The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has said it is supporting Dominica’s move from the London-based Privy Council to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court, however it is calling for more public involvement and participation in the matter.
Leader of the Opposition, Hector John, told DNO on Wednesday morning that the public needs to be involved on matters that affect them.
“We want the involvement of the community in it, we want people to know what’s going on, to be sensitized,” he said.
On Wednesday the parliament of Dominica introduced a bill to amend the constitution in order to facilitate the de-linking from the Privy Council.
John said the country should move collectively to the CCJ along with other members of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
“We don’t want to rush but what we want is that the people of Dominica are very much aware of what we are doing in terms of the CCJ and our final appellate court,” he said. “We support the CCJ but we need it to be done properly and we want to ensure that we move in the right direction as a country, not rushing it.”
He suggested a referendum so the people of Dominica could decide on the move.
“We need them to know the decisions that we are taking are for them, on their behalf, and not just when somebody decide that they wake up next day and decide that they are breaking ranks with the Privy Council and move to the CCJ and not inform the populace,” John argued. “That is very important for us as a party; to ensure that we inform our people and every decision we take in their interest every step of the way.”
Recently UWP hopeful for Grand Fond, Thomson Fontaine, openly objected to the move saying the UWP doesn’t believe Dominica is ready for it.
“We don’t believe it should have been done. There are still a lot of questions about the judiciary and the ability of our own people to preside over themselves,” he was quoted as saying.
But minister for tourism and legal affairs, Ian Douglas, described the statement as “immature and downright colonialistic.”
In January Dominica received approval to leave the UK’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal.