Although I had some serious issues with our CARICOM countries going ahead with the Caribbean Court of Justice, I do support the idea of the need for us in the region to have our own final court. However, a recent CCJ ruling in respect of Barbados is further strengthening the doubts people like me have about our readiness for this court.
Almost two years ago, the CCJ ruled in favour of Jamaica’s Shanique Myrie in a case she brought against the government of Barbados. Two years later the government of Barbados is yet to pay a cent. Whatever the true reason for the delay in the court-ordered payment, the government of Barbados is reported to have said it is not in the habit of chasing lawyers to pay them. By extension, it can also be interpreted that it is not in the habit of being in any hurry to abide by court rulings.
Now we are always being told that we need to grow up and have our own court. But to what avail if the very governments that established it effectively refuse to abide by its rulings?
Unlike Jamaica, Barbados uses this CCJ as its final court. I remember sometime ago hearing a Barbadian politician complaining that he has a serious problem with judges from Jamaica and other CARICOM countries that don’t use the CCJ as their final court having anything to do with judgments involving Barbadians. I wonder if this sentiment has anything to do with Barbados refusing to be in a hurry to abide by the CCJ’s ruling?
Many of this court’s supporters constantly remind us that as its funding is independent of any government control, there is no need to worry about its judges coming under the influence of its member governments when rulings are to be made. Well, that may very well be true. However, as Barbados is now showing us, seeing that they can’t influence its judgments, CARICOM governments clearly can always ignore them.
I suppose one shouldn’t be too surprised at the obvious spinelessness of the CCJ. After all, it is a product of CARICOM which, as far as I can see, is the region’s biggest talk shop. Nonetheless, what a pity if the CCJ has also turned out to be just another talk-shop.