January 20, 2016

Public education programme on CCJ to start in March

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Consultative Committee spearheading preparations for a nation-wide public education and sensitization programme ahead of the referendum on whether Antigua and Barbuda should join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says the programme will be launched on March 10.
Head of the Committee, Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry, says “work is in full gear” to ensure that the public education programme meets with the objective of informing citizens on the move by the government to move away from the London-based Privy Council, which serves as the island’s highest court.
Henry said that invitations had been sent to Caribbean Community (CARICOM chairman and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, as well as the prime ministers of St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada; the President of Guyana and Premier of Montserrat to attend and participate in the formal launch ceremony at which Prime Minister Gaston Browne will deliver the feature address.
He said the Committee has also invited prominent Barbadian jurists Sir David Simmons, Sir Henry Forde and Richard Chetanham to participate in the public education campaign.
“Plans also include visits to Barbuda for consultations with key groups including the Barbuda Council, the Barbuda representative, Arthur Nibbs, the leadership of the Barbuda People’s Movement, as well as church leaders. There will also be a Youth Forum specifically for the youth of Barbuda as well.”
Last Thursday, Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams, delivering the tradition Throne Speech at the start of a new parliament term, said that the government is committed to making the CCJ its highest Court.
He said the issue should be a bipartisan affair, but warned that any attempt to politicize the process could derail plans to move ahead with the campaign.
Henry who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, said  the Committee has “been busily putting together a draft public education campaign strategy that will seek to educate and inform the general public surrounding the CCJ and the Privy Council.
“I wholeheartedly welcome this latest indication of the pending referendum. The government has stated its position and I can advise that we are in the advance stages of our planning for what will be an extensive all-embracing comprehensive public education exercise.
“We will be education, informing, listening and sharing with all in the society; the electorates will be specially targeted; the private and public sectors, civil society, the Opposition, trade unions, and the Bar Association will be among the focus groups down for engagements which hopefully should run in earnest for approximately four months”, he said.
Henry said the inaugural meeting of the Consultative Committee will take place shortly to discuss the draft campaign strategy as well as the other plans ahead of the referendum.
“Already discussions have been held with the Chairman and other members of the Electoral Commission, several groups and potential partners who will be playing a key role in the public education process and management of the referendum.
‘Our draft plan includes focus group discussions; town hall meetings; the establishment of a  website in association with technicians within the Ministry of Telecommunications; engage all forms of media in a massive campaign as well as the publication of a magazine and flyers for distribution,”  Henry said.
He said the official launch, which is expected to be an all-day affair, will also include a public sector Forum.
The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories of the Original Jurisdiction of the Court, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to its Appellate Jurisdiction.
The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member grouping.

Published in the Jamaica Observer, 
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/pfversion/Public-education-programme-on-CCJ-to-start-in-March#ixzz3xp9fDEHU

January 13, 2016

More territories might join the CCJ this year

More territories might join the CCJ this year
Dear Editor,
We are in a new year and am certain before the end of December at least three more countries will abolish appeals to the Privy Council and accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal. Others will soon follow.
The CCJ was established on February 12, 2001, and inaugurated on April 16, 2005, and so far only four countries ‒ Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Dominica ‒ have severed ties with the London based Privy Council, and despite several promises and commitments by other governments there is an inordinate delay in the others coming on board. However, recent developments lead me to believe that Jamaica, St Lucia, and Grenada will soon become full-fledged members of the regional court.
Jamaica with a population of more than 2.5 million has recently passed three pieces of legislation, paving the way for such a move, and its Foreign Affairs Minister, AJ Nicholson, said there was no turning back.
He told lawmakers that there is no need for a referendum to decide the issue. He said, “Let us tear down this referendum wall.” He disclosed that none of the 41 countries that left the Privy Council and established their own courts had gone the referendum route.
St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Kenny Anthony, has always been an advocate for the regional court and so has Grenada Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, and now that a legal opinion has been issued by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court that a referendum is not required for those two countries to rid themselves from the Privy Council, moves have been made in this regard.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on constitutional reform for a bi-partisan approach. The MOU was signed in the presence of the President of the CCJ, Sir Denis Byron, who was Chief Justice of the ECSC.
The new Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, is also in favour of the regional court since he questioned his predecessor, Kamla Persad Bissessar about why she only wanted to go half way ‒ abolishing appeals to the Privy Council in criminal matters alone.
Fourth term Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines is a strong advocate of the CCJ, but his attempt to join the court failed in a referendum. He might pursue it after he settles into his new term, and the St Kitts/ Nevis Prime Minister will also be encouraged to join.
Yours faithfully,
Oscar Ramjeet

Article from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2016/opinion/letters/01/12/territories-might-join-ccj-year/

