Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says if re-elected his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration will break from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its appellate jurisdiction.
Stuart, who made the disclosure at a DLP meeting in Eagle Hall, St Michael, while not going into details, cited disrespect from the Port-of-Spain-based court and the limited number of cases being brought before it.
“I want to say this, Barbados is not going back to the Privy Council because we are not going backward, life goes not backward or tarries with yesterday. But once the Democratic Labour Party is re-elected to office, I am determined, to put Barbados on the same level as every other CARICOM country by de-linking from the Caribbean Court of Justice in its appellate jurisdiction. We went in first and we can come out first,” Stuart said.
“That court had heard two cases for the year, two cases for the year, one from Barbados and one from Guyana.”
Stuart said he wants to make it clear that he is not commenting on the decisions of the CCJ, noting that as an officer of the court and as a lawyer, he respect the decisions that courts make.
“When I’ve disagreed with them I appeal them. But, I’m not going to have Barbados disrespected by any politicians wearing robes, it is not going to happen. And I spoke about this privately to the present president of the Caribbean Court of Justice. I don’t want to influence any decisions, I don’t care what they decide,” Stuart said.
“I think that the attitude coming from Port of Spain leaves much to be desired in terms of how its treating Barbados and I am not going to have a situation where other countries in the Caribbean keep a safe, safe distance from that court while Barbados supports its.”
In its Appellate Jurisdiction, the CCJ hears appeals from lower courts in both civil and criminal matters from countries which have decided that the CCJ should be their final court of appeal.
In its Original Jurisdiction, the CCJ interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas for countries, businesses and citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
In 2001, CARICOM member states established the CCJ to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.
But so far only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ, even though most of the 15-member grouping are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the integration movement.