Wednesday, April 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Time to get on board with CCJ


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WHEN CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM) leaders met with United States President Barack Obama Thursday last in Jamaica, there was a sense of unity on the part of the regional leaders. It was clear they recognised the importance of being like-minded on the issues that matter. Most people across the Caribbean understood and expected such a stand.

This Thursday, a decade after the official opening of one of the most critical institutions in CARICOM, there remains obvious fragmentation amongst regional nations. There is no real consensus on moving forward united and quickly.

We speak of them all not joining the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), a key body to help advance the regional integration movement and ensure that justice pervades every level of society across CARICOM member states.

This independent court still yearns for nations across the region to do the right and decent thing and get on board in all its jurisdictions. That Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are the only members fully subscribed to the court after all this time is a poor reflection on Caribbean people.

The British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which some influential people across the Caribbean want to hold onto, has not served this region any better than the CCJ in its brief history. There can be no argument about bias, weakness, partiality or intellectual shallowness on the part of the CCJ. There could not be a better structured court.

It is interesting to hear the dumb arguments being advanced by some in CARICOM about why the Privy Council should be retained in preference to the CCJ. There is the even dumber notion that international investors would feel better with an external final court. This speaks to a sorry absence of self-confidence.

These were some of the said arguments many opponents had advanced when the University of the West Indies was being established and indeed as various countries moved towards political independence. The cry was that as a region we were not ready and that bad would follow such undertakings. History has shown otherwise.

With the CCJ it is particularly important that Trinidad and Tobago as well as Jamaica sign on to the court’s appellant jurisdiction. Both countries are critical to regionalism and the development of Caribbean jurisprudence – which is why they must not allow trivial political points to hinder the next logical step forward.

Most politicians, who are often temporary in their jobs, and those lawyers who promote obstructionist positions, must look at the bigger picture in this instance. They must put country before self and also look at the relevance and role of the CCJ in helping to shape the future of the Caribbean.

Getting on board with the CCJ is the best way to show commitment to regional integration and cooperation.


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