The leader of the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Mia Mottley has dismissed a suggestion by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that if he is re-elected to office in Thursday’s general election, a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration will break from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its appellate jurisdiction.
She said that Stuart’s statement may have been as a result of a recent ruling by the Trinidad-based CCJ regarding the registration of Commonwealth citizens to be included in the voters list ahead of the May 24 general election here.“This is a country that used to be govern by the rule of law, this is a country where we respect the rule of law and we are a country when it came to joining the Caribbean Court of Justice,…Barbados went forward with certainty because drunk or sober, mind your business outside of this island boundary we are one people,” Mottley told a public meeting here on Sunday night.
The CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, ruled that the Barbados laws regarding the registration of Commonwealth citizens, who have been resident here for more than three years went were unlawful.
“The long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires. The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” the CCJ ruled during its unprecedented sitting two Sundays ago, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.
Stuart, addressing DLP supporters on Saturday night, cited disrespect from the CCJ and the limited number of cases being brought before it for his pending decision.
“I want to say this, Barbados is not going back to the Privy Council because we are not going backward, life goes not backward or tarries with yesterday. But once the Democratic Labour Party is re-elected to office, I am determined, to put Barbados on the same level as every other CARICOM country by de-linking from the Caribbean Court of Justice in its appellate jurisdiction. We went in first and we can come out first,” Stuart said.
“That court had heard two cases for the year, two cases for the year, one from Barbados and one from Guyana,” Stuart said, adding that he wanted to make it clear that he is not commenting on the decisions of the CCJ, noting that as an officer of the court and as a lawyer, he respect the decisions that courts make.
“When I’ve disagreed with them I appeal them. But, I’m not going to have Barbados disrespected by any politicians wearing robes, it is not going to happen. And I spoke about this privately to the present president of the Caribbean Court of Justice. I don’t want to influence any decisions, I don’t care what they decide,” Stuart said.
“I think that the attitude coming from Port of Spain leaves much to be desired in terms of how its treating Barbados and I am not going to have a situation where other countries in the Caribbean keep a safe, safe distance from that court while Barbados supports its.”
Figures show that last year, the CCJ dealt with 10 cases in the Appellate Jurisdiction from Barbados and in this month it has heard one matter from Barbados and delivered judgement in another.
The research shows that four matters have been heard this year so far from Barbados.
Mottley told supporters that because the prime minister was in disagreement with the CCJ ruling, he is trying to bring it down.
“…and don’t tell me it is not about the Commonwealth citizens, because why the Prime Minister did not tell you about it four weeks ago, why didn’t he tell you about it three weeks ago.
“You don’t like the fact that the Solicitor General and all of the government advisors tell you have no case, you can’t stop these people from voting. The law is as clear as ABC. The Chief Justice tell you so, the Court of Appeal tell you so, the Solicitor General Stand up in the court and concede the point, so you did not have to get it argued, you mean to tell me that with the EBC members you got on the boundaries commission…
“But could you imagine that you have these judgements at first instance, at the Court of Appeal, you mean you still had to move the Caribbean Court of Justice on a Sunday morning. The mere fact that a court outside of Barbados …meet on a Sunday morning, what that tells you, it is urgent,” she said.
“You get a decision you don’t like and by the next weekend you talking about pull Barbados out of th Caribbean Court of Justice. I am shame of my Prime Minister, I really am because nobody would ever expect that kind of comment and who has he consulted with.
“Has he consulted with the Bar? Who has the Prime Minister consulted with? And let’s get back real, let’s say you are upset about the fact that CCJ criticising Barbados, who can the CCJ criticise after all what the CCJ has told us you can’t keep people on remand for three years and four years and five years. The CCJ has done nothing different from any major court in the world,” Mottley told supporters.
Barbados, Guyana, Dominica and Belize are the only Caribbean countries that have signed on the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.
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