Caribbean islands vote to retain London-based appeal court

A centuries-old London body will continue to have the final say on the administration of justice in two Caribbean ex-colonies after referendums to replace it with a regional court failed to reach the requisite majorities.

British rule in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada ended decades ago but -– like many of the English-speaking islands -– they have retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as their final court of appeal.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Wednesday described the result as “disappointing but not surprising,” given the lack of support from the main opposition.

Voters in both nations went to the polls Tuesday to determine whether to officially adopt the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) instead.

Just under 48 percent of people in Antigua and Barbuda voted in favor of the constitutional changes and around 45 percent of those in Grenada. The referendums required a two-thirds majority to pass.

Low turnout in both countries suggested some apathy among the populace; just one in four registered voters took part in Grenada and one in three in the twin island nation.

Both governments had campaigned heavily in favor of the CCJ, with the main opposition parties urging residents to vote against it.

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