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Disappointed that Trinidad, Jamaica still not part of CCJ

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Editor: It is a known fact that appeals to the Privy Council cost a fortune, and dozens of Caribbean nationals were denied justice because they could not afford to move to the London based Privy Council. However, litigants who live in the four jurisdictions which abolished appeals to the Privy Council who are destitute can still have their appeals heard by the Port of Spain based Caribbean Court of Justice.{{more}}

The CCJ last Thursday celebrated its 10th anniversary since its

inauguration and President of the Court Sir Denis Byron made reference to the case of Ross v Sinclair, in which the regional court heard the case under special rules for poor people. The lawyers, both for the appellant and respondent, agreed to do the case pro bono (free of charge). The Court facilitated their arguments by way of teleconference, rather than them travelling to Port of Spain, and saving travelling and hotel expenses.

So far only four countries, Guyana, Barbados, Belize and just recently Dominica, have severed ties with the London based Privy Council. St Lucia and Grenada are expected to go on board soon. Sir Denis is baffled that most of the countries have not yet cut the apron strings with Britain. He quoted Trinidadian calypsonian Singing Sandra, when she sang “to foreign masters you bow, look how them judges in London, making final decisions for we. To their judgment we keep bowing, most insulting indeed, why to their council we must be privy?”

The CCJ is a breath of fresh air and we must embrace it, said Indira Rampersad, a lecturer in Political Science at St Augustine, UWI. President of the Trinidad and Tobago Bar Association Reginald Armour said “there can be no turning back on the road to maturation of the Caribbean.”

I am disappointed that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have not yet joined the Court, since these two big countries in CARICOM had been advising the smaller territories long before the inauguration of the CCJ to sever ties with the Privy Council and join the regional court. So far, only Guyana, Barbados, Belize and very recently Dominica have joined the appellate division of the CCJ. All Caricom countries are members of the original jurisdiction of the Court, which interprets the Treaty of Chaguaramas. It was the CCJ in its original jurisdiction which determined the Shanique Myrie case when it ruled that the Barbadian immigration authorities breached the Treaty of Chagua­ramas when they denied the young Jamaican woman entry into Barbados.

Oscar Ramjeet

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