Antigua to decide whether they want the CCJ or not Print E-mail
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Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

Readers of the Guardian newspaper know very well that Belize’s highest Court, where all appeals are final, is the Caribbean Court of Justice. It may be a distant memory but up until May 2010, the CCJ was not Belize’s final arbitration panel. That job was handled by the Privy Council, headquartered in London, England. That was part of the justice system which the country inherited when it got independence from the British, but right now, there are a number of CARICOM territories who still send final appeals to the Privy Council.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has declared that in his 6 months as interim chair of CARICOM, he intends to encourage those member states to take the steps to adopt the CCJ as their final court of appeal. One such nation which is on its way to doing so is Antigua and Barbuda. It’s CARICOM Ambassador, H.E. Dr. Clarence Henry, attended the Twenty-Seventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of The Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which was held on the Placencia Peninsula. Part of his mission was to update the CARICOM member states that Antigua and Barbuda has just established a National Coordinating Committee which is responsible for the preparation of the campaign toward the adoption of the CCJ as Antigua & Barbuda’s final arbitration panel. That awareness campaign will start in earnest on March 10, and will proceed with a number of town hall meetings, and public discussion on the benefits of adopting the CCJ. It will lead up to a referendum where the population will decide collectively in a democratic process of whether or not their country should switch from the Privy Council to the CCJ. The outcome of that referendum will decide what step Antigua and Barbuda takes on this issue later.

CARICOM member states who have acceded to the CCJ as their final Court of Appeal are Barbados, Belize and Guyana.