Antigua and Barbuda’s Parliament on Tuesday night gave the nod to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) becoming the island’s final court as the government made an impassioned plea to replace the London-based Privy Council and assert the country’s total independence from Britain.
But Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle, who was among two opposition legislators that abstained when the vote was called for on the legislation, said that while the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) had no problems with the CCJ, it was still demanding that efforts be made to “fix’ the lower courts there before the move is finalised.
Earlier, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin urged legislators to adopt the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Amendment Bill 2018, saying many other countries that were once colonies of Britain have established their own judicial system.
Benjamin also took issue with the fact that in order to join the CCJ, there was need for a referendum with a two-thirds majority support, saying some islands like Barbados do not have that stipulation in their constitution.
The Attorney General said that the situation regarding the Privy Council was an affront to any “self-respecting” Caribbean man, and urged legislators “to do the right thing” and support the legislation.
Antiguans and Barbudans vote in a referendum on November 6 to decide whether to replace the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ, which also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.