Adjournments blamed for CCJ court delays

Adjournments blamed for court delays
ANTOINETTE CONNELL, antoinetteconnell@nationnews.com

No case should be pending for ten years, and something must be done about the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) constant criticism of Barbados’ drawn-out justice system, says new High Court judge Pamela Beckles.
She blamed the clogging of the system on judicial officers taking too long to give decisions, lack of police files and too many adjournments. 
“I have a problem with reserving decisions for too long because if you wait for so long, you can’t remember although you have your evidence book.
“All of us are responsible for this delay – the judicial officer, the defence counsel, the accused. It is something we have to deal with. We have to do something about that criticism we keep getting from the Caribbean Court of Justice. There is no way no case should be in the system ten years; I don’t care what type of case it is.”
Please read the full story in today's Daily Nation, or in the eNATION edition.

January 11, 2016

New CARICOM Chair, PM Dean Barrow shares plan

By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Dean Barrow took over the chairmanship of CARICOM this week, emphasizing on the major issues facing the Caribbean in the year to come.
Barrow expressed optimistism over the prospects the Caribbean has, amidst the economic crisis most Caribbean countries face. He stated the economic challenges might be “the sternest economic test that our member states have had to face in recent memory.”
He noted that elevating the standard of living of member states’ civilians has been a challenge for the region, as most countries have faced an increase in foreign debt and poverty this year.
Under his leadership, Barrow, hopes the Caribbean will build economic, environmental, social and technological resilience to foster sustainable development.
The Prime Minister’s priority is on the issue of consolidation and he expressed hope that during his year of leadership, the arrangements made for Caribbean unity will be revised with the hope of making them more effective. Regional unity continues as a resounding message for Caribbean leaders.
Barrow highlighted the achievements the region enjoyed, making reference to the success of the Caribbean’s input at the COP21 and other achievements over the past years. He said these are benchmarks in keeping together as a region.
The leader of the country also mentioned the importance of the Caribbean Court of Justice, especially to shape identity and regional unity. He says he believes that having a regional appellate reflects on the level of intellectuality in the Caribbean and the region’s ability to manage its own affairs.
Crime, Barrow stated, is one of the worst social ailments prevalent in the Caribbean. He assures that this year, the member states will implement new forms of dealing with crime, especially focusing on grassroots movements.
Barrow acknowledged the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart’s guidance over the past year and resolved to continue strengthening Caribbean integration under his one year leadership.
Source: http://www.reporter.bz/general/new-caricom-chair-pm-dean-barrow-shares-plan/

November 17, 2015

Senator Falconer Proposes Live Broadcasts of CCJ Hearings - Jamaica Information Service

Senator Falconer Proposes Live Broadcasts of CCJ Hearings - Jamaica Information Service

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is proposing that live broadcasts or streaming of appeals be considered for use at the Caribbean Court of Justice.This, she said, is in order to “widen and deepen the understanding of the workings of the CCJ.” 

Senator Falconer was making her contribution to the debate on the three Bills to establish the CCJ as Jamaica’s final appellate body in the Senate, on November 13.

Through these Bills, it is the intention of the Government to separate Jamaica from the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council, and to become part of the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction.

Minister Falconer argued that acceding to the CCJ will afford all Jamaicans an equal opportunity for justice. She lamented that access to the Privy Council has been elusive for many Jamaicans, mainly due to the prohibitive costs associated with taking a case to that body.

“It is really the rich, private citizen or the relatively well off private businesses or those appealing death penalty decisions who receive pro bono help from local and English Counsel who can access the Privy Council,” she said.

Senator Falconer  said that in her estimation, the cost of travel and accommodation for the CCJ is about 76 per cent less than that of the Privy Council and the cost of filing documents at the CCJ is 98 per cent less than that of the Privy Council.

The Minister noted that the CCJ is already utilising audio and video conferencing facilities to conduct hearings, so that litigants and their counsel are spared the financial burden of appearing physically in Trinidad, where the court is housed.

“I place considerable weight on arrangements that put ordinary people on the right side of the digital divide and importantly on the right side of the justice system,” the Minister stressed.

She further argued that a final appellate body from, and for the region will be particularly sensitive to the realities of the Caribbean and will properly reflect the status of Caribbean countries as sovereign nations.

The Minister  noted as well that Caribbean judges have unquestionable knowledge  of the nuances of the region’s cultures, philosophies and social constructs.

“My faith in supporting the three Bills which seek to make the CCJ Jamaica’s final appellate court, rests in the certain knowledge that regional judges are erudite and of unquestionable integrity and legal experience,” she said.

The Minister  said  that  based on its track record, there is no doubt that the CCJ will effect positive change in the social order of the Jamaican society by delivering justice which is accessible, visible, efficient and reflective of the country’s values and mores.

