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Colonial mindset blamed for slow accession to CCJ
Published on March 14, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Justice Adrian Saunders

By Ken Richards

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judge, Vincentian Adrian Saunders, says there is good reason for the remaining Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states that have not yet done so, to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

Saunders addressed the matter while delivering a lecture on the Rule of Law in the Caribbean, as part of a Good Governance lecture series organized by the St Kitts and Nevis government.

“The establishment of that court is a very important milestone in the orderly de-linking from imperial and colonial control. It is the next logical step in the de-colonization process and until it is taken, we cannot be said to have completely rid ourselves of vestiges of our colonial experience. We at the CCJ have not hesitated to take the measures we have considered appropriate whenever we were convinced that a Caribbean government was compromising the rule of law. In a sense we are privileged to be able to apply the rule of law in the Caribbean both on a regional plain as well as a domestic plain,” Saunders said.

While all CARICOM member states have acceded to the original jurisdiction of the court, only four: Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica have so far made it their final appellate court.

The others have remained with the London-based Privy Council to date.

Saunders says there are clear accession worries, which he believes date back to colonial times.

“During the colonial experience the harshest forms of oppression were meted out by our immediate persons we interfaced with in our respective countries. Whether the guy who had the whip with the gang, or the slave master, or the local governor and very often in order to ameliorate that harshness you had to petition England to get redress and very often you got redress because it didn’t suit colonialism for those kinds of excesses to occur. They could extract the wealth and benefit in the way in which they wanted to benefit without that kind of harsh brutality,” he said.

According to the Caribbean jurist, that practice led to the region’s people growing up with the notion that justice is something which is best obtained from overseas.

“It is very hard for us to begin to think that we are capable of producing judges of a sufficient caliber to resolve our final disputes. They had a big thing here two years ago and the Privy Council gave a judgement and people said, aha, you see, praise God for the Privy Council, now why didn’t anybody say well the CCJ would have given that same judgement, nobody will say that. So it’s about how we think about ourselves and our abilities and I don’t know when that will change but how long are we going to have a foreign court be our final court of appeal staffed with judges who, ya’ll ever see any of them here, I don’t know. Law is not mathematics, interpreting the constitution is not a mathematical equation, if so you wouldn’t have judges you would have computers. Judges give judgement and judgement must be informed by an awareness of the values and aspirations of the society for which you prescribe in a judgement,” Saunders said.

However, he expects that in time the CCJ will be fully accepted by all its Caribbean member states.

St Kitts and Nevis has not so far made accession to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction a priority.

Republished with permission of West Indies News Network
Reads: 7473

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C. ben-David:

The insecure and self-serving Caribbean elites never tire of peddling this racist anti-colonial crap. These same elites are hypocritically 100 percent in support of other external courts like the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

The people on the ground who are actually affected by these court decisions have the wisdom and knowledge, based on hard experience, to reject the whole cadre of mainly crooked and incompetent lawyers who eventually end up on the Caribbean bench.

Long live the Privy Council!

Louis Bernard:

"The insecure and self-serving Caribbean elites never tire of peddling this racist anti-colonial crap. " ben-David I could not have agreed with you more.

The key words here are "insecurity" and elites", and their partisan political affiliation, which incorporates the endemic political corruption that has over taken our societies. It has blinded their minds and clouded their judgements, to the point where justice in the region has become a disservice to the people for whom it is supposed to provide justice from among other things, the current reign of oppressive governments.

It highlights the immaturity of our current day jurists, and their ability to effectively interpret, and apply the laws; as opposed to them making convenient laws of their own, thus determining that certain persons are above the law.

This is so evident particularly in the OECS states, that it causes the people to question the competency of most of these judges.

Would you believe it that a sitting judge in the OECS jurisdiction was heard to remark, that it was not very likely that judges would rule against any sitting government"; and I personally hold that view with regards to the CCJ, until and unless this court demonstrates otherwise.

I wish that in all their hypocritical posturing’s, they would tell the people the true genesis of this so called independent court.

This CCJ in my view, is a blow to Caribbean Jurisprudence. I, and many others share my view that we were better served by a court that was truly independent of the two bit politicians that now infest the region.

james bristol:

agree with the above comments. A lack of political maturity is holding us back. even outside the Court system we treat each other worse than the white man did.

this is not a black/white issue but an ethical issue and one of trust and faith in the impartiality of our courts.

Remember the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supremee Court when she mentioned the interference with the Judiciary.

Carlton Dumas:

It's time other CARICOM member states take that final stride to reinforcing their independence. Some of us have no confidence in our fellow countrymen and regional brothers and sisters. We are still tied down by 'slave mentality' and believe that the white man and England know better. It's high time we stop the nonsense of travelling thousands of miles away, waste a whole bunch of money and time.

Between 2001 and 2003, 12 Caribbean countries signed the agreement to establish the CCJ, today only four countries us them as the final appellate court. This tells us that we have no confidence in ourselves and as an independent community, we still choose to rely on the UK. What is independence if we can't make these decisions on our own?

Louis Bernard:

Carlton, your argument is the strongest yet against this CCJ.

If those who came up with this CCJ idea were so pro independent community, and wished to sever all "Colonial" ties, why not develop their own legal system, rather than continue the same legal system that does not address our cultural differences?

Why is it that these intellectual elites believe that they can fool all the people all the time. They claim to be anti-colonial justice executed by colonial judges, but they want to retain the "Colonial Legal System".

C. ben-David:

Carlton Dumas, you are one or more of the following:
1. lawyer
2. judge
3. politician
4. old-school Black power community activist
5. mentally enslaved by the post-independence neo-colonial rhetorical bullshit
6. extremely naive about how our legal system actually functions (vs. the way it is supposed to work for the fair and equal treatment of our people)

The ordinary people of the four countries who were stupid enough to sign on to a regional court of last resort will live to regret it.

Edna Kumi:

This Adrian Saunders is a two faced man.Who is only interesting in himself and not his people.The Legal system in the West Indies is so corrupt we the poor people cannot get justice.Think about it when Ralph Gonsalves wanted Canoun back from the Americans he had to go to the Privy Council.I just wondered when the 66 people the Government of St Vincent hasn't paid for the lands would Adrian Saunders represent us.


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