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The CCJ not a priority for St Kitts-Nevis, says PM

By Clive Bacchus WINN From Caribbean News Now

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — St Kitts and Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has declared that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) not a priority for the Federation.

Responding to a question about the administration’s position on leaving the London-based Privy Council and establishing the CCJ as the country’s final court of appeal, Harris said the matter is not a priority at this time.

“In terms of the CCJ the cabinet has not made a determination with respect to that matter, it is a matter we will perhaps consider at a more proficient time. At this moment I think there is a sense that the Privy Council is favoured by the national community.

“It’s one of the matters that before we attend to this we will put before the people, have an educational program with regard to any movement away from the Privy Council and get a good grounding from the people where they want to go because there are very strong views for and against on that one.

“It is a matter someday we will have to confront, we don’t need to confront it today, so it is not a priority consideration at this time for the Team Unity administration,” he said.

The governments of Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda are putting the issue to the vote in referenda slated in both countries for November 6.

The former president of the CCJ, Sir Dennis Byron, in an invited comment on the issue of a referendum for the CCJ, recently told WINN FM that the CCJ is not a party issue, a referendum often requires a two-thirds majority for change and is largely inaccessible to ordinary people.

“What has been happening in our country is because of the cost, and the complexities and the difficulty of going to the Privy Council our people have not been having a final appeal. They just have a case and a court of appeal and most people have to stop there even if they are not satisfied. The CCJ has put a stop to that because, in the countries that have adopted our jurisdiction, people are coming to us. It’s easier, it’s cheaper, it’s on the spot and if you look at some of the decisions that we have made it’s impacted on the day to day life of the communities in ways in which the Privy Council never do. So I would have made it more interesting having those types of discussions. What is in it for me as a citizen here, is it good enough if one day two political parties each of whom can spend £300,000 to hire lawyers to go to the Privy Council? Is it good enough for that to be our final court of appeal, what happens to an ordinary citizen?” Byron said.

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