January 26, 2009

Accept the Caribbean Court of Justice

A-G: Accept CCJ
Source: Nation News
Published on: 1/25/09.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Freundel Stuart wants Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations to hurry up and accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the court of "last resort" on all matters.

Stuart said only Barbados and Guyana had accepted the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal instead of the Judicial Committee of Britain's Privy Council.

On the other hand, 12 CARICOM countries subscribe to the CCJ as the only body with responsibility to interpret and apply the provisions of the Treaty of Chaguaramas that set up CARICOM – and so settle trade and other disputes in the community.

Stuart, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, indicated that he wanted all CARICOM member countries to send a clear signal that they believe "justice can be delivered in the Caribbean at the same level and at the same quality" as through the Privy Council.

Stuart was at the time defending the Government against charges that it was "anti-integration" and dragging its feet on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

He dismissed the charges, saying: "There is no political party in the entire Caribbean and no country in the entire Caribbean that has given more to the regional integration movement than the Democratic labour Party as a party or than Barbados as a country."

Stuart said it was Barbados and Guyana who were "at the forefront of keeping the Caribbean Court of Justice alive".

While they were doing this, other countries were criticising Barbados but demonstrating that they believed their former colonial masters "are the best people to decide what is just and what is unjust for them".

He added: "They have no confidence in the people of the Caribbean. So I don't mind the talk . . . . When they demonstrate that they are committed to Caribbean people and to Caribbean values, when they demonstrate that they believe that justice can be delivered in the Caribbean at the same level and at the same quality as it was in the former mother country where the colonial masters reside, that is when most of them will qualify for my respect."

Stuart also questioned the readiness of some leaders for the CSME.

"If you are still at a stage where you do not trust your own people to dispense justice, to interpret your law, (to ensure) that justice can be done to your citizens, can you tell me that you are ready for a Caribbean Single Market and Economy?" he asked.

"You can't be ready. If you still believe that your former colonial masters have values higher than the people you want to lead, you cannot be serious about any Caribbean Single Market and Economy."

The CCJ was established in February 2001 and inaugurated on April 16, 2005.
Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago were the states which originally signed on to the agreement, followed by Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines two years later.

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