The Twenty-Second Meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) ended Wednesday, one day ahead of schedule. Chairing the meeting was Basil Williams, S.C., Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs of Guyana.
CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, declared the meeting open. He asked the forum to pay close attention to the matters impacting Crime and Security in the Region, as well as those related to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The Secretary General added that since the LAC is the body that drives the Legislative Agenda of CARICOM, it is necessary that this body meet more regularly.
Attorneys General from CARICOM Member States Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago were a part of the meeting, some joining via video conference.
Belize and Suriname were also represented by senior officials. Also present were representatives from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety (CAHFSA), the Caribbean Law Institute Centre (CLIC), the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and the CARICOM Secretariat.
High on the Agenda were several Community instruments for review, including the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), the Agreement on the Return and Sharing of Recovered Assets and the CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty (CAWT). These and other instruments were approved by the Attorneys General for submission to the Thirty-Eight Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government slated for the July 4, 2017 for adoption and signature.
Model Legislation was also considered, in particular the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is aimed at addressing terrorism and terrorist activities – an emerging threat to the Region’s security. The Bill speaks to, among other things, foreign terrorist fighters and designating geographical areas. The Anti-Terrorism Bill along with the Public Procurement Bill, Food Safety Bill and Mediation Bill were approved by the 22nd LAC as the CARICOM Models for implementation by Member States.
Matters touching and concerning the CSME, specifically those related to the free movement of CARICOM nationals, were discussed at length and certain recommendations were made by the Twenty-Second LAC to the Conference and other Organs of CARICOM. There was also a fruitful and meaningful discourse on the state of Legal Education in Member States following a Report on a survey undertaken by the Council of Legal Education (CLE). Issues such as access to law schools and the role and function of the CLE formed part of the discussion.
Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General of Barbados commended the Hon. Basil Williams, S.C., M.P. for his work as Chairman of the LAC, under whose leadership several matters that have long been engaging the attention of this body were finally brought to completion. These sentiments were echoed by Cajeton Hood, Attorney General of Grenada.
The meeting ended on a positive note, with renewed commitment from the Attorneys General to work assiduously to discharge the mandate given to the LAC.
This would be the second meeting of the LAC held within the last eight months. The Twenty-Third LAC is expected to be held in September, 2017.
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