“The CCJ is our clear and present opportunity to build our own jurisprudence, framed by our own historical and social experiences and reflective of our values as a people who subscribe to the rule of law. We are at the cusp of another dimension of the fulfilment of our sovereignty. Let us rise to the occasion and complete the task of Jamaica’s accession of that appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ,” she said.

Bills being debated are the Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015; the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 2015, and the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015.

The CCJ Bills were debated and passed on May 12 in the House of Representatives, where the Government enjoys the two-thirds majority needed to have them passed.  The Opposition voted against all three Bills.

The CCJ was established on February 12, 2001 through an agreement signed by the Heads of Government of CARICOM at their 22nd meeting in Nassau. It has two jurisdictions: an appellate and original.

April 13, 2015

CCJ celebrates 10th birthday

Trinidad and Tobago will in due course accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as this country’s final court of appeal, to replace the London-based Privy Council.
This view was expressed by the CCJ’s President Sir Dennis Byron, who formed this expectation based on statements being made by local officials. The question now is the timing for this to become a reality.
Sir Dennis, 77, a Leeward Islands scholar born in St Kitts and an attorney for almost 50 years, during which time he has held prestigious positions as a regional and international jurist, scoffs at the opinion of those who say the CCJ is inferior to comparable legal institutions abroad.
Q: Sir Dennis, the Caribbean Court of Justice is observing its tenth anniversary this month. Exactly what is there to be celebrating about?
A: (In his Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, headquarters of the CCJ Wednesday morning) I think we have a lot to celebrate including the fact we are in existence for ten years and it’s a great opportunity to serve the citizens of our region.
The court operates in two distinct jurisdictions: one is the original jurisdiction which deals with disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Single Market and Economy Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Secondly, final appeals from countries within the region. And during our existence we have done extensive work in both areas, 16 cases have been filed in the original jurisdiction.
One of them, which we all can remember, which received a lot of public attention is the matter where the young lady from Jamaica brought proceedings against the government of Barbados and that case demonstrated the relevance of the CCJ.
Therefore you do have something to crow about? 
(A slight smile) Well, I don’t like to use that concept but the point is we have in fact done a lot of work, it has been well done and it has been received by the persons who have benefited from the adjudication of the court.
In your 2011-2013 report you said words to the effect that one of the goals of the CCJ is to develop a strong regional jurisprudence system, yet there is this bugbear involving Trinidad and Tobago. Has that put a damper on your celebration?
(Decisively) No. I don’t think that Trinidad and Tobago is a bugbear (A heavy sigh). People have always been trying to get me to speak about what they call political will and I have tried to avoid that because …
Yes and I suspect that it would not be prudent to do so...?
(Interjecting) Well, No. No. It is not that I cannot do it but I am just saying I don’t agree with the perceptions that have prompted those questions. As I see it…if you look at government as an institution, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has done a lot to support and develop the work of the CCJ.
That is true Your Honour, but isn’t it a fact that Trinidad and Tobago is yet to make the CCJ our final court of appeal, with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar saying a few years ago this country was now willing to let the CCJ deal only with criminal matters from T&T?
Therefore isn’t it correct to say that Trinidad and Tobago is not yet fully on board?
Well, you see again I do not like that language because in my opinion Trinidad and Tobago is fully on board with the court; it has signed the treaty establishing the court, it has paid up in full its financial contributions to the court’s operations.
The court was set up on the basis that it would be completely independent of political interference and one critical area of independence is financial independence, so the CCJ does not have to depend on the monthly or annual subventions from any member government. Consequently, a unique form of financing was developed through a (US)$100 million trust fund which is funded through the interests derived from that money. Trinidad and Tobago’s contribution to that was just over 29 per cent, approximately (US)$29 million and they paid that in full.
It is only one thing they have not done and that is abolish appeals to the Privy Council and establish the CCJ as its final appeal court.
In your view Sir Dennis, wouldn’t it be a more acceptable proposition for Trinidad and Tobago to make the CCJ its absolutely final court of appeal?
Of course. I think it is overdue. It would be better for Trinidad and Tobago, it would be better for the court. It would be better for the region as a whole if the vision of the founding fathers were fulfilled in this matter, so we are ready and willing to serve the community in this manner.
Your Honour, if my memory serves me right, I think the present T&T administration, when it was in the opposition, it came out against the CCJ complaining about its ethnic composition…?
Well the CCJ has a component of seven judges, the President and six others and the qualifications for being selected as a judge are very clearly spelt out. In making appointments the Regional Judicial and Legal Service Commission can only appoint 
people who apply to become judges and then those persons go through a competitive process. 
The criteria that is utilised is high moral character, intellect, analytical ability, sound judgement, integrity and understanding of people and the society.
Obviously, legal knowledge is a critical part of that and these are the factors that are utilised to ensure that the best candidates are selected.
Now, you have raised the issue of diversity here because that is what is really being said: that a court should somehow or other reflect persons that it represents and we all agree that that is desirable. Our court, however, cannot function on the basis of a quota system where you say you must have this number of persons simply because of the numbers.
But one has to trust that the issue of diversity is a factor which would be taken into account in the selection process.
Are you suggesting that a person of a certain ethnic background has not yet applied to be a judge of the CCJ?
(A somewhat perplexed expression) Well, I don’t know exactly what you expect me to say in response to that. If you look at the seven members of the court—you have an Englishman, a Dutchman, you have a Trinbagonian who is a woman of East Indian descent who is the most recently appointed judge, you have a judge from Jamaica, you have two from the Eastern Caribbean and one male judge from T&T. So I think you have quite a mixture which demonstrates that type of diversity of the court (which) is far superior to the diversity of courts from other countries.
Based on your interaction with the Trinidad and Tobago Government, perhaps even at the level of the Prime Minister, do you have any sort of indication about how soon this country would come on board fully?
Well, you use that word indication, I cannot speak to that, but what I can say is that expectation and I do think it is likely that T&T is ready to go forward. I have heard the Prime Minister saying that it is inevitable in this regard, the question really is when is the right time to do it.
And I further believe that her readiness to come on board would most likely be influenced by statements from significant constituencies in the country. The most important in this context is the Law Association and I felt really gratified when the new president of the association said last year T&T was now firmly committed to ensure that the CCJ became the final appellate of Trinidad and Tobago.
Your Honour where do you see the CCJ in the next ten years?
In the next ten years the CCJ will be firmly entrenched as the final appeal court for all countries of Caricom and in fact it is quite interesting, we have already received indications that courts which are not within the Commonwealth are making enquiries asking us what is the process of making the CCJ their final court of appeal.
Finally Sir Dennis, how do you view the dispensing of justice by the CCJ in comparison to that of let’s say the Privy Council?
There are many answers to that question and the one that is most relevant at the moment has to do with the opportunity for access to justice. Take, for example, the court of appeal in Trinidad and Tobago gives many judgements each year and very few appeals are made to the Privy Council. 
That could mean two things: litigants are satisfied and they do not want to appeal. It could also mean that if they want to appeal it is too expensive and complicated to do so...which is it?
If it is the latter, having the CCJ gives the citizens an opportunity to get access to justice in Trinidad and Tobago in that regard and that’s the experience we have had in the countries where the Privy Council is the final court of appeal.
Source: http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-04-11/ccj-celebrates-10th-birthday
Sunday, April 12, 2015 

