ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC) – The National Coordinating Committee (NCC) says there must be greater emphasis on a regional drive to educate Caribbean people about institutions such as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that are fundamental to the socio economic and political development of the regional integration movement.
The NCC, which had been charged with the responsibility of spearheading the public education and sensitisation programme on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) and the CCJ in Antigua and Barbuda, said it wanted to thank all citizens who participated in Tuesday’s referendum that resulted in voters rejecting moves to replace the Privy Council as the island’s highest and final court.
The NCC said it also had the mandate to ensure that at least every eligible voter was sensitised about the Privy Council and the CCJ and that it is “satisfied that eligible voters were given the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether the Privy Council should be retained or the CCJ should be chosen as our final Court of Appeal.
“The people, having given consideration to the information and facts that were disseminated far and wide, took the decision to retain the Privy Council as Antigua and Barbuda’s final Court of Appeal.”
The NCC said that with the final results being 52.04 per cent for the Privy Council and 47.96 per cent for the CCJ, “it is clear that voters were almost equally divided on the issue.
“The required two-thirds majority to remove the Privy Council has proven to be a very high threshold at this time. Therefore, democracy continues to be alive and well in Antigua and Barbuda. The people have spoken and the decision is accepted.”
But the NCC said going forward and given the result in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada where voters in the latter Caribbean island also voted in support of the Privy Council “there must be greater emphasis on a regional drive to educating the people of the Caribbean about the institutions like the CCJ that are fundamental to the socio economic and political development of CARICOM.
“Perhaps as part of their mandate and strategic plan, the institutions should develop and espouse a comprehensive communication public education strategy/programme that connects with the people of the region and not divorce from them,” the NCC said.
It said it requires “deeper reflection on
how we relate to the functionality of these regional institutions and their place within the overall integration process.
“What transpired [on Tuesday] in both jurisdictions must be examined to determine the deeper implications of the results. Perhaps the time has come for a closer look at regional governance issues and amendments to the Treaty. “
The NCC said that in “[the current Caribbean melting pot with the prevalence of mass media in particularly social media, innovative methods could be utilised to enhance our engagement with the peoples of the Community”.