Jacqui Quinn Says No to CCJ
Jacqui Quinn Says No to CCJ

I am a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. I was the very first Antiguan Valedictorian at Mona when I graduated with First Class honours in 1993. I was one of the early students who did CXC when it was first introduced (half of my subjects were CXC and half GCE). I was the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in Antigua and Barbuda in 2004; and the first woman to serve as Acting Prime Minister. I was the first woman to be inducted into the Rotary Club when that organization broke from being a “Boys Club”. I am proud of the sterling work of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, ECCB in keeping our EC dollar stable. I applaud the work of the Regional Security System, RSS. I understand and appreciate the work of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, ECCA. I understand and appreciate Caricom, talk shop notwithstanding, and as dismal as its performance has been over the years. The OECS has done yeoman’s service as an organization aimed at strengthening regional links in this part of the region and I commend them. West Indies cricket, though floundering now, is a cultural construct I appreciate, love and admire; and I believe we can and will return to the glory days.
However, in-spite of all this, as a fierce regionalist and patriot, I declare today I will be voting NO to the CCJ. I am positing 10 top reasons (I actually have about twenty) why I do not think we are ready for the CCJ:
1. Our politicians are too wrapped up with the judges and the process of selection of the President of the CCJ. Prime Ministers of the member states approve or disapprove the person selected to serve as President of the CCJ. The CCJ Agreement also states that only these very political leaders can discipline the President. I am not comfortable with this.
2. Funding of the court is a problem. Just as the lower courts are underfunded so too eventually the CCJ will have to come to governments cap in hand seeking funding. The grand Trust Fund which was initially set up will NOT fund the courts “into perpetuity”. (Dr. Linton Lewis admitted this)The Court will be beholden fiscally to the politicians and governments.
3.I have witnessed first hand how the political directorate has used the police and judicial system for political persecution of opponents and political one-upmanship. Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira cautioned about this very corruption of the judicial process. A sure predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.
4. Judges have too close an affinity to the political directorate. Judge Byron was President of the CCJ while his brother was Attorney General of St. Kitts & Nevis. Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow’s brother, Denys Arthur Barrow was last year appointed as a judge of the CCJ. The current President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders is a former politician who ran for elections in his native St. Vincent & the Grenadines alongside his buddy, PM Ralph Gonsalves. Judges and the political directorate attend the same social circles, universities, churches, golf and tennis clubs, parties, bars and rum shops.
5. The Privy Council judges have distance. They are judging cases based on the law. They do not know our people; have no familial, friendship or political ties to litigants. Justice is supposed to be blind.
6. The Lower Courts must first be fixed. You don’t fix the roof of your house before fixing the foundation and walls. Our lower courts are crying out for help/fixing before we attend to the apex court. That should be our priority. Most people will have to deal with these very lower courts, not the CCJ or Privy Council.
7. We have been getting great justice from the Privy Council over the years. If it’s not broke, why fix it? (Land mark cases such as Daily Observer, Elloy Defreitas, etc. tell a lasting tale).
8. The proponents of the CCJ tell us that this move to the CCJ will “complete the circle of independence”. This is a baldfaced lie, which has been repeated like an insipid recitation by pseudo-intellectuals who attempt to pull at our emotive selves. What they refuse to address is the fact that we still “swear allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors”; that the Queen’s face still adorns our money. A move to being a Republic with our own President and having our national and regional heroes such as Father of the Nation, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird et al on our money would be more prudent to complete the circle of independence.
9. I find it rather curious that Trinidad, where the Court is based, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and so many other states who have signed on to the original jurisdiction have not moved to make the CCJ its final apex Court(a mere 4 countries have signed on!) In fact, Prime Minister Allan Chastanet is quoted as saying “the CCJ is not a priority for St. Lucia at this time.” Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of St. Kitts also said last month that the CCJ “is not a priority consideration at this time for the Team Unity administration.” Why is it a priority for Antigua and Barbuda? Things that make you go “Hmmmmm!”
10. Finally, All the people who share my view have been accused of being “in mental slavery” “having no pride in who and what they are” “foolish”; “colonialists”; “silly”; “backward”; “dunce”; “selfish” “unpatriotic” “having self-hatred”; “ignorant”; “house nigger”; “loser” and a host of belittling, insulting, and dismissive terms. I am none of those things. I take no offense to their insults. I pity them. I hold my head high with pride and confidence as a strong loyal Caribbean woman. I am very well armed with knowledge of the issues and I will be voting my conscience on November 6th. My conscience says “NO!” I will live with my conscience after November 6th.
I am Dr. Jacqui C. Quinn

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