Remove options to leave CCJ, says Chuck

By Balford Henry,
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

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Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, says that the threat by the Barbados Government to leave the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), is evidence of a flaw in the court's jurisdiction.

“Nobody should be able to leave the court because they don't like a decision. We have to maintain that when you join the court, you stay there,” Chuck told a meeting of the Area One Council (Kingston and St Andrew) of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in Kingston, yesterday.

Chuck said that it would make no sense Jamaica joining final appellate which any member country can just walk out of when they felt they needed to do so.

“We could end up being the only one left there,” he told the crowd of Labourites attending the meeting.

He said that the constitution ruling the court should provide that once a country joins the court it must remain under its jurisdiction, unless it is rejected by a referendum vote.

Chuck told the Jamaica Observer after the meeting that his view has always been that a member country should only be able to withdraw without a referendum decision, otherwise member countries would use the option as a threat to seek favourable decisions from the court.

The justice minister was reacting to reports in the Barbadian press yesterday, that the Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had threatened to withdraw from the CCJ, as its final court of appeal, as “judgements coming out of the CCJ were not reflecting positively on Barbados”, according to that island's Nation newspaper.

Stauart described the judges of the CCJ as politicians in robes, and noted that Barbados was the first country to join the CCJ, and would be the first to leave if his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is returned to office, in the General Election set for Thursday, May 24.

Barbados Chief Justice, Sir Marston Gibson, also knocked the CCJ recently, for criticising the island's slow pace of hearing cases and delivery of judgements.

Currently only four Caribbean countries — Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica — are members of the CCJ.

The CCJ is based in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago although that country, like the other Caribbean islands, subscribe to the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council in London.

“I am not going to have Barbados disrespected by politicians wearing robes,” Stuart told a meeting in St Michael, Barbados Saturday night.

He said that the attitude coming out of Port-of-Spoain left much to be desired, in terms of how the court has been treating Barbados.

“And I am not going to have a situation where other countries in the Caribbean keep a safe, safe distance from the Court, while Barbados supports it and Barbadians are treated with the kind of disrespect that I see,” said Stuart, who is a Queen's Counsel and a strong supporter of the CCJ in the past.

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