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Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
Caribbean seeks funds for new court
Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (L) talks to Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington
Haiti boosts Caricom's tiny population by more than half
Caribbean leaders have asked their regional development bank to fund a new appeals court to replace the existing colonial-era British system.

The leaders of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) are asking for $100 million for the London-based Privy Council's replacement.

Caricom
Launched in its current form in1973
Currently has 14 members, ranging from Jamaica to Suriname
Haitian membership would raise its overall population from 6.5 m to 8 m
They also accepted Haiti as the 15th member of Caricom on the last day of their summit on Friday in Georgetown, Guyana.

The annual summit took place amid violent political unrest in Guyana.

Caricom's Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, said the addition of Haiti would boost the Community.

"I have been saying all along that people should understand that Haiti has 8 million people and their buying power would be enormous both now and in the future," he said.

Caricom is asking the Caribbean Development Bank to raise the money on the international capital market, the Associated Press reports.

Placed in a trust, the fund would generate about $5m in annual interest payments and this would be used to run the Trinidad-based court.

Unifying role

Compton Bourne, the bank's president, said the fund would avoid having to depend on regional budgets.

"The court would not have to worry about where next year's money is coming from," he said.

Mr Bourne added that Caribbean leaders seemed keen to ensure they had no direct role in funding the bank.

If the fund is approved, the court is due to start operating next year.

It is intended as a key part of a European-style single market that Caricom hopes to establish by 2004 and may play a part in settling trade disputes.

Britain's Privy Council has been the court of last resort for decades for several former British Caribbean islands.

It has been accused of obstructing the islands' efforts to enforce the death penalty, which is illegal in Britain.

Unrest

The summit has been overshadowed by violent protests in Georgetown.

Georgetown street
Protesters burnt property after the shootings
Police opened fire on opposition demonstrators on Wednesday after they approached the president's office. Two people were killed and 12 received gunshot wounds.

One of the protesters' leaders, Phillip Bynoe, accused the government of President Bharrat Jagdeo of "starting a civil war".

The police were out in force again in the capital on Friday.

See also:

15 Feb 01 | Americas
08 Jun 99 | Americas
20 Jul 98 | Americas
14 Sep 00 | Americas
19 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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