Commonwealth islands in the Caribbean have stepped up a campaign to sever Privy Council links and set up a Caribbean Court of Appeal.
It is understood that officials from the islands, which include Belize, Jamaica and Tobago, are currently discussing the details of a Caribbean Supreme Court, with West Indian judges, which would preside over all 12 English-speaking Caribbean nations.
The Barbados government has appointed a Constitutional Revision Commission to look at the issue. It has until October to report.
Lawyers say the political climate in the islands is much in favour of hanging criminals and there is resentment at a Privy Council decision in 1993 to commute capital punishment for prisoners spending more than five years on Death Row.
One human rights lawyer in Belize described people as “clamouring for the hangman”.
Anthony Burton, senior partner at Simons Muirhead & Burton, a firm experienced in dealing with death row cases in the Caribbean, said: “The view is that the Privy Council is out of touch. There is a feeling of concern, if not resentment, that it is persisting in a slightly patronising and colonial approach to criminal justice.
“The curious anomaly is that the islands with a strong commercial base, such as the Bahamas, are quite happy to retain the Privy Council jurisdiction in connection with civil matters because it provides investors with a feeling of security.”
He said that, although he was in favour of establishing a final Caribbean Court of Appeal, the constitution of the court had to be looked at closely.
“It is terribly important that there is seen to be a separation of power so that the executive is not totally responsible for the appointment of the judges,” added Burton.