BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday March 2, 2018 – Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described as unacceptable and “a disgrace” that only four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have so far made the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) their final appeal court.
While most CARICOM countries have signed on to the court’s original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have replaced the London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad-based court that was established in February 2001 and began operations in April 2005.
“We contend that it is a disgrace that after the Caribbean Court of Justice has been in existence for so long, that only four countries have signed on to that court in its appellate jurisdiction,” Stuart said at the end of the 29th Inter-Sessional Summit of CARICOM heads in Haiti this week.
“I do not buy the argument that there is a division of opinion in the countries that have not signed on to the court in its appellate jurisdiction, because the biggest decision that CARICOM countries have had to make has been on Independence.
“If we’ve all decided that we want to be independent and we were able to unite the population on those issues, I cannot see why on matters relating to how our disputes are handled and how our grievances are addressed that we still believe that the former colonial master is better than people here in the Caribbean,” Stuart contended.
He insisted that countries could not “have one foot in and one foot out” in terms of the jurisdiction of the CCJ.
However, the Barbadian leader expressed optimism that the matter would be addressed at the next CARICOM summit in July, and more definitive answers would be taken on what steps members states proposed to take to correct the situation.
That 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM will be held July 4 to 6, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.