Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit at a recent press conference told reporters that his Government is committed to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“We took a capital decision in 2005 on the CCJ. We had gone to the parliament to recognize the court in its original jurisdiction. We have indicated publicly government’s intention of recognizing the court in its appellate jurisdiction. Clearly there’s a procedure in the constitution that we have to follow. We [now] have to go to Parliament to get the two thirds majority of the parliament… and of course there’s a process of the passage of the amendments but critically we have to negotiate with the British to allow us to go to the CCJ, if not we have to go to the referendum. We have to negotiate our [access] to the CCJ with the British.”
The Prime Minister added, Dominica is in a single judicial jurisdiction like other OECS countries and that is what has held [Dominica] back.
“We did not want to create a situation where Dominica would have moved to recognize the court and the rest would have still been with the Privy Council creating challenges… Dominica and St. Kitts have similar provisions in their constitution and we have to follow the same steps. St. Lucia on the other hand is not the same. They had [an] issue [and are] now seeking to get an advisory on what the intent of the draft was as it relates to the Constitution. In Grenada you need to have a referendum… so you have different countries having different requirements as the constitution allows… But we have taken a decision at the last OECS meeting that we should ALL seek to move to recognize the court. The intention is that St. Kitts and Dominica because of the similar provision would move ahead with recognition of the court… but Dominica still holds that we need to approach the British together. It makes no sense [that] St. Kitts goes, Dominica goes and everybody follows… [Therefore] we need to have a discussion with the British on this to indicate to them our intention and to get their understanding in that regard. We believe it’s a waste of money because we in fact paid for the court. We are a signature to the loan taken from the Caribbean Development Bank to create this hundred million US dollar trust in the name of the Caribbean Court of Justice, so we have that particular issue that we need to look at. I believe that you have well respected judges on this bench.”
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the Caribbean regional judicial tribunal established on 14 February 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice was signed by the CARICOM states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2003, two further states, Dominica and St. Vincent and The Grenadines signed the agreement, bringing the total number of signatories to 12.
In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ interprets and applies the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (which established the Caribbean Community), and is an international court with compulsory and exclusive jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation of the treaty.
In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ hears appeals as the court of last resort in both civil and criminal matters from those member states which have ceased to allow appeals to the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (JCPC).