Parliament Amends Constitution to Utilize CCJ

Roseau, Dominica – The Parliament of Dominica has enacted legislation to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica to facilitate the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the Final Court of Appeal in Dominica. By a vote of 18 for and one abstention, elected members of parliament showed their support for delinking from the United Kingdom’s Privy Council in favour of the CCJ at the Sixth Meeting of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament under the Commonwealth of Dominica Constitution.

The 18 votes in favour of the bill, far surpasses the three quarter majority of elected parliamentarians necessary for such a constitutional amendment. Leader of the Opposition Honourable Hector John abstained from the vote, while former Prime Minister Honourable Edison James and Member of Parliament for the Roseau Central Constituency Honourable Norris Prevost were absent from the parliamentary chamber during the vote. Only elected members of the parliament are allowed to vote on constitutional amendments.

Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit described the passage of the bill as a historic day for Dominica. Prime Minister Skerrit said that Dominicans will have greater and much easier access to justice.

“We must appreciate that that will allow for, in our mind and based on the record so far of cases that have come before the Caribbean Court of Justice that it will allow for more of our citizens to gain access to all the levels of the judiciary system in the region. So we are very pleased that the Parliament has been able to pass this; we look forward to our citizens taking advantage of it so that they can feel that the full process of the justice system they would have been able to go through that,” Prime Minister Skerrit stated.

Prime Minister Skerrit described as unfortunate the abstention and absence of members of the opposition.

“I mean, one cannot give any good reason why any Member of Parliament in these times would abstain from voting on this very important matter. I mean what is the basis for abstaining, what are the arguments you are putting forward? It means, therefore, that you do not think that Dominica and the Caribbean is ready for its own court when in the 1940s and before that people were saying in the

Caribbean that we should have our own court. It is really unfortunate but that is the way the Opposition behaves so this does not surprise us…” Prime Minister Skerrit stated.

The bill is to be sent to His Excellency the President Charles A Savarin for his assent. It will then be gazetted with a date for it full recognition and implementation.

Ref: GOVPR143/ 2014-07-02

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