June 26, 2009

Privy Coucil Must Go

Ramphal makes an appeal...

Privy Council must go

Published: 26 Jun 2009
Source: Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Leading Caribbean jurist Sir Shridath Ramphal yesterday called on all Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries to abolish appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, and to join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), in both its appellate and original jurisdiction. Speaking at the inaugural conference of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain, Ramphal said, “It is almost axiomatic that the Caribbean Community should have its own final court of appeal in all matters.

“A century-old tradition of erudition and excellence in the legal profession of the region, leaves no room for hesitancy,” he added.

Welcome remarks came from CCJ President Michael de la Bastide and Chief Justice Ivor Archie. Jurists from throughout the Caribbean are attending the three-day conference. Ramphal, a former Commonwealth secretary-general, pointed out that Guyana abolished appeals to the Privy Council when it became a republic 39 years ago. “I am frankly ashamed when I see the small list of Commonwealth countries that still cling to that jurisdiction—a list dominated by the Caribbean,” he said.

“Now that we have created our Caribbean Court of Justice in a manner that has won the respect and admiration of the common-law world, it is an act of abysmal contrariety that we have withheld so substantially its appellate jurisdiction in favour of that of the Privy Council. Ramphal, a Guyanese, said Caribbean countries must move forward quickly in endorsing the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

He said, “We must not abolish appeals to the Privy Council merely because we disagree with its rulings in capital punishment cases; that abolition, which must come, must be a consequence of our determination to endow our own Caribbean Court of Justice with the status of our final Court of Appeal in all matters; a consequence of the exercise of our right to self-determination in judicial matters too. “We have not established the Caribbean Court of Justice to give decisions to our liking; but to give decisions under law,” he said.

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