October 16, 2014

CCJ to protect traders of goods and services - News - JamaicaObserver.com

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Traders of goods and services will have protection from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), under the Caricom Regional Integration Electronic Public Procurement System, being developed across the region.

According to Ivor Carryl, programme manager for the Caricom Single Market and Economy at the Caricom Secretariat, a regional public procurement notice board will be created for member states to post their contracts, and where any player feels that unfairness is involved in the award of the contracts, the CCJ can be called on to adjudicate.

"In Article 7, which deals with non-discriminatory, equal treatment and fairness, all of your domestic laws and practices relating to Caricom, must mirror those provisions," he told JIS News in an interview.

"If a Jamaican company under the protocol submits a bid, and for some reason he feels aggrieved that the process (the tender evaluation) didn't go right, he would have the right under the treaty to challenge the procuring entity, and ask them to explain why he did not win the bid; and he has the right to go to court and challenge the decision," the Caricom official added.

Carryl explained that under the Regional Procurement Regime, the appeal mechanism has been strengthened, so persons will have easier access in seeking redress

Common Fisheries Policy for Caribbean approved as final policy

BELIZE CITY -  The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), comprised of Ministers responsible for Agriculture from across the Caribbean Community, has confirmed the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy as a final policy document for the Community.

The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) is aimed at fostering greater harmonisation across the Caribbean in the sustainable management and development of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture resources, with special emphasis on promoting the most efficient use of shared resources while aiming to improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has said that CARICOM policies, once authorized by COTED, are binding on the countries. At its meeting held in Suriname last Friday, 10 October 2014, COTED gave its stamp of approval to the CCCFP and said that the newly authorized policy should be applied by Member States as far as possible. The formal signing of the CCCFP by member countries is expected to commence in the months ahead.

The recommendation to COTED came out of the 5th Special Meeting of the CRFM's Ministerial Council, held on Thursday, 9 October 2014, in Paramaribo, Suriname, coinciding with Caribbean Week of Agriculture. On that occasion, the CRFM’s Executive Director, Milton Haughton, presented a paper on First CARICOM Strategic Plan (2015 – 2019). The CARICOM Sec retariat and all other CARICOM Institutions along with the CARICOM countries will all be following a single plan for the first time following its approval by the Heads of Government in July 2014.

