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Antigua sets November 6 date for CCJ referendum

Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
ST JOHN'S, Antigua —November 6 is the date when Antiguans and Barbudans will vote in a referendum to determine whether the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) would be the nation’s final court of appeal.

Last month, the Gaston Browne led administration revealed plans to hold a referendum by year end on whether or not the island will adopt the Trinidad and Tobago based CCJ, as its final court.

In announcing the date of the referendum, the government said an education programme, geared towards the process, will most likely intensify following carnival celebrations.

Government Chief of Staff Lionel "Max" Hurst told the media that the opposition party was stalling the process after having expressed the desire for there to be overall constitutional reform. However, Hurst said the government would likely proceed with or without the support of the UPP.

 Lovell told OBSERVER media in an interview, that  the perquisite for such decision, calls for greater discussion on the constitution and why it should be modified. “We feel that what people need is a whole education about our constitution and why it should be reformed. But not simply to just brush aside the concerns that people have on the issue of the CCJ,” he said.

“Our position as a party is that it would be much better to engage the people of Antigua and Barbuda in a national education campaign on constitutional reform and include the CCJ discussion”, Lovell added.

“As it stands now, people are just seeing the CCJ. They believe there is going to be political interference and they have many concerns and many fears.” said Lovell.

He added that he does not think “shoving the process through”, would be the best way to bring about the desired results.

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region's final court, but while many of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the court's Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica are members of its Appellate jurisdiction.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

In 2016, the government had hoped that the referendum would have been held by March 2017, however, opposition legislators and others then warned that citizens were not fully educated on the issue.

Currently, only four out of 15 Caricom countries have signed on to the regional court in its appellate jurisdiction.

These are Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana. Other Caricom countries use the London-based Privy Council.

  • Countries: Antigua_Barbuda

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