PRESS RELEASE-The recent announcement by the incoming chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, that he intends to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the ultimate legal body of all member states by the end of his tenure has drawn a reaction from the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent.
In affirming his party’s opposition to joining the CCJ without the express consent of the citizens throughout the OECS territories, Prudent insists that such a move would not only serve to devalue the principles of democracy, but could also eventually ensure that both the legal and political systems are controlled by cowards who are distrustful of the independent judgment of their own people.
In this regard, it would seem unconscionable for any right-thinking person to accept that, after years of hauling political opponents to court and displaying public attitudes which have, at times, seemed disrespectful, intolerant and condescending towards others, Roosevelt Skerrit, Kenny Anthony, Ralph Gonsalves and Denzil Douglas, among others, could be found to be sufficiently credible to single-handedly to approve the CCJ as the final appellate body of the OECS.
To understand the sudden rush to adopt the CCJ as the final appellate court in the next 12 months, one must first understand the school of thought that currently exists among the various labour party governments within the OECS community.
Prudent explained that, for many years now, it has been the belief of certain Caribbean leaders that the CCJ would be an easier legal entity to control than the Privy Council, which has had a very long history of independence and does not conform to the influences or interferences of any political directorate.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that, by getting rid of the Privy Council (the only legal body which has, for decades, consistently provided effective checks and balances against government overreach and other tyrannical tendencies within the OECS and the wider Caribbean), the current OECS governments would be in a greater position to seal the legal fate of thousands of citizens who, technically, no longer have access to a truly independent court of last resort. The CCJ would, in effect, become the court of such governments, since they — and not the people — were responsible for providing the legitimate means for it to operate within the OECS.
Prudent suggests that such a move would not only provide the basis for gross political interference within the CCJ but may also even lay the basis for the possible future appointment of partisans, such as Dr. Kenny Anthony and even his controversial Dominican-born attorney, Anthony Astaphan.
There are dark clouds which threaten the continued expansion of democracy within the region, including alterations to the original intent and purpose of the CCJ.
Therefore, in light of these latest developments, it would be irresponsible of any opposition party within the OECS community to ignore calls for a coordinated strategy to push back against these current regimes’ diabolical plans to secure unfettered power. Whether through civil disobedience or mass public protest, resistance must be mounted, Prudent concluded.