Strengthening Fisheries cooperation with French Caribbean

Apart from its endorsement of the CCCFP as a final policy document, COTED also endorsed the decision arising out of the 5th Special Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council, held the day before the COTED meeting, to strengthen cooperation between CARICOM/CRFM States and the French Départements Outre-Mer (DOMs) in the Caribbean, particularly Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

Since 2011, CRFM States have been discussing ways of improving cooperation with the French territories in the Caribbean, when the issue was discussed within the context of strengthening management and conservation of the Eastern Caribbean flyingfish fishery and combating IUU fishing in the region.

The initiative comes at a time when the CRFM has adopted the first regionally approved management plan for flyingfish, a known shared species that is harvested by up to seven countries in the Eastern Caribbean: six CARICOM States and Martinique. The flyingfish plan was approved by the CRFM in May 2014 and closer cooperation with the French will support its successful implementation and provide opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration on other challenges facing the fishing industry of the countries concerned.

Curaçao applies to join the CRFM

On 17 April 2014, Curaçao submitted its application for Associate Membership in the CRFM. The Ministerial Council, acting on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, supports the application of Curaçao to join the CRFM as an Associate Member.

Consequently, the Ministerial Council has authorized the CRFM Secretariat to commence the process of negotiating an Association Agreement with Curaçao, which should be finalized and ready for signature for the 9th Meeting of the Ministerial Council slated for April/May 2015.

The Ministerial Council is empowered to admit any State or Territory of the Caribbean Region as an Associate Member, providing the Ministerial Council is satisfied that the State or Territory is able and willing to discharge its obligations.

Expanding knowledge sharing using ICT technologies
Representatives of the CRFM countries and stakeholder organisations also discussed strategies for enhanced knowledge management and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for information sharing and cooperation in the fisheries sector as a way to improve the welfare and livelihood of fishers.

The issue was discussed at both the Executive Committee meeting and at a one-day workshop made possible through the CTA-funded Knowledge Platform Project. The workshop reviewed materials and strategies being used for communication among fisheries professionals and stakeholders in the fishing industries across the region and considered ways of improving the effort. The workshop also sought to strengthen the use of ICT in fisheries and identified ways to promote sharing of information and technology for improving participation of stakeholders in policy development and the management of fisheries.

CTA is the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU) which aims to improve food and nutritional security and encourage natural resource management in ACP countries.

At its subsequent meeting, the Ministerial Council underscored the need for countries to use modern ICT tools to enhance policy dialogue and the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of programmes and activities within the fisheries sector. The Council expressed its support for the regional fisheries workshop on promoting blue growth, scheduled for 20 to 21 November 2014 in Grenada.

Update on Case 21 to tackle IUU fishing
In relation to developments in international fisheries law, the CRFM’s Ministerial Council welcomed the ongoing deliberations by the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Seas (ITLOS), to clarify international law on matters such as flag state responsibility and liability in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU ) fishing.

Legal counsel for the CRFM, Professor Pieter Bekker of Dundee University, Scotland, had presented oral arguments to the full Tribunal of 21 Judges on 5 September 2014. Bekker's submission was well received and noted internationally.

Common Fisheries Policy for Caribbean approved as final policy
By CRFM Secretariat Communications
Oct 15, 2014 

November 07, 2013

Caribbean Court of Justice president speaks on selection of judges

BOSTON, United States, Wednesday October 9, 2013, CMC – 

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron, says a conscious and forthright statement of dedication to achieving diversity should be noted when the Trinidad-based regional court is considering the diversity of its judicial appointments.

Addressing the International Bar Association (IBA) 2013 Conference here, Sir Dennis questioned how the CCJ, established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s highest court, takes into consideration the diversity of its judicial candidates.
“Complicating this question even more is the fact that it is unlikely that the pool of candidates, itself, will reflect the full diversity of the population. So, what should we do and what can we do?,” he asked as he addressed the topic “Considering Diversity: The Judicial Process for the CCJ and Beyond”.

Sir Dennis who served as Vice Chair of the Judges’ Forum panel discussion on “Appointing Judges: diversity or simply the best?” said the judicial selection criteria contained within the agreement establishing the CCJ does not offer much assistance.

He notes that in making appointments to the office of Judge, the agreement outlines issues such as high moral character, intellectual and analytical ability, sound judgment, integrity, and understanding of people and society.

“To be fair, the agreement does contemplate diversity, but only in the sense of intellectual diversity. It includes provisions requiring the inclusion of judges with expertise in international law and international trade law and allowing for candidates that have substantial judicial experience or academic experience in either common or civil law systems.”

