OECS heads discuss CCJ, free movement

Newly-elected chairman of the OECS authority, St Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, has called on OECS heads of government to urgently push strategic and legislative requirements to further advance the free movement of OECS nationals through the sub-region.
Dr Anthony, who was speaking at the post-meeting press briefing of the just concluded 54th meeting of the OECS Heads of Authority at Bay Gardens, said the heads endorsed the need for an OECS common tourism policy in the OECS economic union.
The chairman explained the heads recognition of the need to deepen the relationship of the governments, the private sector, as well as other social groups throughout the community, “especially in this period of constructing an economic union.”
Dr Anthony announced the endorsement of establishing within the OECS of a regional consultative process involving both the public sector and private sector to help drive recovery and growth for the region over the next five years.
He added that, “the heads considered a proposal for the operationalization of the OECS Regional Parliamentary Assembly and mandated that further work be done immediately with a view to inauguration of the assembly by June 18th 2012.”
This assembly, Dr Anthony says will bring together political representatives of governing parties as well as opposition parties into a forum that will allow discussion on the treaty as well as other initiatives taking place within the OECS.
According to the chairman, the heads took the opportunity to consider the issue of relations with Cuba and expressed firm support for the sentiments stated in the declaration of Port-of-Spain on the occasion of the 4th Summit of the Heads of State in Government of the Caribbean community and Cuba.
Before ending his briefing, Dr Anthony explained that there were two matters of historical importance and he needed to deal with them separately, “the first concerned a request from initially the authorities in Martinique and Guadeloupe to seek either associate or observer status of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.”
He added, “the heads examined the treaty and noted that under the provisions of the revised treaty, there was no arrangement that would have allowed observer status.”
However, Dr Anthony indicated the heads of the OECS warmly received the statements of interest by Guadeloupe and Martinique and noted that the initiative by Guadeloupe and Martinique was supported by the foreign minister of France.
He indicated the intention of the heads to establish a special team to evaluate the application of Martinique and Guadeloupe and after review by that team; the heads will consider entering into direct negotiations “so that a formal decision could be made at the next authority meeting to be held in St Vincent sometime in May of this year.”
Dr Anthony said the leaders are looking at all benefits that would be rendered should these two states become part of the OECS making note of the strong ties these two countries have with France and the European Union. He further stated that St Lucia had developed strong ties with Martinique over the years and so too has Dominica and Guadeloupe but this is not the case with the rest of the OECS therefore, according to Dr Anthony, this would create the opportunity for the rest of the OECS countries to develop deep relations with the French territories.
“The next matter of equal importance concerns the issue of accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The heads of government could discuss the Caribbean Court of Justice and the issue of appeals to the judicial committee of the privy council,” Dr Anthony said while adding, “the heads noted the important dissimilarities in the relevant constitutional provisions of each OECS country and in light of these differences, it was accepted that the possibility of all OECS states simultaneously acceding to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ is not now the preferred option.”
It was further agreed by the heads that, “all member countries of the OECS committed to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice within the shortest possible time and to this end in each member country, public discussion on this issue will be facilitated and intensified.”
Dr Anthony also stated that only two states, St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, are best placed constitutionally to take steps to accede to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction during the course of this year.         Also, referring to St Lucia, Dr Anthony indicated that St Lucia, in keeping with its domestic law, will “seek from the OECS Court of Appeal an advisory opinion on aspects of the constitution which impacts of the country’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice and for the British overseas territories, they shall engage with Her Majesty’s government on this issue.”

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