ROSEAU, Dominica: Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson has chastised his regional counterparts for not replacing London’s Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their final court of appeal.
He described it as a “sad indictment” on the region that only two of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 15 member states have done so.
All CARICOM member states have accepted the CCJ in its original jurisdiction, but only Barbados and Guyana, have also acceded to the appellate jurisdiction. Thompson said that was not enough to give citizens of the region the confidence that the CCJ was a viable entity.
“I believe that it weakens the move towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and it weakens the entire CARICOM effort since there is reluctance to be a part of the CCJ. It takes it even further when the headquarters of the CCJ, which is in Trinidad and Tobago, is not a country that has acceded to the CCJ,” he said as the 21st Intercessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads concluded in Roseau last weekend.
“Everywhere else in the world has cut loose from the Privy Council. I have appeared both before the Privy Council as a practicing attorney and also was one of the first attorneys appearing before the CCJ. I’ve seen both in operation and I prefer the CCJ; that is my personal preference as an attorney. I thought there was a better understanding and appreciation of the issues,” Thompson said.
Thompson advised nations that have not yet acceded to the CCJ to “get with it”.
“If we have faith in ourselves we’ll get cracking on ensuring all of our countries are subject to the CCJ. Let us not act as if somebody else can interpret our constitutions and everyday life situations better than we can. It is a very sad indictment, a very sad one, on the region.
“I think it is a travesty that you have situations of people who, when in government, have agreed to move towards the CCJ, and then when they get into opposition, they are opposed to it,” said Thompson.