Caribbean Commonwealth Urged to Drop Right of Appeal to UK Privy Council

Shridath ramphal - former secretary general of the commonwealth
Shridath ramphal - former secretary general of the commonwealth

In 2001, twelve Caribbean countries signed a treaty to establish a Caribbean Court of Justice. Despite this, only Guyana and Barbados have adopted the CCJ as their court of appeal with several countries still sending appeal cases to the UK’s privy council.

Privy Councillor, Lord Phillips, has attacked the amount of time British Justices have to spend on Commonwealth appeal cases, when countries are able to form their own court of appeal. The main sticking point for development is the presence of the death penalty in several Caribbean countries. The UK systematically opposes the death penalty wherever it occurs whereas some Commonwealth Caribbean countries do not. This leads to many death penalty cases ending up at the Privy Council.

Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, used a lecture hosted by the Commonwealth Legal Forum last week to urge reform of Caribbean judicial structures.

Now that we have created our own Caribbean Court of Justice and done so in a manner that has won the respect and admiration of the common law world, it is an act of abysmal contrariety that we have withheld so substantially its appellate jurisdiction in favour of that of the Privy Council.

Someday the Caribbean as a whole must accept abolition of the death penalty. I believe they should have done so already, but in a situation of heightened crime in the region popular sentiment has been reflected in political reticence.


In This Story: Barbados

Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island and an independent British Commonwealth nation. Bridgetown, the capital, is a cruise-ship port with colonial buildings and Nidhe Israel, a synagogue founded in 1654. Around the island are beaches, botanical gardens, the Harrison’s Cave formation, and 17th-century plantation houses like St. Nicholas Abbey. Local traditions include afternoon tea and cricket, the national sport.

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In This Story: Caribbean

The Caribbean is a region of the Americas that comprises the Caribbean Sea, its surrounding coasts, and its islands. The region lies southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and of the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

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Guyana, officially the Co‑operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast, is defined by its dense rainforest.

Its capital, Georgetown, is known for British colonial architecture, including tall, painted-timber St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. A large clock marks the facade of Stabroek Market, a source of local produce.

Guyana is the only South American nation in which English is the official language. The majority of the population, however, speak Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole language, as a first language. Guyana is part of the Anglophone Caribbean.

It gained independence in 1966, and officially became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.

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