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We need our own justice system

We need our own justice system

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“We cannot continue to be dependent on the United Kingdom to have final advocacy of our justice. That just cannot be right!”

So says veteran lawyer Anthony Astaphan who was adamant that the time has come for Caribbean nationals, especially those in the OECS, to take full control of their justice system.{{more}}

“It is an unfortunate legacy of our colonial past that only people in England could give us justice and not our own people. I think it is unfortunate that, that thought is still in the minds of the masses of politicians,” said Astaphan.

His pro CCJ stance comes in the wake of a Privy Council ruling that favours the Commission of Inquiry into the Ottley Hall project, for which he is investigating counsel.

He acknowledged that opposition to the CCJ by some politicians stems from a flawed understanding of the Court’s structure.

He categorically dismissed fears of potential political interference in the appeal court system.

“We’ve had an OECS Court of Appeal, perhaps I might get a little licks for saying this, (but) when it comes to the question of the Chief Justice you require a unanimous vote. We saw the political play between Antigua and St Kitts … and we now hear rumblings out of Grenada that Prime Minister Keith Mitchell would not agree to appoint Brian Alleyne who was a High Court Judge in Grenada, who made rulings against the Grenada Government,” Astaphan exclaimed.

Astaphan said there is a greater threat of political interference at that level than there is with the right of the people to get expeditious and fair justice before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Referring to the December 4 Privy Council ruling on the Commission of Inquiry’s validity, Astaphan said: “As an aside it may well be that this extraordinary delay on a matter which obviously had no merit in view of what’s been said may well give us good reason to focus our attention on the Caribbean Court of Justice. I doubt very much the court in Trinidad would have taken two and a half years to dispose of such a very simple matter.”

Astaphan said it is unfortunate that politicians in the OECS are still skeptical about the CCJ.

Barrister at Law, Joseph Delves, admitted that at first he was one of the lawyers that was hesitant about the implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice but having to wait such a long and “unnecessary” period to get justice at the Privy Council he is convinced that in the expedition of justice Caribbean nationals need to have their justice system in their own hands.

Delves and Alair Shepherd QC, represented St Vincent and the Grenadines at the hearing in England at which lawyers representing Richard Joachim and Glenford Stewart mounted a challenge to the validity of the Commission of Inquiry into the Ottley Hall Marina project.

“The experience in this matter of having to wait over two years for this matter to come on, for a matter that is actually very simple because the Privy Council dismissed it in less than two hours and then having to travel the huge distance basically in a foreign country, in a foreign person’s land to get your own justice …it just bring home to me the fact that we need to have justice system in our own hands to have our final appellate court in our own hands. I am sure that if this matter had gone to the CCJ it would have been disposed of and heard a few months after it was brought there,” said Delves.

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