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(SNO) — Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association President Thaddeus Antoine believes that politicians should stay away, as countries in the region ponder on whether they should make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) their final appellate court.
The campaign to join the CCJ was dealt a major blow this week after Grenada and Antigua, in separate referanda, voted ‘no’ to joining the Trinidad-based court.
In an interview with MBC Television, Antoine expressed disappointment at the outcomes and is of the opinion that governments should not get involved in educating the public when it comes to matters concerning the courts.
“Sad to say, people view anything coming from the governments with cynicism,” he stated.
He noted that it is sad but it’s just the reality.
“So we have to move away from governments in that respect,” he pointed out.
However, Antoine believes the commonly-held concept that the CCJ could be politically influenced is not legitimate.
“When you look at the construct of the CCJ, the government is not involved in the appointment of any judges,” he said. “People like myself in being a member of the OECS Bar Association are involved.”
When asked whether there are recommendations from regional prime ministers in the appointment of judges, he said there are none.
“No, none at all,” he replied. “We have a Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission which is made up of different persons from civil society, different organizations like the OECS Bar, organizations like the Commonwealth Bar, different organizations throughout, which make recommendations and appointment of the judges, not on the behest, not beholden to any government whatsoever.”
Antoine explained that the only input that the government has in the appointment of any judge is when it comes to the president of the court.
“And that is only after the commission recommends,” he said.
Dominica, Barbados, Belize and Guyana are the only CARICOM countries to adopt the CCJ as their final appellate court, while the rest, including Saint Lucia, still use the London-based Privy Council.