PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago: Government has announced its intentions to introduce legislation to replace the London-based Privy Council as that island’s final court of appeal.
According to reports, Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said that as the country prepared to celebrate its golden anniversary of independence, it should take another step to further its national sovereignty and make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) its final court of appeal.
At present, Barbados, Guyana and Belize are the only members of the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, which also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.
Reports indicate that the Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister has defended the country’s decision to adopt a deliberate approach to breaking ties with the Privy Council.
Persad-Bissessar stated that there was ample precedence for a phased withdrawal from the Privy Council, and noted that she has held discussions with various stakeholders involved in the process, including Chief Justice Ivor Archie; President of the Law Association, Dana Seetahal and the President of the Criminal Bar Association, Pamela Elder.
In 1999, the Trinidad & Tobago government announced that it would provide a site to house the CCJ and, in 2001, the agreement establishing the court was signed by Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. Dominica and St. Vincent & the Grenadines were expected to follow in 2003.