CCJ president perplexed at Caribbean people still finding “excuses” to support Privy Council

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CCJ President Adrian Saunders

By Caribbean News Now contributor

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) president, Justice Adrian Saunders, says he remains perplexed that Caribbean people are still finding “excuses” in support of the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

Saunders, who received an honourary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said that he remains confident that, like other regional institutions, the CCJ will be embraced by all the people of the Caribbean.

“I remain confident that, as is the case with, for example, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Examinations Council and, of course, The University of the West Indies, to name just a few, the time will come when the CCJ also will be recognised as another of those Caribbean institutions whose vital contribution to the region can almost be taken for granted,” he said.

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court. But while all the Caribbean countries have signed on to the Court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will hold national referendums on Tuesday on whether or not to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ.

Saunders told the ceremony that it is vital for Caribbean people with their fractured experiences over the past four centuries to have self-belief:

“A clear sense of ourselves. An understanding of our worth as human beings and of our ability to forge our own destiny…

“It is perplexing to me, for example, that so many people in the region contrive to find excuse upon excuse to justify the anomaly that, after 50 years of political independence, the laws that we proudly make should ultimately be interpreted and applied by a British institution, staffed with British judges, all of whom reside in Britain.

“This, after CARICOM states, over 15 years ago, established their own court, precisely to serve that purpose. This, after US$100 million was spent to guarantee that court’s sustainability. This, after the court has successfully been operating for well over ten years serving the needs of some states.”

He said that, when he tries to explain this to his colleagues from Asia, Africa and Latin America, as he is sometimes obliged to do at judicial colloquia, “this ceases to be an anomaly.”

“In the face of the incredulity expressed by my colleagues, it becomes an embarrassment linked directly to our perception of ourselves and the level of confidence we have in our capacity to take full responsibility for our own governance…” he explained.

Saunders, from St Vincent and the Grenadines, the third Caribbean national after Trinidadian Michael de La Bastide and St Kitts and Nevis national Sir Dennis Byron to head the Trinidad-based CCJ, said, “I temper my perplexity, I look to the future and I remain confident.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This is certainly not “… linked directly to our perception of ourselves and the level of confidence we have in our capacity to take full responsibility for our own governance” but to a deeply rooted and well deserved distrust of the holders of power in our corrupt and corruptible “Caribbean civilization”: the police, the political establishment, the legal profession, and the courts, all of whose senior members and close associates are part of a tiny self-serving elite who share the same friendships, family ties, beliefs, values, and sins.

  2. I guess the above comment justifies our continued dependence on relying on other people to fix our problems. I will continue to say that colonialism is alive and well.

    • What is the difference to me (as a Bahamian) if the highest court is in the UK (“other people”) or in Trinidad (“other people”)? I have certainly had a lot more to do with the “other people” in the UK than those in Trinidad, Barbados or St. Lucia. I studied in the former and was born in a colony of it.

      Personally, I favour a final court of appeal in our own country with no recourse to ANY other court beyond its borders. But why I should favour a Caribbean Court of Justice over any other foreign court is a mystery to me.

  3. Mr.C ben-David, it appears that you have very deep hatred, anger and resentment as you continually vent
    and rant. You assert that, “but to a deeply rooted and well deserved distrust of the holders of power in our corrupt and corruptible ‘Caribbean civilization’: the police, the political establishment, the legal profession, and the courts, all of whose senior members and close associates are part of a tiny self-serving elite who share the same friendships, family ties, beliefs, values, and sins.” Mr. ben-David it is very easy to point fingers and criticize, easier to tear down than to build up and to shun responsibilities than to shoulder responsibilities. The question I will like to ask you as a Caribbean National, what are doing, or what can you do to change or turn things around? I read your articles and comments on the CCJ, I respect your opinion but I have not observed that you offered anything constructive which can be utilized to fix the CCJ’s ‘perceived or inherent problems’. Please direct your anger and energy towards problem fixing, in that way we will have a better Caribbean to live.

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