Former Attorney General urges country to put aside partisan politics ahead of referendum

Former Attorney General Justin Simon QC

Former Attorney General Justin Simon QC, has called on the population to put aside partisan politics in the runup to a referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), scheduled for later this year.

During an interview on state media, Simon this is what he will be pushing while on the trail to promote the Trinidad based CCJ.

Justin Simon

“I am not saying that people will not have their political difference, but let us sink them in respect to this particular cause.”

Simon, who served as AG under a previous administration of the United Progressive Party (UPP), made comments following  calls by the UPP – now the main opposition party, for the referendum to include more than one item in the context of constitutional reform.

However, the former Attorney General believes that the referendum should remain a one issue initiative.

“I am of the strong opinion and view that the CCJ should be dealt with on its own by itself. We look at the experience of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which placed other issues of constitutional reform on the table and that was rejected,” Simon said.

The London-based Privy Council presently serves as the island’s final court and the referendum on November 6 will allow for the population to indicate whether they intend to join the CCJ that was established in 2001.

While many of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

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  1. You know I listened to the argument of someone calling himself Mr. Knight on Observer Radio call in program VOP. His contention was that the lower court just the other day had three cases in which the crime was having sex with a minor. One was a businessman having sex with two 13 year old. The businessman was granted bail. One was a church brother having sex with a 15 year old and impregnating her. He was not granted bail. The last were two police men charge with rape and buggery and they also where not granted bail. The suggestion he made is that the businessman got bail because he is obviously white, I have no knowledge if that is so. But the heck lets take that as a fact.So in his mind the system is tainted and the magistrate or High Court judge is in collusion somehow with the businessman. Lets say all that is so. But than he conclude that it’s these very same magistrate and judges will end up sitting on our CCJ. That is where I believe he is so uninformed of the process of sitting on the CCJ as a Judge. Or even coming close to the Court of Appeal. The reason we have three levels of adjudication is because we know that the lower courts can get it wrong. And the selection to sit on lower court is not as stringent as that of a High Court. And that of a High Court is not as stringent of that of a Court of Appeal. And that of a Court of a Appeal is not even half as stringent as that of a the CCJ. But he fails or lack the knowledge and sees a straight line from the lower court to that of the CCJ. The magistrate court has people who where not for long just lawyers. And it’s only certain cases go to them. The High Court is a little more involved and get the real cases. And when they do not get it right the Court of Appeal with deal with it. We had seen it in the 2009 Election case. We had Justice Blenman deciding the case in the ALP’s favor, only to be overturned by the Appeals Court. Just the other day we had some Barbudans taking the government to court over the construction of the new airport. The magistrate ruled in their favor and the project is not halted. Is that not justice at work. The Government now has the right to appeal this judgement. These people’s No vote against the CCJ is baseless and is build upon fear fueled by their own preconceived notion. One I called prejudism against their own people. Which to me is the worst of all. Because if a white person is prejudice against a black person you can call them out of being racist. But what do you call the person who is prejudice of their own race. Other then being bound in mental slavery. You tell me.
    And the most crucial thing is how many citizens in this country can afford to take any case that they have to the Privy Council. Lets be fair and honest. Only the rich and those who have quite some money stacked away. Not the ordinary men and women. And the CCJ has proven to accessible to almost everyone. See the cases they heard from ordinary persons. And they have ruled swiftly.

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