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CARICOM leaders discuss CCJ

Upon taking up the seat of Chairman for the Caribbean Community in January 2016, Prime Minister Dean Barrow mentioned that one of the goals on his agenda was to advocate for the member states that have not yet subscribed to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal, to do so. Those member states who are yet to do so but have expressed intentions are Grenada, St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda.  According to Ambassador Doctor Clarence Henry, Antigua and Barbuda is looking to launch the campaign to its residents for their country to leave the Privy Council.

Ambassador Doctor Clarence Henry

“I am just appointed about a month ago to head the National Coordinating Committee responsible for preparation of the campaign towards the adoption of the CCJ as Antigua and Barbuda’s final court of appeal. Indeed the campaign has been going very well, we launch in earnest on the 10th of March and it will be followed on the 11th by a youth forum and a business breakfast bringing together the private sector in Antigua and Barbuda and there will be a number of town hall meetings. This particular campaign will hopefully lead up to a national referendum sometime later this year. As you are aware Antigua and Barbuda is one of those Caribbean countries that must undertake a referendum in order to migrate from the judicial committee of the Privy Council as part of our constitutional requirement.”

Dr Henry went on to state that meetings have already been lined up that seek to discuss the way forward in this process with the Privy Council.

Ambassador Doctor Clarence Henry

“We are very happy that the Privy Council have signaled its willingness and support to follow and to accede to the wishes of the Antigua and Barbuda population. On the 24th of this month I shall be meeting via Skype with the head of the JCPC and we will be doing a similar exercise in which we will be exchanging views on how our public relations sensitization education program will incorporate their services. They have indicated so far that they will provide whatever technical matters, assistance, material or physical support so that at the end of the day it will be the people of Antigua and Barbuda’s decision whether to migrate from the Privy Council and adopt the CCJ. We intend to ensure that they will be fair and balanced, transparent consultations across the nation because at the end of the day it is the people of a nation that we must ensure participate in a democratic process and the government of Antigua and Barbuda is determined to ensure that that happens.”

With this move to adopt the CCJ as their final court, Dr Henry says there is consensus with the main opposition party in Grenada and that the public consultations will be held in all areas of the country, leading up to their national referendum.

Ambassador Doctor Clarence Henry

“We also have the support thus far from her majesty’s opposition the United Progressive Party and we intend to go all through the nation, all highways byways and town hall meetings, all civil society organizations getting feedback from them, dispelling misconceptions, we will be informing, educating and we welcome this particular process. It is long overdue, it is time for this region to embrace this initiative and as even Grenada goes forward I understand they are intending to launch as well sometime this year their public education campaign. This 2016 marks a new start of a process where we adopt local indigenous institutions, home grown institutions as we seek to celebrate the diversity, the efficacy of regional integration.”

Belize joined the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2010 under the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.  Currently there are four countries that have adopted the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final appellate court, namely, Belize, Dominica, Barbados and Guyana with several others in the process of following suit.