Resuscitating a dying Community

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – “…[T] he full extent of the right is that both entry and stay of a Community national must not only be “definite”, but also “hassle free” or without harassment or the imposition of impediments. These are essential elements of that right…” per CCJ in Myrie v Barbados [2013] – (para. 63)
In our view, the major significance of last Friday’s decision issued by the Caribbean Court of Justice in Shanique Myrie v The State of Barbados might not be found in its clear subjugation of Barbadian domestic law to community law in respect of the freedom of CARICOM nationals to travel within the region; nor, indeed, in its factual finding that the evidence of Ms Myrie was to be preferred to that of the local officers. It should be found rather, we submit, in the fact that a seemingly moribund regional Community, one whose obituary has often been prepared and sometimes read by various commentators, has been seemingly given the kiss of life by an institution that was established with “exclusive jurisdiction to deliver advisory opinions concerning the interpretation and application of the [Revised] Treaty [of Chaguaramas]”, the constituent instrument of CARICOM.
What is even more remarkable in this context is that the Court itself is not listed among the principal organs of the Community. Yet, in last week’s decision, it struck the most telling blow so far for regional unity; one more significant in its import than anything else that might have been effected by the multifarious, turgidly worded communiqués and conference decisions over the past years.
Those of us who had despaired of the lofty ideals of regionalism so authoritatively expressed in the Revised Treaty ever becoming accepted practice must have offered up a silent prayer of thanks when the Court pronounced that “the original jurisdiction of the Court has been established to ensure observance by the Member States of obligations voluntarily undertaken by them at the Community level” (emphasis added).

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