Allow me to express how grateful I am as a young political student and a Caricom citizen who recently observed what I would describe as a ground-breaking event by our regional court, an event that many Guyanese should be aware of and evidently proud of.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is one of those organisations that the Caricom ‘brainstormers’ brought to reality. Although it is a reality, not many of the Caricom members accept the CCJ as their highest and final court of appeal; however the 2001 revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which they signed on to states that the CCJ is the region’s highest court. It is because of this statement that the Barbados government is required to comply with the Shanique Myrie ruling.
Guyana has always been a leader in the Caribbean Community and although we fell in economic power to Trinidad and Tobago, we still are the first to implement many of Caricom’s rules and guidelines including the Caribbean Court of Justice. It would not be a surprise if Guyana should be the first to implement the single currency and market, open our gates to Caricom citizens without hassle to live here as permanent residents or even easy transition to citizenship; after all we are the seat of their headquarters and intra-regional government.
But how effective is the CCJ with trade. Jamaica and Trinidad have been in hot quarrels of recent and the CCJ failed to step in when some Eastern Caribbean islands complained that Trinidad was subsidising fuel to Caribbean Airlines and not LIAT although they both are from the same region, both owned by Caricom governments and serving the Caricom region. The international law of trade “What goes for one, goes for all” applies. As for Suriname, their business is mostly supplied from Europe and hardly the Caricom market so they did not kick up a storm but if they had, would their voices be heard?
The CCJ is in its infancy yes, but she is already making huge strides at just twelve years old. The judicial organisation has an important role to play in not only sovereignty of states but the integration of that individual sovereignty.
It really is stupendous how an ordinary citizen such as myself can go towards the court and sue the government of another country for harassment, abuse and vindication of one’s nationality. Sure it is easier said than done and it is often a long and strenuous task but it is possible and we saw recently that is can be successful if you are dedicated to justice.
Shanique Myrie stepped before the Caribbean Court of Justice without the initial support of her government and state of Jamaica. She stood firm in her belief and fought on to the end with success. Her determination defines the strength of the Caribbean woman, of any Caribbean person for that matter; she put her foot down and said `I am not to be abused’ in her own way. She was fed up, she was tired and she was wronged and at the end she triumphed with a smile that held back much tears.
Outstanding it is. Outstanding that we now have a louder voice to represent the thousands of commuting Caribbean nationals, especially us Guyanese who are harassed and made a bench infamous, the rumours we all know are true and the burning eyes that haunt us as we walk past.
This ruling by the CCJ has made me a confident and proud Caricom national and I strongly hope that the organisation continuously gets the respect and support from Caricom, its governments and citizenry. I am proud to be a Caricom citizen with a regional court I can step towards for my rights as a citizen of this region and I encourage all my Guyanese brothers and sisters to let your voices be heard in and out of Guyana. If you know you have rights then use it as Myrie did.
For those victims who were abused by customs officers or immigration officers we have a voice louder than our individual governments I encourage everyone to use it.