The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) announced Thursday that it would be holding community and town hall meetings to discuss Saint Lucia’s accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal, replacing the Privy Council.
The UWP said public meetings would begin Thursday evening in Gros Islet and continue on Monday in Castries, mindful of controlling numbers because of COVID-19.
Plans for two venues in the South of Saint Lucia are in the process of being finalised.
At a news conference, former government Minister Fortuna Belrose explained the objectives of the planned UWP public meetings regarding the CCJ accession move.
Belrose said the meetings would sensitise people regarding what the CCJ is, its impact on their lives their need to get involved in determining their destiny.
“Saint Lucians must understand that the move away from the Privy Council is a move away from a tier of Judges seen as objective and removed from interference,” Belrose told reporters.
In addition, she said the UWP wanted to create awareness of the significance of the SLP government’s CCJ plan, given labour’s large majority in the House of Assembly.
“When a government has a large majority in the house, we must guard against any tendency to railroad legislation through the house without consultation with the people, especially in cases such as the CCJ,” the former Minister asserted.
She explained that accessing the CCJ would mean a major shift in Saint Lucia’s judicial appeal structure.
However, Belrose asserted that the people of Saint Lucia do not have an opportunity to have a say in ‘this critical matter’.
And she declared that the UWP thought the CCJ issue would be a priority for a government that pledges to put people first.
Belrose also recalled that Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre had spoken about ‘protecting the victory’ and not protecting democracy.
“This is a biased, partisan statement,” she told Thursday’s news conference.
“We want to know what impact would protecting the victory of the labour party have on the CCJ,” Belrose stated.
“And is every Saint Lucian called upon or expected to protect the victory, instead of our democracy?” She asked.
The CARICOM countries that are members of both the Original and appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ are Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Dominica.
The CCJ also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.