Dominica looks to CCJ as final appeal court

The Commonwealth of Dominica is moving to join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Appeal (CCJ) as its final court of appeal.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who said that it has to iron out some constitutional matters affecting the wider Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“We have indicated several times our commitment to the CCJ and we have gone to the Parliament to recognize the court in its original jurisdiction.

“We have indicated publicly the government’s intention of recognizing the court in its appellate jurisdiction. Clearly there is a procedure within the Constitution we have to follow. We have to go to Parliament and get the two-thirds majority but there is a process of the amendment,” he said.

But Skerrit said there was still need for discussions with Britain “to allow us to go to the CCJ. If not we have to get a referendum.”

The CCJ was established in 2001 by regional governments to replace the London-based Privy Council.

“We have to negotiate our accession to the CCJ with the British,” he added.

However, while most of the 15-member CARICOM grouping are members of the CCJ’s original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction.

Skerrit told reporters that the different constitutional requirements within the sub-region have also affected the ability of the OECS countries to move towards the CCJ as a single body.

He said the OECS already enjoys a “single jurisdiction” and he did not want to create the situation where “Dominica would have gone and the rest would have to remain with the Privy Council.”

The prime minister said Dominica still maintains the position that talks should be held with Britain, adding “it makes no sense St. Kitts goes, Dominica goes and everybody follows.”

“We need to have a discussion with the British on this to indicate to them our intent and to get their understanding,’ he added.

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