Wednesday, March 31, 2004

T&T: No more Privy Council, please!

At the moment the Privy Council is the focus of attention with regard to a final determination on the vexed question of the mandatory nature of the death penalty. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is our highest court of appeal. This is the case for other Commonwealth countries as well. In other words, its decisions are final and are the highest authority as guides in mapping out the rules for our daily lives. The lives of many in this “death sentence appeal” for instance, literally hang in the balance, no pun intended. At the same time rumors have already begun to circulate as to who shall be appointed the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice which has recently been created to exercise not only an original jurisdiction over matters of interpretation of the Treaty of Chaguaramas but to replace the Privy Council as the final court of appeal.

In Trinidad this has become embroiled in controversy and matters have reached a head in Jamaica where the Bill adopting the Caribbean Court of Justice has been challenged as being unconstitutional.
Here's hoping that if Jamaica withdraws, as she did from the Federation, Manning doesn't pull an Eric Williams and say 1 from 10 leaves 0. The current Euro resistance to the death penalty, something which Caribbean peoples want, is definitely an argument in favor of establishing a Caribbean Supreme Court and jettisoning the Privy Council. People need to know the judges who are deciding matters vital to the state are not distant from the state and the distress visited upon it by the criminals in the midst.

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