He said even though the agreement does give some latitude to address the concept of diversity, the CCJ judicial qualification criteria are not an aberration in this regard, making reference to the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda that similarly focuses on merit and intellectual expertise.

Sir Dennis said even the updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia uses identical language, leaving diversity entirely out of the statutorily required characteristics.

He said despite the fact that diversity is not listed in the selection criteria of the CCJ and other international tribunals, it does seem to be taken into consideration by those who are doing the selecting or the electing.

“While we cannot know the details of the discussion surrounding the appointment of the first panel of judges at the CCJ, we can see the result- a panel, of only seven judges but with differences including those of gender, colour, ethnicity, nationality, places of geographical origin, religion and background experience, Common Law and Civil Law.

“This difference between what is on paper and what actually transpires during the selection process seems to be quite common when we look at other courts,” he added.

But he said he does not think that these informal practices and conventions as practiced by some international courts also are quite enough to address the issue of diversity and public perception. “Projecting a diverse and inclusive face – one that reflects to some degree the population that is served – should be a priority for every court. And I suggest that for the CCJ, a court that has been tasked with deepening regional integration, this is even more important and more urgent.

“We take this charge seriously, and we have strived to employ a regional work force, to represent the diversity of the region in the official languages of the Court, to sound like the region in the accents you hear on our phone system, to look like the region in the faces and flags you see on the website. I think it is time to make this same dedication to regional diversity explicit in our judicial selection process.”

Sir Dennis said while a quota system can never be appropriate for the CCJ, given the sheer range of diversity in the region, he believes “that a conscious and forthright statement of dedication to achieving diversity as part of achieving the best CCJ bench, would be an enormous step in the right direction.

“Of course one must vigorously maintain that the qualities of sound intellect, extensive learning in the law and good character cannot be minimised or sacrificed.”

But he told the international conference that diversity should not be a tie-breaker, as it is in the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute Resolution (2011), but a fundamental consideration in the selection of the Bench from the range of candidates who are up to the standards required of a judge of the relevant court.

“It should make the Bench as a composite, better than a mere aggregation of the individuals on it. It should not be portrayed as ‘diversity or merit’ or even ‘diversity and merit,’ but as ‘diversity as a vital component of merit.”

But he said that the solution comes at a price and cannot beautomatic or magical.
“It is not up to the court or its selection process alone. The price may involve an element of public service. No one can be appointed to the CCJ Bench who does not apply, and it is well known in the Caribbean, that the levels of remuneration at the highest levels of the legal profession exceed that of the Bench.

“Let us be honest and upfront about the role of diversity in the Caribbean region. I think it would do much to send a signal to the people of the region that while every religion, ethnicity, and nation cannot be represented simultaneously on the bench, we do pay attention to these things and they are taken into consideration openly and honestly in the development of Caribbean jurisprudence,” he told the conference.

Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/1031923.html?print#ixzz2jzEvETA7

Experts say Myrie ruling is a turning point for regional integration

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday November 5, 2013, CMC 

Almost a month after the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that Barbados had breached the rights of a Jamaican national when she sought entry into the country in 2011, regional stakeholders say the judgment represents a turning point for the regional integration movement.

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, but while many Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to its original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the integration movement.

At a panel discussion at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies earlier this week, panellists examined the implications of the CCJ ruling in the Shanique Myrie case in which Barbados was also ordered to pay BDS$75,000 (one BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) in compensation.

Myrie, who had been granted leave by the CCJ to file the action, alleged that when she travelled to Barbados on March 14, 2011 she was discriminated against because of her nationality, subjected to a body cavity search, detained overnight in a cell and deported to Jamaica the following day.

Myrie also claimed that she was subjected to derogatory remarks by a Barbadian Immigration officer and asked the CCJ to determine the minimum standard of treatment applicable to CARICOM citizens moving around the region.

Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said that while the introduction of free movement within CARICOM though noble, it was not properly thought out.

Highlighting Barbados's concerns, he said there were not enough structures in place to ensure free movement work and if the region doesn't get it right, there will be chaos.
“We're faced with a situation where we are concerned about whether or not we have the capacity not only to provide housing for all of our people but for those of us, those people from the region who we would love to come to live with us.

“But we can't invite people to come and live with us and then we have six and eight people living in a room, sharing one bathroom etc., (these) kind of stories you hear from time to time.

“We have the whole issue of education. We, to the best of my knowledge are about three secondary schools behind where we would like to be and probably three or four junior schools from where we would like to be. If we want to invite our brothers and sisters we want to ensure that they also have access to education,” he said.

Brathwaite insisted there's nothing earth shattering about the Myrie judgement and that Bridgetown has already made moves to re-train its border personnel in keeping with the CCJ ruling.

