Will the “Island of Heroes” Deliver an “Heroic” vote for the CCJ on 6 th November?

Submitted by DAVID A. COMISSIONG, Attorney-at-Law and Son of the Caribbean Community

A national Referendum on the issue of whether a Caribbean nation should disengage from the British Privy Council and accede to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the nation’s highest appellate Court is more than just a vote about a court of law!  Rather, it is a vote that presents the national population with an opportunity to assert their inherent human right to self-determination and personal dignity, and to make a major advance in their historical journey towards the interlinked goals of full national sovereignty and Caribbean civilizational independence.

 It is with this understanding in mind that I therefore look forward with great anticipation to see how the people of Grenada – the citizens of my late father’s native land – will vote in the 6 November 2018 Referendum on the CCJ.

 Grenada, for me, has always been an “island of heroes”!  Aside from the fact that my late Grenadian father – Rev. Vivian Comissiong – is one of my own personal heroes, I am of the view that, for its size, Grenada has produced more heroic historical figures than perhaps any other nation in the world – heroes that have valiantly resisted European imposed enslavement and colonial domination as they sought to bring their people into a promised land of full autonomy and self-determination.

 It is this struggle/journey that the Grenadian people should have at the back of their minds when they make their way to the various polling stations on 6 November.

 Spare a thought for the original owners of the island of Grenada – the Carib or Kalinago people – who were so determined to resist the European colonisers and to maintain their autonomous nationhood that in 1651 (at Sauteurs in the north of the island) they chose death rather than to live in a state of European imposed servitude and national dishonour.

 Recall that as early as 1765 our enslaved African ancestors – faced with the onslaught of an influx of rapacious British slave plantation owners who had descended upon Grenada – revolted against the British plantocratic regime and tried their best to escape the jurisdiction of the British slave plantation by setting up their own maroon communities.

 Reflect on the tremendous example of the so-called “free-coloured” revolutionary leader, Julien Fedon, and his lieutenants – Stanislaus Besson, Etienne Ventour and Joachin Phillip – who, in the 1790’s fought the British colonisers to a standstill and almost succeeded in destroying the British colonial and slavery regime.

 And then contemplate the fact that from the very beginning of the 20th century a succession of heroic Grenadians have been in the vanguard of the Caribbean struggle to extricate our region from the tentacles of British colonisation and to establish not only an independent Grenadian nation, but also an autonomous, integrated Caribbean Civilization.

 This latter period of Grenadian nationalist struggle encompasses the turn-of-the century activism of the great black patriotic newspaper editor William Galway Donovan; the decades long Pan-Caribbean political, journalistic, and industrial activism and institution building of Theophilus A. Marryshow; Eric Gairy’s 1950’s radical, grassroots mobilization of the Grenadian peasantry and working class against the British colonial authorities and the social elite of Grenada; and – of course – the mighty “Grenada Revolution” of 1979 to 1983 and the efforts of Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Jacqueline Creft and others to demonstrate that Grenada would never be content to remain in anybody’s colonialist backyard.

 The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that the Grenadian people will be voting for (or against) on 6 November 2018 is our very own Grenadian and Caribbean institution and is part of a structure of freedom and nationhood that we Caribbean people started to build for ourselves way back during the early struggles of our indigenous and African ancestors.

 The CCJ is the outgrowth of a centuries long process, but its more contemporary roots are to be found in our 1965 establishment of a Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA); our 1973 transformation of CARIFTA into the more developed Caribbean Community (CARICOM); our 1981 establishment of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); and the goals that we set for ourselves in 1989 with our Grand Anse Declaration and its aspirations towards a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

 As we set about building for ourselves a regional nation or civilization it became clear that a natural and necessary component of that process must be that we take ownership of our entire national judicial system, inclusive of our highest national Court of Appeal.

 And so, in 2001, Grenada joined together with nine other CARICOM nations – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago – to sign the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as both an “international court” vested with jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation and application of our Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and as the highest “municipal or national” Court of Appeal for our CARICOM region.

