PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday November 7, 2018 – The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is disappointed that Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda have voted against making the Trinidad-based court their highest appeal court, but it says it remains committed to improving justice in those two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations and the rest of the region.
“While the news is not what we hoped for, we respect the people of both nations and their decision,” CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders said in a statement issued after the referenda results were announced. “The court will naturally continue ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies in each of these countries, and the wider Caribbean, through the JURIST project and otherwise.”
He added that despite the result, there were some good things coming out of the referendum exercise.
“One of the positives…is that there was sustained public education in both nations and the conversation about the CCJ intensified. We can see the fact that there was more interest in our website, ccj.org, and on our social media platforms, on LinkedIn and Twitter.
“As we begin to implement our Strategic Plan for the 2019-2023, which includes a renewed focus on public education, we will certainly be taking advantage of the increased audience, and the interest that has been piqued, to provide more information about the work of the court,” Justice Saunders said.
In Grenada, 45.05 per cent of voters in the referendum said yes to the move to the CCJ, while 54.39 per cent voted to remain with London’s Privy Council as the island’s final appellate court. In Antigua and Barbuda, about 47.96 per cent voted for the adoption of the CCJ and the remaining 52.04 per cent chose to retain the Privy Council. Both countries needed a two-thirds majority to see the measure pass.
“These results will not, of course, deter us from serving with distinction those nations that currently send their final appeals to us. As well, the court will also continue to process and hear applications from all CARICOM States, and from CARICOM itself, in our Original Jurisdiction, and our justice reform work in the region will also continue,” Justice Saunders said.
In fact, the CCJ president noted that an Original Jurisdiction case originating from Grenada is currently before the Court.
Additionally, he noted, the JURIST Project—a multiyear justice reform project being implemented by the CCJ on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM states—is working on a Sexual Offences Model Court to be housed at the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.