But he stressed that all member states must follow suit to make free movement a reality.
“What we were doing is that we were granting three months initial and then if you want an extension come back and give us a chance so we can get an idea in terms of what you are doing, what you are up to and if you needed the additional three months then they will give you the additional three months.

“All it means now from a particular perspective is that you want the six months and rather than having the mechanism where you need to come back to us, if we think there are issues we will go to you. It means that we will have to have some additional bodies on the ground immigration-wise but that's what happens in most countries.

“So that's why I said it is really not a major issue. What might be the major issue would be the fact that we really have to change psyche of many Immigration Officers across the region. I have been in St Kitts going into Nevis and been asked how come I am going into Nevis so often? I have been asked that. So it is not a case where it only happens in Barbados,” he added.

But Dean at the UWI Faculty of Law, Dr David Berry, believes it is important Caribbean people are educated about their rights under the Treaty of Chaguaramas. He said the treaty does not in fact grant freedom of movement.

“It grants freedom of movement in Article 46 to CARICOM Skilled Nationals, certain categories of persons. So what the revised treaty does have is another provision which says towards the goal of free movement we will try to do these things.

“So Article 45 talks about a goal of free movement and Article 46 is of one instance of free movement. So the revised treaty itself, and this was argued before the court, does not give a full blown right of freedom of movement.”

He said the regional leaders at their conference in 2007 created in a sense a right of free movement. “They created an automatic right to enter and stay for six months subject to sufficiency of funds...you will not become a burden on the public purse and that you are not undesirable. So those are the two criteria.”

But Dr Tennyson Joseph, the head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the university said the Myrie ruling has forced the region to rethink the concept of sovereignty.

He said the region's current economic troubles have also led some governments to look inward, moving away from the vision of deeper integration articulated by the framers of the “Time for Action” report who laid the foundation for strengthening of CARICOM and the integration movement.

“Whether or not the rationale that they identified which forced them to ask for a revised treaty, has either deepened or diminished, I would say that the challenges are greater. But because the challenges are greater one of the tendencies is for us to become regionalist instead of xenophobic.

“Instead of redefining sovereignty towards more regional framework, we turn inwards. Hitler faced a similar issue in his time in the First World War period, where he was facing an economic crisis and you know which choice that he took.

“Sovereignty is malleable, that the nation of citizenship is malleable. Globalization has raised new questions about what is a citizen. What is a state and what sovereignty,” Joseph added.
Another academic, Orlando Marville, the coordinator, Law, Governance and Society at the UWI said political leaders must do more to build a community.

He said ordinary citizens were making integration a lived reality and it's time for the political directorate to speed up the process.

“Very often ordinary people sometimes appreciate the community that we have more than the political agents. We sometimes make promises or agree to things that they know that they are not going to do, until come back to bite them.

“We have to have the sort of commonness that exist for instance among our musicians. I have been in Suriname and heard Surinamese sing bits of songs from Kross Fyah (in Barbados). Alison Hinds sings a song from Suriname as part of her thing and these musicians all believe in our community.

Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/barbados_news/1082850.html?print#ixzz2jzDEWAKP

October 30, 2013

Myrie Case Cited As Good Example Of CCJ Performance


St Kitts and Nevis (WINN):

The Shanique Myrie case is being held up by one retired jurist as an example of “how well” the Caribbean Court of Justice is working.
Former Chief Justice of the OECS Supreme Court, Sir Brian Alleyne, says critics of the CCJ should note that the results of the case speak volumes about the independence of the court and the professionalism of the Justices who sit on that court.
Sir Brian says too often local courts are abused verbally because those concerned contend that rulings are made based on bias rather than on merit.
He says these criticisms often go on to expand into suggestions that Caribbean states should keep the London-based Privy Council instead of signing up to the CCJ as their final appellate body.
“The recent decision of the Myrie case in the Caribbean Court of Justice is a good example I think, of the independence of the court’” Sir Brian told WINN FM.
“The court deciding in favour of the citizen over the interests of Barbados -  to me that’s a very strong indication of the independence of the Court.  I think judges are very aware of their responsibility and the traditions which govern the independence of the judiciary,” the retired justice said.
Vincentian attorney Kay Bacchus Browne remains unconvinced however, that the CCJ is the way to go.
Only three Caribbean countries: Barbados, Belize and Guyana, have the Caribbean Court as their final appellate jurisdiction to date.
“I think that the courts are somehow too near to the political directorate, and they are appointed by the political directorate even thought it may be constituted in a different name,” the Vincentian lawyer said.
Meanwhile the president of the St Kitts and Nevis Bar Association – Charles Wilkin QC, says he is concerned that some leading politicians in the region pay only lip service to the regional court. - 

See more at: http://www.winnfm.com/news/local/6040-myrie-case-cited-as-good-example-of-ccj-performance#sthash.Irk97BWu.dpuf

