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Should the CCJ be our highest appellate Court?

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The highest court of a nation or region should function as a democratic institution of governance.

It does more than just decide a case, but it defines a culture of the people.{{more}}

This was the premise of a public forum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) held on Thursday, February 11, at the Methodist Church Hall.

And with public debate on the CCJ not being as open or extensive as it should be, the University of the West Indies Open Campus organized the event in an effort to better inform persons on issues relating to the new appellate court.

The night’s event featured Professor Simeon McIntosh, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados, and newly appointed judge on the CCJ, Charles Anderson.

Both men presented papers in support of the implementation of the CCJ.

Arnhim Eustace, Opposition Leader, raised the issue of political interference in the court.

Eustace expressed his concern that there was insufficient confidence among the law fraternity in the justice system and what mechanisms were in place to prevent it from taking place.

McIntosh was of the view that this argument was not one to be used as grounds against the implementation of the CCJ as the region’s highest appellate court.

“There has been recognition of this problem, and the solution is not going to come as quickly as we would like,” McIntosh explained.

Instead, the problem begins with the issue of due process, or the principle that the government must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law.

“The setting up of the CCJ with a variety of talents could help with the problem,” McIntosh opined.

“The problems that are affecting us today are not under the watch of the CCJ. In fact, it has not had a chance to correct the problem,” he further explained.

He added that like the mother institution, the Privy Council is a colonial institution.

“The Privy Council represents the crown and is not representative of the West Indian people,” McIntosh said.

“It dispenses a service to us, but in essence it is so far away it is not in sync with our democratic governance.”

“For us in the Commonwealth Caribbean, the judges of Her Majesty’s Privy Council stand side by side with those who write our historical essays, our novels and poems and paint our masterpieces,” all grounds for the CCJ to be implemented in order to correct these problems, he contended.

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