Grenada also acted with great vision and a sense of responsibility by contributing its portion of the US$100 Million trust fund that our CARICOM states established to finance our CCJ on a permanent and secure basis, and by playing a role in establishing our independent and well-structured Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission to oversee the running of our CCJ.

But in spite of the highly commendable role that Grenada played in constructing and investing in the CCJ, Grenada has– up to today– only ever utilized the CCJ in its original “international court” jurisdiction, but never in its “municipal or national” jurisdiction as Grenada’s highest Court of Appeal. That honour and critical function has –up to today– been reserved for the foreign-based British Privy Council ! 

The CCJ was inaugurated on 16 August 2005 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and has therefore been in operation for some thirteen and a half years now.  And during that extensive period of time it has served all of our CARICOM nations as our  “international court” vested with jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation and application of our Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and as the highest municipal or national Court of Appeal — but only for the nations of Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica.

 Needless-to-say, over the thirteen and a half years of its existence our CCJ has performed excellently well in its role as a final Court of Appeal, and, along with the University of the West Indies, has proven to be an institution of our Caribbean Community of which we can be justly proud – an institution of our Caribbean Civilization that does justice to our fore-parents’ historic struggle for dignity, self respect, autonomy and nationhood.

Why then should Grenada or any other Caribbean country for that matter have any reservations about extricating itself from the inherently “colonialist” situation of having a foreign, European court that is located thousands of miles away from the Caribbean as its highest supposedly “national” Court of Appeal ?

 If we reject the CCJ – one of our greatest indigenous Caribbean constructions – we are in danger of rejecting both ourselves and our ancestors and their heroic struggles.


148 thoughts on “Will the “Island of Heroes” Deliver an “Heroic” vote for the CCJ on 6 th November?

  1. Whatever…you think I care about spellings, everyone knows what it is..

    Ok…since ya don’t mind…yall minority thieves and bottom feeders were busy with the help of the same dummies in parliament…fleecing the majority population their tax dollars and pension money…..for DECADES..

    both useless governments indulged yall over the years…..that was the only way to collect kickbacks and bribes for them and the only way yall could survive on the island without starving to death or running to the real world to find real jobs…something like how you did…..so yall felt no need to change anything because THIEFING from the majority population is yall game…the only one ya know…and it made too many of you wealthy off the backs of the majority population.

    Yall are parasites and bottom feeders. ..but that show is about to come to an end..at last..

    Feel free to correct any spelling errors I made.

  2. I have noticed a few misspellings and i am relenting only because you have asked to be corrected . One glaring error that stood out recently was you spelled it MARRIED when referring to your man, when the correct spelling should be GOTATPOUND lol

  3. Antigua also voted against joining the CCJ. It is interesting that in those countries where the people were directly consulted i.e Antigua, Grenada and St.Vincent the people voted against joining the CCJ. Grenada voted TWICE and rejected the CCJ each time.

    I wonder what would happen if there was a vote on independence or colonial status.

    • It seems the people and government are out of step on the issue of joining the CCJ. What does it mean as far as people development in the region is concerned?

  4. That great purveyor of Bajan progressive thought, Freundel Stuart, promised to remove Barbados from the CCJ because in his opinion, the CCJ judges were not like the nice polite white judges of the Privy Council. Stuart is one of the more outstanding graduates of that beacon on a hill, UWI.

  5. I am told the Stuart is to receive the knighthood in the upcoming Independence honours and Donville Inniss is to get the Gold Crown of Merit. Both awards are for meritorious public service in advancing the well being of Barbadians.

