As the date approaches for the referendum on whether Antigua and Barbuda accepts the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court, former Attorney General Justin Simon, QC, is calling on the electorate to put aside partisan politics, and view the issue in the collective interest of the country.
“This is what I will be pushing on the trail to promote the CCJ. I am not saying that people will not have their political difference, but let us sink them in respect to this particular cause,” Simon said during an interview on state media.
The London-based Privy Council presently serves as the island’s final court and a referendum will be held on November 6 for the population to indicate whether they instead intend to join the Trinidad-based CCJ that was established in 2001.
Simon, who served as AG under a previous administration of the United Progressive Party (UPP), is making these remarks following continuous calls by the UPP, now the main parliamentary opposition, for the referendum to include more than one item in the context of constitutional reform.
As recent as May of this year, the UPP’s Political Leader Harold Lovell in outlining the party’s view, said, “We feel that the CCJ issue should be placed in the whole context of constitutional reform so that there is a better and clearer understanding of the issue of the CCJ.”
Simon, however, holds a different position and said he believes that the referendum should remain a one issue initiative.
“I am of the strong opinion and view that the CCJ should be dealt with on its own by itself. We look at the experience of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which placed other issues of constitutional reform on the table and that was rejected,” Simon said.
He added that the CCJ matter is a question of the judiciary which should be dealt with separately from politics.