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OECS opposition parties urged to reject CCJ
Published on July 28, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The recent announcement by the incoming chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, that he intends to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the ultimate legal body of all member states by the end of his tenure has drawn a reaction from the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent.

Leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent
In affirming his party’s opposition to joining the CCJ without the express consent of the citizens throughout the OECS territories, Prudent insists that such a move would not only serve to devalue the principles of democracy but could also eventually ensure that both the legal and political systems are controlled by cowards who are distrustful of the independent judgment of their own people.

According to Prudent, in this regard, it would seem unconscionable for any right-thinking person to accept that, after years of hauling political opponents to court and displaying public attitudes which have, at times, seemed disrespectful, intolerant and condescending towards others, Roosevelt Skerrit, Kenny Anthony, Ralph Gonsalves and Denzil Douglas, among others, could be found to be sufficiently credible single-handedly to approve the CCJ as the final appellate body of the OECS.

“To understand the sudden rush to adopt the CCJ as the final appellate court in the next 12 months, one must first understand the school of thought that currently exists among the various labour party governments within the OECS community,” he said.

Prudent explained that, for many years now, it has been the belief of certain Caribbean leaders that the CCJ would be an easier legal entity to control than the Privy Council, which has had a very long history of independence and does not conform to the influences or interferences of any political directorate.

“Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that, by getting rid of the Privy Council (the only legal body which has, for decades, consistently provided effective checks and balances against government overreach and other tyrannical tendencies within the OECS and the wider Caribbean), the current OECS governments would be in a greater position to seal the legal fate of thousands of citizens who, technically, no longer have access to a truly independent court of last resort. The CCJ would, in effect, become the court of such governments, since they -- and not the people -- were responsible for providing the legitimate means for it to operate within the OECS,” he said.

Prudent suggests that such a move would not only provide the basis for gross political interference within the CCJ but may also even lay the basis for the possible future appointment of partisans, such as Dr Kenny Anthony and even his controversial Dominican-born attorney, Anthony Astaphan.

“There are dark clouds which threaten the continued expansion of democracy within the region, including alterations to the original intent and purpose of the CCJ.

“Therefore, in light of these latest developments, it would be irresponsible of any opposition party within the OECS community to ignore calls for a coordinated strategy to push back against these current regimes’ diabolical plans to secure unfettered power. Whether through civil disobedience or mass public protest, resistance must be mounted,” Prudent concluded.
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James Bristol:

I agree with the writer. As a long-standing lawyer and former attorney general and president of the Grenada bar, I am deeply concerned by the move to the CCJ as it is being driven by politicians and not by the public's cry for better justice before the Privy Council. Once politicians instigate such a move, it brings into question the bona fides of their motives. I have experienced political interference in the OECS Court at all levels.The mind bogggles at what the consequences will be.

M. J Davis:

Even if I am a Dominican - I have generally respected Therold Prudent's political thought. But as a lawyer whom have admired the advancement to integration within OECS and have hope for Caricom to catch up - and as a grandson of a regional integrationist I have had great hope for the CCJ.

Please sir, provide examples where the Privy Council (the only legal body which has, for decades, consistently provided effective checks and balances against government overreach and other tyrannical tendencies within the OECS and the wider Caribbean) has had to rule to prevent governments in the region from overreach or other tyrannical behavior?

I request this history so as to understand your thinking as to the future you are predicting regarding this citizen choice matter - is it politics or patriotism?

Margaret London:

I am in total agreement with Prudent's position!!! These leaders must understand that they are working with us and for us and not for themselves. From what I have seen in the Sangster and Dixon's case, I am afraid of the CCJ like ghost is afraid of holy water.

Martin Imhoff:

Mr. M. J Davis

I basically share the same sentiments as James Bristol. Here in ANTIGUA we had a ban on radio stations (possibly for 28 years, do not quote me on the time period) . The only thing we heard was the government's radio station and a radio station owned by a member of the ruling family. The case had to reach the Privy Council for us to get JUSTICE here. We now have possible 10 radio stations. WHY WAS THIS NECESSARY?


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