  6. The decision by the Grenadians – and before that the Antiguans reflects you key po0ints. First, it reflects the failure of Caricom, since membership of CARICOM should be conditional on accepting the CCJ as the final court of appeal, and more important, the constitutional court for the union.
    The court was a hurried creation since many of the Caricom states, including two of the big beasts, declined to join. The challenge then was to convince them of the legitimacy of the court,, rather than a fight against the Privy Council. In any case, the Privy Council was urging these former colonies to make alternative arrangements.
    We also made a serious mistake when we located the CCJ in a CARICOM member-state that does not recognise the court. Trinidad should be given an ultimatum: join the CCJ by X date or the court will be moved. Why should Barbadian taxpayers pay to fund jobs in Trinidad when they themselves refuse to join the club?
    Second, and central to the contemporary narrative about Caribbean political development, is a continuing psychological battle against the former colonial masters; it is looking back. Most Caricom countries, such as Barbados, have populations that were born after independence; so to focus on an imagined enemy, a continuing battle with colonialism, is a waste of energy.
    Our collective battle is now against our own ambitions and abilities. The big question is one that other colonies are asking: has the post-war independence experiment failed? Or, has it simply been misdirected through a failed vision and flawed roadmap?
    Because we have no structured national debates we end up with badly thought out decision-making.

  7. Answer: The post war independence experiment after a reasonably promising start has failed. The rate of failure seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of control over the affairs of the Caribbean countries being assumed by the local nouveau elites.

  8. It is noteworthy that we are more interested in the USA mid term election results than in the Grenada and Antigua CCJ plebiscites.

  9. By the way congrats to Justice Andrew Burgess of Barbados who is joining the bench of the CCJ. How long will it take the Gov’t of Barbados to fill the now two vacancies on the Barbados Appeal Court?

  10. @Ping Pong,

    You are right about the US mid-term elections. The real failure has been the absence of any real discussion about independence and the meaning of independence. This is a debate that should have been led by the so-called political scientists at the UWI. Only recently one leading lecturer, a woman, made a bold claim that we should abandon the Westminster model. She did not substantiate her claim, nor did she define what she meant by the Westminster model.
    The CARICOM project also needs reconfiguring. I am interested in the financial sector and am amazed at the absence of any post-2008 policies to deal with the problems thrown up by the global banking crisis – and even of Clico.
    Why do we not have cross-border financial regulation? A CARICOM central bank? A real time stock exchange? A CARICOM-wide detective force, with national uniformed police maintaining the powers of arrest? I can go on, but you get the drift.
    Part of the problem is what I call cultural: making assumptions or reaching conclusions where there is no evidence, such as independence good, colonialism bad. This may be so, but why? It is the why that is the problem.

  11. @Hal Austin
    I am in complete agreement with the sentiments and proposals suggested in your posts made this morning. I believe however that no such implementation of CARICOM wide institutions will be done precisely because that would be a dilution of the authority/power of the political tin gods over each of their individual animal farms.

  12. @Ping Pong,
    You are very perceptive. Politicians in small island-states have no real power or influence in regional or global organisations. Some top NGOs have more influence and access to power.
    So, they have to extract power from the way they rule their citizens – jobs, decision-making, etc. It is the reason why they do not want SOEs and other bodies to be independent, the minister won’t have any real power. Think of Sinckler and DeLisle Worrell.
    But there is an irony: a CARICOM central bank would remove monetary power from local politicians; but they then fix their currencies to the Greenback, allowing monetary policy to be decided in Washington DC. Funny that.

  13. @ Ping Pong
    It is noteworthy that we are more interested in the USA mid term election results than in the Grenada and Antigua CCJ plebiscites.
    “Noteworthy” shiite!! … stop being modest do!!
    You have just identified the EXACT ROOT reason why those islanders voted against the CCJ.

    We are not dealing with REAL people…
    but with ‘low-self-esteem’, seventh-class, brass bowl, remnants of what was once a great people.
    We have sunk so low that we now LIVE to mimic the flawed albino-centric culture of those whose very genesis is one of greed, selfish interests and spite.

    When you would think that we had reached the nadir of our self-value, we ALWAYS manage to dig a bit deeper into the mire and uncover some more shiite …with which we get to cover ourselves and embarrass our children.

