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Diplomat hopes Antigua and Barbuda will ‘in time’ join CCJ

Jamaica Observer

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — The former head of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Dr Clarence Henry, says he hopes “in time” Antigua and Barbuda will join the Appellate jurisdiction of the Trinidad-based regional court.

Henry made the comment as he paid tribute to the CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron, the second Caribbean national to head the court that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

While most of the Caribbean countries have signed on to the court’s original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica, are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

Sir Dennis, who leaves office in July, will be succeeded by the St Vincent and the Grenadines jurist, Justice Adrian Saunders, who has been with the CCJ from its inception.

Henry, who led several public awareness activities last year, as Antigua and Barbuda sought to hold a referendum on joining the CCJ, said that as an “an outstanding son of St. Kitts and Nevis, Sir Dennis’s contribution reached far and wide across the Caribbean Community and internationally, and certainly will leave an indelible mark on regional jurisprudence.

“I celebrate Sir Dennis’s stewardship as President of the CCJ, which demonstrates that excellence and great exploits are not determined by the country of your birth, but by the inherent unquenchable desire to achieve in a chosen field of endeavour.

“Man must not be limited by psychological or physical borders, but set his sights on the attainment of heights reachable by his unrelenting determination to overcome and achieve, not only for himself, but also for his civilization.

“This truism is often misunderstood and I sense that it is being forgotten especially in the villages and townships across our Caribbean Community. We must redouble our efforts at addressing – crime, violence, unreserved anger, confusion over moral values, societal deviance, unabated corruption, which beset and leave young minds adrift from achieving and attaining real excellence and scholarship,” said Henry, who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

He asked whether “is it that that unrestricted “so-called” superior cultural penetration of the mass media and cable television have turned our Caribbean civilization to mimic others like “Madison Avenue” style lifestyle or the adoption of a Eurocentric reality?

Henry said that when the Antigua and Barbuda government “sought to adopt our own institution, the CCJ, “created by us, for the people of the Region” as a symbol of independence, trust and integrity, there were some who failed to understand the value of supporting the Regional Court.

“It was and still is my belief that many of the critics were misled through falsehoods including but not limited to political manipulation which stymied the public education campaign which Sir Dennis and others judges of the Court fully endorsed. I was fortunate as Chair of the Committee, to meet and interacted with Sir Dennis…and his contribution to the process was significant and much appreciated.”

The diplomat described Sir Dennis, as ‘a giant of a man’ and hoped that the Caribbean Community “will begin the process to tangibly recognise and document the sterling contributions of its sons and daughters.

“The time is now to celebrate the many unsung heroes across the length and breadth of the Caribbean Community. They do not have to be politicians, but people including ordinary citizens who have contributed and left an indelible mark in the discipline or chosen field of endeavour. We ought not to wait for them to pass to the great beyond to celebrate them. Let it be done now here on earth.”

He said while he is certain that the “baton of the Presidency of the CCJ will be handed to an equally able Caribbean jurist… it is my fervent hope that Antigua and Barbuda in time will join the other member states of CARICOM in adopting the Appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.”

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