Replace Privy Council with CCJ
Published: 28 Aug 2010
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is renewing a call for the People’s Partnership (PP) Government to support the removal of the Privy Council as this country’s final court of appeal. He said T&T should honour its original promise to have the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal. The CCJ is headquartered in Port-of-Spain. Rowley made the call in his message to mark the observance of this country’s 48 anniversary of independence on Tuesday.
The CCJ was established to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final appellate court. Under then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, T&T had committed to accepting the CCJ as its final court of appeal but when his government lost power, there was a change of heart. Rowley said independence must mean more than giving national political independence. He said independence should also mean that nationals must be responsible for interpreting the laws of the land and arbitrating on issues impartially. “Independence must also mean giving full responsibility for this to nationals,” he added.
He said T&T had reneged on a promise to have the CCJ replace the Privy Council as the nation’s final court of appeal. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said recently that the people of T&T must decide via a referendum whether the CCJ would replace the Privy Council. Rowley said the politicians were “not more committed to the development of T&T than our jurists. To so imply is to cast an unwarranted slur on them.” He said accepting the CCJ as the country’s final court of appeal was long overdue. “For the PNM, this is an issue of principle, not opportunism,” he added. The CCJ was inaugurated in 2005 and also has an original jurisdiction. Guyana, Belize, Barbados and St Lucia have replace the Privy Council with the CCJ as their final court of appeal.