27 Apr 2012

Resuming hangings…

The popular view is that by accepting the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final appellate court in matters criminal (only, and not civil) is that hangings for murder could resume.

JCPCBefore I continue, I wish to point out two errors in the Andre Bagoo (a qualified lawyer, no less) article. One by Bagoo himself who listed: “She made clear that the move away from the Privy Council, which is formerly called the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council…”

Just to inform Bagoo it is still the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as clearly written in large print on its website. Clearly, a lack of knowledge, followed by a lack of will to click a web link, or use Google.

The second error (first in the article) is in the Prime Minister’s use of the phrase ‘West Indian’.

It is almost axiomatic that the Caribbean Community should have its own final Court of Appeal in all matters; that the West Indies at the highest level of jurisprudence should be West Indian,” she said.

So which is it? Caribbean, or West Indian? Sigh.

From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then UK dependencies. Wikipaedia.

So way back in the 1960’s we had a West indies. Not since. A classic case of small island mentality in hanging on the the masters’ coat tails, nuh.

Anyway, back to the dispensing of justice. The Government seeks to mislead the population (as does Andre Bagoo) that hangings will be ‘easier’ under the CCJ. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Would the CCJ overturn the Pratt and Morgan ruling, to pave the way for easier hangings? Would it set a precedent that if we do not like a judicial decision from the Privy Council then we will abandon/overturn it?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Precedent, in law, is important. Therefore, the CCJ will recognise and retain all former decisions of the Privy Council, in fact may also have to follow decisions set by the Privy Council even after the CCJ becomes the final appellate court. Cases are cited from all over the Commonwealth and the CCJ will be no different. Therefore, Pratt and Morgan’s judgment will still stand, and hangings will remain to be virtually impossible unless all appeals are exhausted under 5 years, which we know is impossible in Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, the CCJ itself has said,

The main purpose in establishing this court is to promote the development of a Caribbean jurisprudence, a goal which Caribbean courts are best equipped to pursue. In the promotion of such a jurisprudence, we shall naturally consider very carefully and respectfully the opinions of the final courts of other Commonwealth countries and particularly, the judgments of the JCPC which determine the law for those Caribbean states that accept the Judicial Committee as their final appellate court. In this connection we accept that decisions made by the JCPC while it was still the final Court of Appeal for Barbados, in appeals from other Caribbean countries, were binding in Barbados in the absence of any material difference between the written law of the respective countries from which the appeals came and the written law of Barbados. Furthermore, they continue to be binding in Barbados, notwithstanding the replacement of the JCPC, until and unless they are overruled by this court. Accordingly we reject the submission of counsel for the appellants that such decisions were and are not binding in Barbados.

So, changing courts serves no useful purpose except to please the masses… until they realise they’ve been gypped once again.