By Everton Barnes
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Steadroy Benjamin, is expressing satisfaction with the results of the recent public opinion poll concerning the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Benjamin told CT that he is pleased with the poll showing that support for the CCJ comes from 65 percent of the electorate, which is quite close to the just over 66 percent required in a national referendum for the measure to take effect.
“The results show that the programme of public education undertaken by the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) is resonating among the population and that people are generally coming to the conclusion that it is in the nation’s interest to complete its independence and that this cannot be achieved with the Privy Council remaining as the nation’s final court of appeal,” Benjamin noted.
Noting that Antigua and Barbuda is in the midst of celebrating the 35th anniversary of political independence, Benjamin said independence cannot be fully realized with the final arm of governance in the country (the judiciary) residing in London.
“I am therefore urging Antiguans and Barbudans to consider the merits and demerits of both the CCJ and the Privy Council and he is confident that they will support the regional institution, the CCJ,” he declared.
The poll conducted in September by Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), which chief pollster is Peter Wickham, showed that support for the CCJ was 45 percent among Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party supporters and 21 percent among United Progressive Party supporters.
The poll also showed that a large percent of the electorate still undecided about the issue.
CADRES said it conducted 800 face to face interviews in all sixteen constituencies on Antigua as part of the poll.
The provision naming the Privy Council as the country’s final court of appeal is among the entrenched sections of the Constitution and cannot only be amended by a two-thirds majority of the members of parliament and then a two-thirds majority of the electorate voting in a referendum called for that purpose.