September 25, 2009

St Vincent PM welcomes comments by London's new judicial head

St Vincent PM welcomes comments by London's new judicial head
Source: Caribbean net News
Published: September 25, 2009

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines -- The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, has welcomed remarks attributed to Lord Phillips head of the newly-created Supreme Court, which replaces the Judicial Committee.

The Financial Times has quoted Lord Phillips as stating that he is searching for ways to curb “disproportionate” time he and his fellow senior justices spent hearing legal appeals from independent Commonwealth countries.

Gonsalves has latched on to Lord Phillips' comments, to further press his case for persons to vote Yes in a Referendum in St Vincent on November 25 2009, to change its present Constitution.

The parliamentary opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has already started a campaign asking people to vote No and its former leader and founder, Sir James Mitchell, says he would like to see the Privy Council being retained as St Vincent's final court of appeal.

Gonsalves called a media conference on Wednesday, after reading the Financial Times article, and blasted those who want to vote against the proposed Constitution and keep the Privy Council as the country's final court of appeal.

If the referendum is passed in November, St Vincent and the Grenadines will become a full signatory to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

St Vincent and the Grenadines' current Constitution, which was handed down to the country in 1979 after it gained political independence from Britain, stipulates that the London Privy Council should be the final court of appeal.

This could only be altered by two thirds of the persons voting yes in a Referendum, to change the Constitution.

Gonsalves feels Lord Phillips’ comment is a “notice to quit colonial premises” and he was not willing to overstay his time.

“I shall not loiter on colonial premises for one moment than is necessary.

“We are a free and independent people and our judges are excellent; every single day our judges deliver the oxygen of justice. We have excellent judges on the CCJ and it is an excellent body,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said being part of the CCJ is like one having its own home. “We will not be tenants; we are owners.”

The Financial Times states the Privy Council judicial committee is now used as a London-subsidised top court by about 15 independent nations, most of them small islands in the Caribbean and Pacific.

“Those in St Vincent and the Grenadines who hanker for the continuation of appeals to the Privy Council have now received a proverbial slap in the face,” Gonsalves said

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