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OUR CARIBBEAN: Supporting the CCJ’s ‘brand’ on free movement

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Supporting the CCJ’s ‘brand’ on free movement

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His ceremonial inauguration last month as the new Head of State of Dominica may have lacked the glamour normally associated with such a state occasion.
But President Charles Savarin, a former cabinet minister of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Labour Party administration, was clearly not distracted by the opposition United Workers Party’s (UWP) boycott plus the surprising absence of a quartet of government MPs.
In athletics terms he seemed to have opted to hit the “road running”. Just about a month after taking the oath as President, he chose to focus on issues of national and regional concerns in his first Independence Day message to Dominicans this past weekend.
A former trade unionist, President Savarin has placed emphasis on the right to intra-regional freedom of movement for citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a right he feels Dominica must actively promote.
Speaking against the backdrop of the historic October 4 ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the case involving Barbados and the Jamaican national, Shanique Myrie, the president urged Dominica to give “meaning and relevance” to the regional integration movement.
This, as he sees it, would require “embracing, in practical terms, intra-regional freedom of movement and the right of establishment provisions located in both the CARICOM treaty and the treaty of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
President Savarin would be well aware of how some CARICOM governments have been routinely making a mockery of the fundamental right to freedom of intra-regional movement, as provided for in the revised CARICOM treaty, prior to the landmark CCJ judgement in the Barbados-Shanique Myrie case. It is now a fundamental point of reference for citizens of all member states of our Community.
Therefore, whether or not a CARICOM partner state has accessed membership of the CCJ as its final appellate court or still retains the old colonial link with the Privy Council in London, the CCJ’s judgement pertaining to freedom of intra-regional travel must prevail. It is now the rule-based “brand” on freedom of intra-regional movement.
This would be consistent with the signing by member states of the revised CARICOM treaty governing the establishment and functioning of the Port-of-Spain-based regional court, that they have empowered with original jurisdiction on settlement of trade and other disputes.
The reality is that on the fundamental issue of freedom for intra-regional movement, not just the current trio of CARICOM states that have accessed CCJ’s membership – Barbados, Guyana and Belize – must honour this obligation. So too must those yet to scuttle relations with the Privy Council.
Sadly, numbered among them are the first two CARICOM states to gain political independence from Britain – Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.