Local attorney, Dr. David Dorsett, has fully endorsed Antigua and Barbuda move to delink from the Privy Council and accede to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Speaking at a panel discussion on the CCJ at the Bolans Pentecostal Church Monday night, Dorsett said he supports the CCJ ‘because its mine!’. Dorsett said the Privy Council is a ‘fantastic court’ with a rich history after many years of dispensing justice in many jurisdictions. He added that the Privy Council is a well-respected institution and a beacon for justice for many.
However, Dr. Dorsett feels that acceding to the CCJ is important as it means that the people of the region are supporting something of their own. “Adopting the CCJ is an opportunity for us to embrace and enjoy something that is ours,” he declared. He likened support for the CCJ as similar to supporting the Wes Indies Cricket Team. “I don’t support the West Indies Team because they just won the T-20 World Cup. I support the West Indies Team because its mine!” he stated.
In the CCJ, Dorsett said the people of the Caribbean have a Court that is ‘uniquely and distinctly ours’. “We have something that we have direct connection with; an institution created by us, to work for us. We have the opportunity to say to ourselves: we can be confident and be assured that we have the legal minds and men and women of integrity who can do a good job” he added.
Dr. Dorsett said the people of the Caribbean can be assured that any judgment from the Court is the product of high quality thinking and input. He noted that as a case moves up the different levels of the judicial system, the reasoning gets better at the higher level. He indicated that based on the judgments, it is clear that the decisions are based on principles rather than on personality.
Also speaking at the panel discussion was attorney Sherfield Bowen, who argued that the most critical aspect for supporting the CCJ was that it makes access to justice easier especially for the poor.
He noted that many years ago education was beyond the reach of many people, but as education, especially tertiary education became more accessible and more home-grown, more and more people are taking advantage of this opportunity for higher learning. He said the CCJ will have a similar impact on access to justice.
For attorney Ralph Francis, he believes that many who do not support the move towards adopting the CCJ is a reflection of the way they feel about themselves. “There are some who feel that anything local or Caribbean was not as good as that which comes from abroad,” he explained.
Francis said he has always been a supporter of the CCJ as he feels that Caribbean people are capable of dispensing justice as good as any Court in any other part of the world.
The panel discussion was the first in a series of public engagements organized by the Antigua and Barbuda Evangelical Alliance in associated with the National Coordinating Committee (NCC).