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Caribbean and the Colonial Court System

Monday, September 28, 2009

John Bull (the British Uncle Sam) in a late 19th century cartoon.

While reading the IPS news wire I came across an interesting article on a subject I never knew of before:

In an interview with the Financial Times of London last week [my link], the British jurist indirectly endorsed the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) when he noted that he and his senior justices spend a “”disproportionate” amount of time hearing legal appeals from independent countries from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries.

Essentially, the British still oversee the justice system for entire countries (that used to be formal colonies) in the Caribbean, essentially making Britain the final say in all major court cases in the region.

Financial Times article states:

Formed in 1833, the same year as slavery was outlawed in the West Indies and other colonial outposts – the committee is now the highest court of appeal for a clutch of British overseas territories and independent Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

An even bigger dilemma is that – in what some might see as a tiny morsel of poetic justice for imperial oppression – Britain cannot unilaterally abolish the judicial committee without the consent of the former colonies using it.

The IPS article ends with:

The NATION newspaper [my link] in Barbados said a resolution as to whether or not to abandon the Privy Council lies with the political leadership in the region.

“Can this region be a truly independent community when it allows disputes between its citizens to be settled by a court thousands of miles away from our social reality?” the editorial asked.

“Perhaps the Caribbean Court of Justice will become our final appellate court only when, as the late Robert Nestor Marley sang, we emancipate ourselves from mental slavery! Meanwhile, none but ourselves can free our minds!” read the Sunday editorial.

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