Antigua and Barbuda paving way for accession to CCJ
Prime Minister the Honourable Gaston Browne and Leader of the Opposition United Progressive Party the Hon. Baldwin Spencer, in the presence of Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda Sir Rodney Williams have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Constitutional Reform paving the way for the country’s accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice in its Appellate Jurisdiction.
Currently the Privy Council in the United Kingdom is the final court of appeal for Antigua and Barbuda. Moving from the Privy Council as the final appellate court requires a change in the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution via a referendum.
The MOU, which was witnessed by Attorney-General the Hon. Steadroy Benjamin and also signed by Political Leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, was done also in the presence of President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Right Honourable Sir C. M. Dennis Byron. It calls for a bipartisan approach during consultations leading up to the referendum.
Recently the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda adopted the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its appellate jurisdiction and appointed the country’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community CARICOM, Dr. Clarence Henry, to spearhead the national engagement and consultation to fully explain the rationale for the adoption of the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction leading to the conduct of a referendum.
Ambassador Clarence Henry will head the National Committee of stakeholders which will include representatives from the Trade Union Congress, political parties, the chamber of commerce, the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association, the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, the Barbuda Council, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, civil society, media association and the Antigua Broadcasting Service and Youth.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Constitutional Reform signed on July 29 at Government House reads as follows:
RECOGNIZING the need to consider the reform of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda:
RECALLING the matter of Constitutional reform has been the subject of reports by past commissions:
CONSCIOUS of the necessity for the people of Antigua and Barbuda to be involved in discussions on Constitutional reform since their approval is needed for the alteration of several provisions of the Constitution:
OBSERVING that the process of Constitutional reform should be conducted by the Government, the Opposition and Civil Society:
REPRESENTATIVES of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Opposition of Antigua and Barbuda meeting at the Governor General’s house execute this memorandum of understanding:
To declare that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Government and the United Progressive Party Opposition should in a bipartisan way engage the people of Antigua and Barbuda in consultations on the matter of the reform of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda in certain areas such as the matter of accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction and any other non-contentious Constitutional changes that may be proposed; and
To commit themselves to better particularise such areas in the shortest possible time.
DONE at the Governor General’s house in the city of St. John in the State of Antigua and Barbuda.
This 29th day of July 2015
Hon. Gaston Browne – Prime Minister
Hon. Baldwin Spencer – Leader of the Opposition
Harold Lovell – Political Leader UPP
Witnessed by Hon. Steadroy Benjamin – Attorney General (Government of Antigua and Barbuda Press Release)