SAN JUAN – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Britain’s Privy Council “has failed” his nation as court of final appeal, calling for a referendum on replacing it with the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The Caribbean Community confirmed in a statement Friday that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has launched a public education campaign on the possibility of amending the constitution to make the CCJ the court of last instance.
“The Privy Council is clearly an outmoded colonial construct that was designed exclusively for the wealthy few and has failed to provide broad-based accessibility and dispensation of justice to the masses,” Browne said in comments cited by the Antigua Observer.
Last August, Browne signed a memorandum of understanding with the opposition leader to begin consultations on amending the constitution to make the CCJ the country’s final appellate court.
The amendment would have to be approved by voters in a referendum.
Twelve of the 15 CARICOM member-states are signatories of the CCJ: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
All 12 use the CCJ as a court of Original Jurisdiction for interpretation and application of the treaty establishing CARICOM, but only Dominica, Barbados, Guyana and Belize employ the CCJ as the court of final appeal in civil and criminal cases.