Poll­ster says po­lit­i­cal process needed to get ap­proval for CCJ

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

BRIDGETOWN, Bar­ba­dos (CMC) — The head of the Bar­ba­dos-based Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Re­search Ser­vices (CADRES), Pe­ter Wick­ham, says a po­lit­i­cal process is needed for Caribbean coun­tries to fully em­brace the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ).

Vot­ers in Gre­nada and An­tigua and Bar­buda ear­lier this week re­jected moves in sep­a­rate ref­er­enda to re­place the Lon­don-based Privy Coun­cil as the re­gion’s fi­nal court. In the case of Gre­nada, it was the sec­ond oc­ca­sion that the vot­ers there had re­jected the CCJ, which was es­tab­lished in 2001 and also serves as an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal in­ter­pret­ing the Re­vised Treaty of Ch­aguara­mas that gov­erns the re­gional in­te­gra­tion move­ment, Cari­com.

Fig­ures re­leased by the An­tigua and Bar­buda Elec­toral Com­mis­sion showed that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote se­cured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

In the case of Gre­nada, the fig­ures re­leased by the Par­lia­men­tary Elec­tions Of­fice showed that the “No” vote se­cured 12,133 as com­pared to 9,846 for those sup­port­ing the CCJ.

“I think the idea of be­ing non-par­ti­san was an at­tempt to deal with the re­ac­tion Dr Mitchell (Gre­nada prime min­is­ter) got be­fore when he was told it was too par­ti­san,” Wick­ham told the Caribbean Me­dia Cor­po­ra­tion (CMC), not­ing that the par­ti­san ap­proach had been tried which seemed to have failed.

“I think what they were try­ing was a non-par­ti­san ap­proach. When fail­ure seemed im­mi­nent then the par­ti­san­ship, cer­tainly in the case of An­tigua and Bar­buda, last minute it came in, and then again it did not work out.

“Frankly I think what you will have is an Op­po­si­tion ly­ing in wait and us­ing its poet to frus­trate this process at ev­ery turn of the way. I think whether it is par­ti­san or non-par­ti­san ul­ti­mately peo­ple will have to un­der­stand that a par­ti­san, po­lit­i­cal process or a po­lit­i­cal process is what will get the CCJ pass,” Wick­ham said.

He said this had been the case in the other coun­tries — Bar­ba­dos, Belize, Do­minica and Guyana — where no ref­er­en­dum was called to al­low vot­ers to in­di­cate whether or not they sup­ported the CCJ, which has both an Orig­i­nal and Ap­pel­late Ju­ris­dic­tion.

“A po­lit­i­cal process is what is needed to get it passed in these coun­tries [that do not have the leg­isla­tive re­quire­ment]. So the fact that you have a ref­er­en­dum, there is no obli­ga­tion for a ref­er­en­dum to be seen in a par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal way.

“If a politi­cian and a leader sup­ports it, he sup­ports it be­cause it is a good thing. It is not nec­es­sar­ily a party po­lit­i­cal is­sue be­cause you can vote against the Gov­ern­ment and then sup­port a ref­er­en­dum be­cause you sup­port the CCJ.”

Asked what would be the next step for Caribbean gov­ern­ments to get the re­gional pop­u­la­tion fully on board the CCJ, Wick­ham said the fail­ure to get An­tigua and Bar­buda and Gre­nada vot­ers to ac­cept the Trinidad-based Court “may well end to give it some en­ergy”.

“Be­cause I think the con­ver­sa­tion in both places has been iso­lated to the ex­tent to which peo­ple who do not sup­port it are es­sen­tially sup­port­ing a very back­ward, non-in­de­pen­dent ap­proach to Caribbean de­vel­op­ment, and my hope is that against the back­ground you will get some en­ergy from Ja­maica, some en­ergy from Trinidad and Tobago, some en­ergy maybe from St Lu­cia and places that do not re­quire a ref­er­en­dum.

“I think if that hap­pens, if we have an­other large pop­u­la­tion, like Ja­maica or Trinidad and Tobago, com­ing on board it will give the CCJ the en­ergy, and I think it will fur­ther iso­late the coun­tries in which the ref­er­en­dum is nec­es­sary…and hope­fully bring them on board.

“I am con­vinced that if we had Gov­ern­ment and Op­po­si­tion stand shoul­der to shoul­der that this CCJ could be pulled through. But the op­po­si­tion has to grow up, have to be more ma­ture, and have to stop us­ing this as an op­por­tu­nity to pun­ish a gov­ern­ment for their own fail­ures at the elec­tions,” Wick­ham told CMC.

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