Friday, 25 January 2008
Prime Minister Stephenson King Thursday said his government is anxious to have the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) established as St Lucia’s final court as he attempted to clear the air on a previous statement made about the regional court.
In a press statement King explained that a recent comment made to the media in Dominica that the Privy Council had served St. Lucia well, has been interpreted by some to mean that St. Lucia is in no hurry to join the CCJ.
Speaking to reporters during an Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) summit last week, King said: "My government has always had the view, even when we were in opposition, that we should proceed cautiously with sub scri ption and participation in the CCJ ... It simply means that as a new government there is need for cautious acceptance of the intention of the CCJ".
However, in his statement released Thursday, King said St Lucia is anxious to have the CCJ constituted as the country’s final Court of Appeal but the constitution of St. Lucia provides for certain procedures to be followed, including parliamentary approval before this can be done.
"I wish to inform the public both here and abroad that my government has already commenced discussion on possible ways in which those constitutional requirements can be addressed so that the CCJ can become St. Lucia’s final Court of Appeal in civil and criminal matters in due course," he noted.
King said that St. Lucia is already part of the CCJ and his government has taken no decision to the contrary. "The fact is that St. Lucia has already signed on to the agreement establishing the CCJ which is based in Trinidad and Tobago.
"The CCJ functions as an international court with jurisdiction in relation to the interpretation of the treaty establishing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and to decide on disputes that may arise between member states of CARICOM.
"This is the original jurisdiction of the CCJ, however, the institution does not yet have the second jurisdiction that is to serve as a final Court of Appeal in respect of civil and criminal matters. This implies that criminal appeals must still be referred to the Privy Council," he noted.
King’s position, as outlined last week, had drawn condemnation from Opposition Leader Dr Kenny Anthony, whose administration was in office when the CCJ was established.