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Dominica to cut ties with Privy Council, join CCJ

Thursday, January 03, 2013    

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says he intends writing Britain later this month to seek permission for Dominica to sever ties with the London-based Privy Council in order to join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

"This month, January 2013 God's willing, we shall write formally to the British government indicating to them our intention of severing ties with the Privy Council and seeking their agreement on that," Skerrit said.

"As you know, the Constitution of Dominica calls for a negotiated departure with the British government," Skerrit said, adding "if that is done it will not require a referendum, so we just have to get an agreement with the British government.

"Certainly in 2013 Dominica will move very speedily to recognise the CCJ as our final court," he said, noting that the island has been paying for the regional court established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council.

Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries have taken a US$100 million loan from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to meet the operation of the CCJ and ensure its financial independence.

"Dominica is, in fact, paying for the operation of the court through a loan taken by Caricom from the CDB. We are, in fact, paying our portion of this loan, and we believe it is a very serious court and it is going to be much easier for the average citizen to seek redress from," Skerrit said.

The CCJ, which has both an original and appellate jurisdiction, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

Dominica attained political independence from Britain in 1978.

Skerrit said that accepting the CCJ as the island's final court would allow for nationals to petition the Trinidad-based court because it would be much cheaper than going to London.

"It will make it much cheaper for the average citizen to be able to seek redress from the CCJ because going to the Privy Council can be very expensive for many and the expense has been a deterrent for many who would like to seek further justice...," he added.

"We will be moving very speedily in 2013 (to join the CCJ)," he said.

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