    If Barbados held a referendum we too would probably still be with the Privy Council….

    …and if you did a referendum here on BU RIGHT NOW…most would vote to continue arguing about the shiite USA elections – rather than to focus on the imminent sinking of HMBS Titanic..

    Take away a fella’s self esteem …and it would have been kinder to kill him…..

    • It is embarrassing Caricom islands feel to hold referendums with the question if to join the CCJ. The white people in England have already communicated to find an alternative. The further irony is that all Caricom countries have funded the CCJ. The argument from those resisting signup is that the CCJ serves as the final court in the original jurisdiction.

      What a waste of education spend in the post colonial period.

  14. It comes as No surprise that these two former ‘sugar and banana’ colonies of Britain have taken Fumble Stuart’s political advice to heart and voted to reject the CCJ as their final Court of Appeal and continue to be tied to the judicial apron strings of their estranged mother country.

    It would even be more interesting to see if they will also persist in continuing with the British monarchy as their individual country’s Head of State when the current holder Queen Lizzy inevitably leaves throne in the coming months.

    The heroes of the Windrush generation have died for nothing, “We” suppose!

    • The truth is that the average Joe Citizen is blissfully unaware of the import attached to this kind of a decision. What kind of citizen are we if we lack the confidence to manage our affairs in 2018.

  15. I am not more interested in the U.S. Midterm elections. I recently watched a discussion on the upcoming referenda in Grenada and Antigua and have read many articles on the topic of the CCJ.

    i think, though, that the major reason why people prefer the Privy Council is not because they doubt the ability of the judges of the CCJ but the impartially. They see the Privy Council as being disinterested simply because it has no connection to them.

    How many cases actually go to the Privy Council, though? Most people cannot afford to take it that far. I understand that those on death row are paid for but who else actually uses the Privy Council?

  16. What kind of citizen are we if we lack the confidence to manage our affairs in 2018.
    But the fact that we KNOW that we are unable to manage (and voting to remain serfs…)
    ..is better than NOT knowing that we do not know….

    It don’t matter anyway….

  17. The truth is that the average Joe Citizen is blissfully unaware of the import attached to this kind of a decision. What kind of citizen are we if we lack the confidence to manage our affairs in 2018.(Quote)

    This statement is not clear. By managing ‘our’ own affair, do we mean ‘our’, as Barbadians, or ‘our’, as Caribbean people, or ‘our’, as black people?
    The point is that the CCJ is a regional body, which speaks to our notion of independence, if by that we mean Barbadian independence.

  18. “Let me tell you something you don’t know. White women are so fascinated by black men. They love to do the oral to Black men because they think that when they drink our Sperm, they getting Nourishment, like how you drink milk from the cow.”

  19. It’s so disappointing to hear Grenadians and Antiguans have rejected the CCJ as their final court.Without prejudice to those who voted to remain with the UK based Privy Council,I say to you you are a bunch of cowards,stupid and ignorant azz souls begging this outmoded imperial court to determine how you should socialize with your fellow black brothers and sisters.Wunna bunch ‘o counts!

  20. Congratulations are due to the Grenadians and Antiguans for their out and out rejection of the old boy network of the CCJ as their final court of appeal over the Impartial Privy Council that is administered by men of principles and integrity and not by back room decisions and friendships

    Well done men and women with balls UNLIKE BARBADOS’ BRASS BOWLS

  21. Cowards,imbeciles,uneducated,pliant,,inelegant,passive,careless,unconcerned,cavalier,narrow minded,bigoted,psychotic, demeaning,distasteful,criminal,blind,narrow minded,destructive,discordant,unruly and just plain stupid field wiggahs,wunna can take the next Windrush with Eric Gairy and George Walter and go swear allegiance again to the Windsors in wunna mudda country.All yuh clearly set out to prove that independent thinking or freedom to choose the right and proper thing to do,something called pride, which is equal to thinking for wunna self and making up wunna own minds and the idea of celebrating wunna independence from Great Britain are mutually exclusive.

