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Saint Lucia’s Parliament votes to make CCJ its final appellate court

Posted: Wednesday, March 1, 2023. 9:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will soon add a fifth member in its appellate and original jurisdictions after the Parliament of Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean voted this afternoon to have the country join, replacing the Privy Council in London, according to Antigua News Room.

Saint Lucia joins Belize, Barbados, Guyana, and Dominica after the ruling party’s legislators all gave their support, meeting the special three-fourth majority of the 17-member parliament to pass the Constitution of St Lucia (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

While the CCJ was established and remains based in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago as of February 14, 2001, neither Jamaica nor Trinidad have yet agreed to join over concerns of bias among other things. This is despite these countries hosting the region’s two major law schools and two-thirds of the University of the West Indies (UWI) legal program (the other leg being in Barbados) as well as providing judges to the CCJ.

National referendums undertaken in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada, both held in 2018, resulted in a majority of electors in those countries rejecting a switch of final court of appeals from the Privy Council to the CCJ. Other Eastern Caribbean countries have special provisions that need to be triggered before entry.

After an aborted attempt in 2007 under Said Musa, Belize joined the CCJ on June 1, 2010, during the premiership of Dean Barrow. Notable decisions from the Court in its Belizean jurisdiction include The Maya Leaders Alliance & others v. The Attorney General of Belize [2015], in which the Government consented to the adoption and implementation of a communal land rights and use regime among the Maya villages in the Toledo District; and Tomlinson v State of Belize and State of Trinidad & Tobago [2016], in which the court re-affirmed an earlier decision regarding entry to CARICOM states by all nationals who are not considered “undesirable” or expected to become a public charge on the state (although Maurice Tomlinson, the claimant, was told he was not in any danger of being barred from entry to Belize or Trinidad simply because he was homosexual and in spite of archaic laws purporting to ban such persons from entering Belize). In 2017, Belize provided the Court with a judge, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, who continues to serve today.

 

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