JLP senator’s CCJ call dangerously frightening — Nicholson - News - JamaicaObserver.com

JLP senator’s CCJ call dangerously frightening — Nicholson - News - JamaicaObserver.com

Monday, October 28, 2013
LEADER of Government Business in the Senate, A J Nicholson has lashed Opposition Senator Alexander Williams for his call for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be deeply entrenched in the constitution.
Nicholson, in a letter to the editor yesterday, described the call as "dangerously frightening in the extreme", saying entrenchment in the constitution would require an unnecessary referendum costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
NICHOLSON... where does Senator Williams' partisan political leaning take him? & WILLIAMS... calls for CCJ to be deeply entrenched in the constitution
Following is the full text of the letter:
"As you can well imagine, for me, Senator Alexander Williams' pronouncement in the Senate on Friday last is dangerously frightening in the extreme.
"He admits up front that 'matters relating to the judiciary should not be exposed to the political hustings'."
"The attorney/senator could hardly deny that, for that is the core reason why no former colony of Britain has established its final court of appeal to replace the Privy Council by means of a referendum, which, as Williams realises, is essentially a political exercise.
"But then, the partisan political clothing takes over. Come hell or high water, the JLP insists on a referendum, no matter what that might do to our judiciary.
"There is, of course, no requirement, on any score, of a referendum for Jamaica to have the CCJ as our final court of appeal, and for the court to be entrenched in our constitution. And the Privy Council itself has said so.
"So, where does Senator Williams' partisan political leaning take him? To an utterly new call for the CCJ to be DEEPLY ENTRENCHED in our constitution, which, constitutionally, requires a referendum for that to be accomplished.
"By that means, Senator Alexander Williams ('Smart Alec'?), brushing aside his premise of historical soundness, proceeds to declare: to hell with the Privy Council ruling, which was itself sought by the JLP; to hell with the hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars required for the holding of an unnecessary referendum, inter alia; we, the JLP Opposition, by any means necessary, insist on a referendum, even if voting for the Bills which are soon to come to the Senate will grant our people ready access to their final court -- a privilege denied to the vast majority of Jamaicans for centuries.
"Oh, the pernicious power of partisan political practice!"

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/pfversion/JLP-senator-s-CCJ-call-dangerously-frightening---Nicholson_15341865#ixzz2jEbninO5

October 04, 2013

CCJ ruling: Shanique Myrie to be awarded J$3.6m - News - Latest News - Jamaica Gleaner

KINGSTON, Jamaica: 
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that Jamaican Shanique Myrie be awarded a total of Bds$75,000 or $3.6m Jamaican dollars. 

The ruling by the six-member panel was delivered via a video conference in the Supreme Court. 

The court declared that the Barbados government breached Myrie’s right to enter the country under article 5 of the revised treaty of Chaguaramas. 

Myrie took the Barbados Government to the CCJ alleging that she was discriminated against because of her nationality when she arrived in Barbados on March 14, 2011. 

The 25-year-old also claims she was subjected to a body-cavity search in unsanitary and demeaning conditions before being detained and deported the next day to Jamaica. 

The Barbados Government denied the claims and argued at the hearing that the Jamaican woman had been untruthful to Immigration Department officials. 

Its lawyers also contended that her testimony was contrary to what she had provided in statements to the Barbadian police. 

Myrie wanted the CCJ to determine the minimum standard of treatment for CARICOM citizens moving within the region under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. 

Myrie had asked the CCJ to award her almost US$500,000 in punitive damages for the treatment she received on her visit to Barbados. 

She also wanted the regional court to award costs and special damages. 


March 14, 2011 – Myrie travels to Barbados and was deinied entry after reported inhumane cavity search. 

January 12, 2012 – Application filed to Caribbean Court of Justice after Jamaican and Barbadian authorities failed to arrive at a settlement. 

February 17, 2012 – First case management hearing by video link from the Supreme Court to ensure all relevant documents were filed and the way the case should proceed. 

April 20, 2012 – CCJ ruled that there was sufficient grounds for Myrie's case to be heard. 

September 27, 2012 – Jamaican government given permission by the CCJ to intervene in the hearing. 

December 12, 2012 - During a case management conference by video link at the Supreme Court a trial date was set for the hearing to start March 4, 2013 in Jamaica to reduce expenses for Myrie. 

March 4-6, 2013 – CCJ sits at Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston, Jamaica to hear Myrie's testimony. 

March 18 and 19, 2013 – case resumes in Barbados where the Barbadian government presented its case. 

April 8 and 9, 2013 – Final hearing at which the lawyers made submissions before the CCJ at its Headquarters in Trinidad. 

October 4, 2013 – CCJ ruling handed down.