CASTRIES – St Lucia Tuesday on signalled its intention to become the fifth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to have full membership of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.
Acting Governor General Cyril Errol Charles, delivering the traditional Throne speech at the state of a new Parliamentary term, told legislators that the government is committed to addressing “our destiny as an independent nation, both tacitly and tangibly.
“This year, St Lucia will take steps toward the accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. We are thus expected to become the fifth CARICOM member state to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ.”
Charles said that the Phillip J. Pierre administration, which enjoys a 13-4 majority in the Parliament, has appointed a committee under the chairmanship of former CCJ president, Sir Dennis Byron “to prepare the way for St Lucia’s accession to the CCJ.
“The draft legislation for the amendment of St Lucia’s Constitution to allow for accession has been prepared and will soon be available for public scrutiny,” the Acting Governor added.
All of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, only Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica have signed on to the Court’s Appellate jurisdiction.
In his address, Charles told legislators that the government is committed to bettering the governance framework and promoting a more secure and accountable democratic system.
He said constitutional reform has languished “for way too long” and that the government intends to “reignite the discourse on what form and style our democracy should take, especially within the context of the technological era of information communication technology (ICT).
“The Parliamentary Committee created for this purpose will be revamped and mandated to consider specific areas such as prime ministerial term limits, a fixed date for general elections, the appointment of a Deputy Speaker, and the matter of becoming a Republic,” Charles said.
He said that St Lucia is also moving towards strengthening regional institutions and that the government intends to strengthen functional cooperation and integration, particularly at the level of the Eastern Caribbean sub-region. (CMC)