Belize Leaves British Privy Council Appeals System

The government of Belize says it will stop sending appeals cases to the colonial-era British Privy Council starting June 1. The order announced by the office of Prime Minister Dean Barrow brings Belize’s appeals processes into line with the country’s constitution. The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice will hear all Belize court appeals filed after May 31. This change is “a major landmark” for the nation.

The London-based Privy Council long served as the highest court of appeal for many former British colonies. But many of those nations are removing themselves from the jurisdiction of the council, which is made up of members of Britain’s House of Lords.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was established on February 14, 2001.  The agreement to establish the court was signed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, and St. Vincent & The Grenadines (the last two countries signing on February 15, 2003). The CCJ was inaugurated on April 16, 2005 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. It had a long gestation period, commencing in 1970 when the Jamaican delegation at the Sixth Heads of Government Conference, which convened in Jamaica, proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal in substitution for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

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