  22. @Miller
    The heroes of the Windrush generation have died for nothing, “We” suppose!

    You deserve a star for that

    I gotta pay more attention to your writing, that is an iconic line bastatardized from “Sam Stone” which was made popular in Swamp Dogg’s rendition about a Vietnam veteran who returned home as a drug addict “there’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes Jesus Christ died for nothing I suppose”

    Didn’t know you were into 60’s/70’s music

  23. Look wunna alright to take bout rally round the west indies as opposed to running to the mogher country and privy council but pause for a moment and think this through

    CARICOM – Talkshop of impotent Caribbean denizens for years at the expense of regional integration

    WICB – Boys Network and coven for nepotism at the expense of cricket

    LIAT – NDTWORK of inept regional governments which have operated a regional gravel network at the expense of efficient travel

    And now wunna chanting bout joining the CCJ?

    Wunna csnt really be serious? What sensimalia wunna smoking?

  24. So Guyana private sector just invite Kamla to be their featured speaker at an awards function and Kamla is going to speak on Oil and Gas,the Trinidad experience.Basdeo Panday is the only person who said that Kamla is a boozer and the Trinidad press used to say that when Kamla was PM she didn’t work regular.But Kamla will prove them all wrong because the Indo Guyanese and the Indo Trinidadian are one and the same and their message is to spread lies,innuendo and graft so since Petrotrin is on its last breath Kamla looking for a safe haven for her coterie of the Hindu chat 3 people to relocate to Guyana to upstage Granger in 2020.

  25. Donna,

    That perforce, because of where they are, defines their reality.

    You CANNOT ACCEPT THEIR REALITY, these are the aspirations of lesser men and women ELSE YOU WILL DROWN!!!

    It is really simple.

    For half a century you become who you are, in spite of all that is around you, and “the rest of the world” and TV and the internet.

    North, irrespective of the artificial manipulations of the magnetic field IS STILL NORTH.

    Do you understand that simple truth?

    So because Orange is the New Black shows two women locked in a kiss, you going and rub pudendas with Mugabe?

    We too old to change what we know to be true, it is like the unerring sense of direction of the salmon, they do what they do, but as for me and you, and our household we shall serve the One True Lord and Law…

  26. “We have a CCJ which has made itself into a legislating court and it is starting to legislate for Barbados and I am worried about that,” Franklyn said(Caswell Franklyn, as quoted).

    This is a very important issue that goes right to the heart of our constitution. Don’t people think this is worthy of further debate?

  27. @ Hal Austin


    What is the context of the statement where can someone find the rest of his commentary

  28. Offenses Against the Persons Act. Debate in Senate yesterday. Should be on the Nations Broadcast Website.

    @ Piece of the Rock

  29. @ Mr. Vincent Codrington

    I wondered if there was a concatenation in your post.

    Let me be clear about this

    If I came to your house and took any object from your place of habitation what would you do kind sir?

    Send the police for me or employ the recourse guaranteed to you by the constitution of this fair land right?

    What if neither of those options were available to you sir, what would you do?

    And what if I came to your place 5 times ?

    Ooops de ole man forgets the fact that I call constantly on the Name of the Almighty so I am to forgive you 70 times 7.

    You confuse de ole man with Jesus the Christ and you need go know that if you take what is mine, I shall take everything that is yours until you make equitable restitution

    Bless you.

  30. “We have a CCJ which has made itself into a legislating court and it is starting to legislate for Barbados and I am worried about that,” Franklyn said(Caswell Franklyn, as quoted).

    Is this an issue worthy of discussion?

  31. “We have a CCJ which has made itself into a legislating court and it is starting to legislate for Barbados and I am worried about that,” Franklyn said(Caswell Franklyn, as quoted).

    Is this topic worthy of a serious discussion? Where are the voices of nationalism? Let me say, before I am misquoted, this call for a debate does not mean I agree or disagree with the statement.

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