6 Sept 2010

Censored again?

In response to this letter at the Express website I posted the following:

IT is with great amazement, sometimes profound amusement, that I try to follow the reasoning of those wishing to retain the anachronism called the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as this country's final court of appeal.

One current that you have flowing through their argument is this country is somehow joined at the hip to the London-based court and we two are inseparable.

In their eyes, no future exists without the "distinguished judges'' of the British court and the fledgling Caribbean Court of Justice could never hope to supplant the esteemed Law Lords.

But like it or not, change will have to come.

The Privy Council is a court that exists at the pleasure of the British parliament. It is not financed by the Caribbean even though it is entrenched in the constitutions of various Caribbean countries which still retain its services. By a simple act of Parliament, the British can abolish the court and turn regional constitutions upside-down.

The day when it goes, and go it shall, what will be the situation of those who wish to hang on to colonial coattails?

It may not be tomorrow, next week or next year, but I would be rather surprised to see the Privy Council around in decades to come. Who knows?

In this country's case, the Privy Council is our one last colonial link to Britain.

There were many links previously, but over time they have reduced in number.

Before Independence in 1962, which the British handed to us on a platter, "Mother England'' was the centre of our world. Back then there were the naysayers opposed to Independence, predicting doom and gloom for the young nation.

Forty-eight years have gone and I don't hear anyone calling for the British to come back.

In 1976, the Queen got her marching orders. I am yet to hear any of her former loyal subjects beseeching Her Majesty to return to reign over us.

The T&T dollar was once pegged to the British pound, but that was ended, also in 1976, due to the instability of sterling. Nowadays the pound could go up, down, sideways, do a backflip and that would not merit a mention in news reports. A marked contrast to the US dollar, whose every movement is tracked closely and analysed for any effect on this country.

The once-mighty General Certificate of Education (GCE) ruled the roost in education locally, lauded by some as the gold standard of education internationally. For a long time we swallowed that myth hook, line and sinker.

It conveniently escaped our attention that the Americans did not need this "gold standard'' qualification to enter their world-leading universities of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT and Princeton, which churn out Nobel laureates too many to count.

The naysayers pooh-poohed the upstart Caribbean Examinations Council certification when it emerged regionally in the 1970s, claiming it would never be as internationally accepted as the "world-renowned'' GCE.

More than 30 years have passed and the two CXC exams, CSEC and CAPE, now hold sway, by more than 20,000 annually.

GCE has now become a bit-part player, each year only a few dozen sitting its exams.

All this serves to show is that everything takes time.

The CCJ may be much maligned today in certain quarters, by those with their own agendas, but in time the region will see there is no future in the Privy Council. If it takes them five years, ten years, 15 years, 20 or more.

The British Empire is dead. Get over it.

A Charles

Mt Lambert

This is called Ignoratio Elenchi, "wherein, instead of proving the fact in dispute, the arguer seeks to gain his point by diverting attention to some extraneous fact". The writer has yet to give reasons why the Privy Council may be terminated. He instead meanders all over in his arguments of GCE, $ and £, etc. The fact of the matter is that the Privy Council, if anything has shown the legal immaturity of the courts in TnT, numerously documented at www.jumbieswatch.com. The Privy Council 'tap up' local jurists time and time again. The CAPE and CSEC exams are hardly recognised outside the Caribbean (ask students trying to get into a UK university) as is the UWI degree. If indeed the Privy Council is to be terminated, then it will be perhaps on a financial footing since Lord Phillip is on record that 40% of cases are from the Commonwealth and Caribbean countries which retain the PC. In the meantime, the Caribbean needs to attain legal maturity.

Naturally, I have yet to see the Express post my response.