Enforcement remains yet a most thorny issue. This must have been an
observation coming out of last Friday’s Shanique Myrie Judgment –– if not
one of the several touted lessons to be learnt.
It requires, therefore, from our leaders profound forethought when they
embark upon new strands of governance; in particular, when they whine
and dine at Heads of Government level, producing thereafter dicta, the
implementation of which they do not understand and/or which they are lax
in incorporating into the laws of their sovereign states.
The Caribbean Court of Justice, by its Myrie ruling, has made it clear
that Barbadian law (as well as that of other member states) is secondary to
CARICOM edicts. The question is: why didn’t our political leaders present
themselves as knowing this before?
With misconception or amnesia reasonably to blame for the failure of
the powers that be to inform and instruct, our Immigration and Customs
officers –– and our police –– could hardly be any wiser. The Guyana bench
at the Grantley Adams International Airport would yet to be nailed to the
ground, and the Shanique Myries unceremoniously unentertained.
It is not opaque then that there is a disconnect between what is
uttered loftily and issued through sombre communiqués from the halls
of CARICOM and what continues to obtain in the political dominions
of our individual Caribbean leaders. It can hardly be successfully argued
that these Caribbean heads fully grasp the consequences of their declared
commitments at these Heads Of Government Conferences when
they return home, making not an iota of modification to their respective
island state laws.
If indeed we are wrong, and they do understand the gravity of their
pledges and obligations, perhaps on more sober reflection they recognize
their conflicts of purpose, and set upon doing nothing, hoping their dilemma
would quietly and unobtrusively go away.
And now that the Myrie Judgment has legally asserted that CARICOM
travellers have a right to entry of neighbouring states –– even up to six
months –– without impediment or hindrance, in the context of the 2007
Conference Decision and the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas,
Miss Myrie’s lawyer Clyde Williams is triumphantly trumpeting to all of
Jamaica that more Jamaicans –– workers and businesspersons –– need to
take their unresolved problems with their CARICOM partners to the CCJ.
In particular, Mr Williams was referring to the alleged unfair trade
practices of Trinidad and Tobago –– which have been said not to hasve
gone unnoticed and in some cases unchallenged in Barbados.
Caught unawares by the Myrie Judgment, CARICOM member states have
elected to place the landmark ruling high on the agenda of their November
meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Develpment in Grenada.
Says Antigua’s trade coordinator Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry: “We
look towards seeing the full judgment so that we can study it and learn from
it as a region . . . .”
Learn other than that the court has clearly defined and established
the rules of movement of CARICOM nationals in and out of jurisdictions,
Ambassador Henry says the ruling underscores the need for “continuous
training of border security employees”. We aver that our leaders need to
be more circumspect, forthright and forthcoming after they have had their
private club meetings. The life, times and rights of the nations they lead
depend upon it.
The irony of it all is that the CCJ has ruled in favour of a Jamaican
national, with the intervenor being Jamaica that does not recognize it as its
final court of appeal. And when Jamaican traders take action against Trinidad
before the Caribbean Court, they will be seeking redress from a member
state that itself does not hold the CCJ as its final appellate court in civil
matters –– even though the CCJ’s headquarters towers over the landscape
of Port of Spain.
Jamaica and Trinidad (the latter on criminal matters only) still look
towards the British lords of the Privy Council for final resolution. Could we
reasonably consider that both would go to London, should a CCJ ruling not
be in their favour? And the thing is, once a matter relates to the Treaty
Of Chaguaramas –– trade, or as in the Myrie case, free movement or
discrimination based on nationality, they both have access to the CCJ,
the only court legally empowered to adjudicate on such.
It tempts you to ponder how well grounded indeed is the CARICOM
Community and how sustainable is the CCJ as it now stands.