ready to join.

At present, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana, have accepted the CCJ as the court of last resort, to deal with civil and criminal matters, instead of the Privy Council.