ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Attorney General Justin Simon QC continues to make the media rounds, advocating for the controversial Caribbean Court of Justice as a replacement for the London-based Privy Council as the final court of appeal.
“The establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), as the final court of appeal, could prove very beneficial for the country as well as the wider Caribbean as a whole,” Simon said on Crusader Radio.
Simon said the idea of the CCJ was mooted 40 years ago in 1970, that the debate on the pros and cons has waged for all that time, and that the region must now demonstrate that it has come of age.
The attorney general said while other Commonwealth territories have withdrawn from the Privy Council and formed their own national courts of appeal, the Caribbean and three other islands in the Pacific are still holding on to the umbilical bond to Great Britain.
“As colonial countries embraced nationhood, they made the determination that not only must political independence be within my borders, so should judicial independence, and we are the last ones that are left,” Simon said.
Referencing concerns that the level of jurisprudence would be less than desired and concerns that the ties that bind could impact decisions, Simon said the CCJ judicial committee consists of highly reputable judges.
“The treaty which establishes the Caribbean Court of Justice does not confine the membership to persons of Caribbean lineage. It makes it very clear that the members would be persons from the Commonwealth; it’s from a very wide pool that the members would be selected,” Simon said.
He also reiterated a point that he made in the past, that the Pricy Council is cost prohibitive and therefore out of reach for the average Caribbean national.
After seven years, only three counties – Barbados, Belize and Guyana – have accepted the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction. The other members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) used the court in its original jurisdiction, to apply and interpret the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. (With reporting by Theresa Gordon)
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