March 13, 2010

Thompson calls on CARICOM countries to become members of the CCJ

Get with it!

Published on: 3/13/2010. The Nation Newspaper

ROSEAU, Dominica - Prime Minister David Thompson yesterday called on all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to ensure that they are full members of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region's final court.

Thompson, who is attending the CARICOM inter-sessional summit, told reporters that it was necessary for regional countries "to get with it" since their reluctance to join the CCJ could weaken the efforts towards establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

"It is clear that it has set it back in the sense that obviously grappling with domestic challenges means that we will not have the space, either the fiscal space or the time to devote to some of the policy initiatives that would see the progress in relation to the single economy," Thompson said, adding that "even our private sectors, which are very much part of the development of the single economy, are battling with big challenges.

"The irony of that is that we still have to be prepared or preparing for the post-recession period, and to that extent we have produced in Barbados a medium-term development strategy, which does to some extent depend on us meeting obligations to the Single Economy," he said, adding that he would make that document available to his regional counterparts."

Only Barbados and Guyana are members of both the appellate and original jurisdictions of the CCJ that also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which governs the regional integration movement.

"It is not enough in terms of sheer numbers; neither is it enough psychologically to give confidence to citizens that the CCJ is a viable entity and, therefore, much more needs to be done

"It weakens the CCJ when the country that is the headquarters of the CCJ, Trinidad and Tobago, is not a country that has acceded to the CCJ. So it is just one of those areas in which people see a yawning gap between the promise of unity and performance and as long as that is not resolved it will pose major difficulties for us," Thompson told reporters.

He said CARICOM countries needed to take full charge of their future destination and join other former Commonwealth countries that have broken ties with the Privy Council.

"This is the year 2010 and if we have any faith in ourselves then we need to get cracking on ensuring that all our countries are subject to the jurisdiction of the CCJ and let us not act as if somebody else can interpret our constitutions and everyday life situations better than we can.

"It is a sad indictment on the region," he told reporters. (CMC)

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