Former Saint Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has observed that Barbados has achieved two constitutional milestones by replacing the Privy Council as its final Court of Appeal and moving towards becoming a republic.
Dame Sandra Mason is set to be sworn in on 30 November as the president of the republic.
The date will mark Barbados’ 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.
“These decisions of Barbados bring the spotlight to us,” Dr. Anthony, a constitutional lawyer, wrote on his official Facebook page.
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And the Vieux Fort South MP wonders whether Saint Lucia has the courage to at least take the first step and, like Barbados, replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final Court of Appeal.
The full post by the former University of the West Indies law lecturer appears below:
Barbados continues to surprise the nations of CARICOM. On December 01, 2021, its citizens will wake up to a President as its Head of State. It will take some time to get accustom to the idea, to the new status.
Over the past few years, Barbados has achieved two constitutional milestones which have surprised me. It has done the unthinkable. First, it jettisoned the Privy Council as its final Court of Appeal and adopted the Caribbean Court of Justice(the CCJ) then secondly, it replaced the British Monarchy as its Head of State in favour of a Republican President.
These two actions were unthinkable for the simple reason that for years we treated Barbados as the most anglophile nation in the Commonwealth Caribbean. We ridiculed Barbados whenever we had the opportunity. There is no hope for “Little England” we would say. Yet, among the nations of the region, Barbados, in recent times has chosen to be the most courageous.
Both of these constitutional reforms had their origin in the Report of the Constitution Commission established by Owen Arthur some years ago. Owen Arthur trusted the leadership of the commission to the esteemed and distinguished, Sir Henry Forde. I believe that Owen, watching in the heavens beyond, probably has a smug, possibly wry, but knowing smile of satisfaction.
These decisions of Barbados bring the spotlight to us. Do we have the courage to at least take the first step and like Barbados, replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final Court of Appeal? For one thing, our Parliament now has the two thirds majority specified by Constitution to amend the section of the constitution allowing appeals to the CCJ.
Secondly, our Court of Appeal, albeit by way of an “Advisory Opinion” of a majority, has said we do not need a referendum to take that step.
For my part, we should tarry no further and collectively, act together in unison, to commence the process to repatriate our constitution to where it belongs, in the sovereign will of our people.
Surely, we have a duty to make final appeals in judicial matters accessible to the vast majority of our population not only to the few who can afford it before the Privy Council.