PM willing to make CCJ SVG’s final court
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July 24, 2018
PM willing to make CCJ SVG’s final court

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has pledged his willingness to take the necessary steps to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final appellate court in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Gonsalves made this declaration during his address at the first ever special sitting of the CCJ in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which took place last Friday.

The sitting was held to celebrate the elevation of the third president of the court, Justice Adrian Saunders, who is a Vincentian.

CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders

“I never thought that I would live to see Caribbean Court of Justice sitting in St Vincent and the Grenadines, with one of our own from St Vincent and the Grenadines as the President,” the Prime Minister said. “I think the greatest tribute we can pay to Justice Saunders is for St Vincent and the Grenadines to become the next member of the CCJ in its final appellate jurisdiction.”

He explained that the move for CCJ to be St Vincent’s final appellate court was one of the constitutional changes rejected in the referendum held in 2009.

However, Gonsalves said that he has since learnt that what is needed is a two-thirds majority in Parliament to enact the change.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

“The government doesn’t have a two-thirds majority, but if the opposition… if they are of the mind to join the government in passing the constitutional amendment to have the CCJ, I will find time on the parliamentary agenda to do it very, very swiftly. I want to give that assurance to all those who are gathered here and to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

The Prime Minister lauded the CCJ for being a good court and said that it should be utilized.

In his address, Queen’s Counsel, Parnel Campbell echoed similar sentiments, citing that a nation cannot regard itself as truly independent if its final court of appeal was non-national.

Campbell said that he had dreamed of a court like the CCJ since the seventies.

“I am delighted to hear the Prime Minister pledge solemnly that he is willing to receive the CCJ in St Vincent and the Grenadines as the final appellate court,” he said.

Campbell noted that home countries for the two previous CCJ presidents failed to sign on during their tenure.

And he declared that it would be “a travesty and indeed a betrayal” if Saunders were to leave office after his seven-year term without St Vincent and the Grenadines signing on to the CCJ in the final appellate jurisdiction.

Queen’s Counsel Parnel Campbell delivering remarks at Friday’s special sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

“In the presence of your distinguished lordships, I would plead with the members of the honourable opposition to take to heart the comments of the Prime Minister and all the comments and implied pleas of those who have spoken before, to join with the government in bringing St Vincent and the Grenadines into the appellate jurisdiction of this court in the earliest possible time,” he said.

Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are the only countries to sign on to the CCJ in the final appellate jurisdiction since the court was established in 2005.