(CMC) — Barbados has expressed its disappointment that only four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have joined the appellate jurisdiction of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who attended the 29th CARICOM Inter-Sessional summit that ended on Tuesday, said that it is unacceptable that, to date, only four member states have joined the Court.
“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.
“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,” Stuart said.
While most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction.
Stuart said that 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.”
Prime Minister Stuart said that Barbados is of the view that, “you can’t have one foot in and one foot out” in terms of the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
He expressed optimism that the matter would be addressed at the next CARICOM summit to be held in Jamaica in July and that more definitive answers would be taken on what steps member states proposed to take to correct the situation.