Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Published on 2012-04-29 08:06:00
Trinidad and Tobago and the CCJ
By Ian Francis:
There comes a time during the lifespan of any administration when rapid decisions and press commentaries will be made about an important public policy decision headed to the lower House of Parliament. It came as no surprise when Madam Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago announced that the Republic will withdraw from the criminal appellate division of the British Privy Council and hand over this piece of the pie to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
While the prime minister’s announcement is a public policy step in the right direction, it is extremely difficult to rationalize her apparent pro-colonial thinking that the oligarchic Privy Council should still have some say in the final disposal of civil and constitutional matters. Madam Prime Minister, I strongly disagree with you and you should seriously re-think this one.I strongly submit that the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago consider the following: 1) Make a total break with the Privy Council; 2) Establish a good regional example to other CARICOM leaders who have been shamelessly vacillating on the CCJ; and 3) move expeditiously and include all the appellate jurisdictions, as the Republic’s decision is long overdue. Taking a slice and leaving another in the cupboard for later is not good politics for an independent nation. The late prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, would have taken everything away.Since her intended policy announcement to cut and share a slice of the pie, it was quite refreshing to read the comments of Dr Rowley expressing support for the move. While Dr Rowley’s comments are helpful and will move the process forward, as opposition leader, he has the right to suggest amendments to the proposed bill by reminding the prime minister that the whole cake should be brought home.Panday’s comments were not surprising as he is stuck in the “never come back mode”, discredited and very irrelevant to Trinidad public affairs. While his former United National Congress (UNC) must be given credit for supporting the creation of the CCJ and providing a headquarters in Port of Spain, it is time for him to move beyond the referendum concept.