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Owen Arthur blasts regional countries for not joining CCJ

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Editor: While the St Lucia Government is waiting the greenlight from the UK to delink from the Privy Council in order to join the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur has blasted governments from the countries which not yet abolished appeals to the Privy Council.{{more}}

Arthur’s recent comments were made in Jamaica at the Gleaner Editors’ Forum over the weekend. His criticism was severe on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, who, he said, fought for the regional court to be headquartered in that country and to date it has not yet joined the appellate division of the court. He pointed out that maybe the twin island republic is the only country on the planet in which a court is located, of which it is not a member. Jamaica, the other large state in the region, was also criticized for the delay.

The Heads of Government in the region took a decision since 1988 to establish the regional court and I recall the Edward Seaga JLP government was in the forefront, with Trinidad and Tobago urging countries to join the regional court. It took 17 years for it to be established on April 6, 2005, and now 10 years after inauguration, only four countries, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, and recently Dominica, have severed ties with the London based Privy Council.

St Lucia, which recently successfully sought an opinion from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal for that country to join the regional court without a referendum, will seek approval from Parliament after receiving formal blessings from the British Government. Approval from the St Lucia Parliament will take some time, because there is a 90-day laying and debating period before a vote is taken and it requires a two-third majority of the lawmakers.

The process is slow and the governments are not in a hurry; but, nevertheless, the president of the CCJ, Sir Denis Byron, is optimistic that before the end of next year the two big countries, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and most of the Eastern Caribbean countries will be on board.

Oscar Ramjeet

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