August 25, 2007

EC Grants Financial Support to CCJ

Source: Caribbean Press (press release)
- Christ Church,Barbados
Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and CARIFORUM, H.E. Edwin Carrington on Friday 17 August signed a 1.3M Euro Financing Agreement to support the operations of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The signing ceremony took place at the CCJ Training and Conference Room, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The Agreement, signed earlier by the European Commission (EC), became effective with the Secretary-General’s signature. A Grant Agreement will be signed later to release the resources under conditions to be agreed by the CCJ and the EC. The execution period of the Agreement falls between 17 August 2007 and December 2012.

The CCJ, the Regional judicial tribunal, was inaugurated on 16 April 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, the CCJ is nevertheless an itinerant Court which could sit as necessary in any of the subscribing States. Twelve Member States have signed the Agreement establishing the Court.

President of the CCJ, Justice Michael de la Bastide said the money would be used to support a law library, building capacity for information and communication technology, public awareness; and transfer of European Court of Justice experience. “The European Court of Justice is much more matured than the CCJ and we can learn a lot from them and their experience,” Justice de la Bastide said. He expressed his gratitude to the EC, and said the “money was welcome and will be well spent.”

Addressing the gathering that included diplomats, judges of the CCJ, and the media prior to signing the Agreement, Secretary General Carrington stressed the importance and relevance of the CCJ to the operation of the CSME.

“Without the CCJ, the CSME would not be effective in the role that is envisaged for it. It would be remiss of me if I fail to acknowledge the important role the European Union plays, as the largest and most important donor in terms of regional programmes to the Caribbean. I am indeed deeply grateful to the EU for this expression of confidence in the CCJ and the Region as a whole,” the Secretary General said.

The EC also supports other Regional components under CARICOM such as the proposed Caribbean Regional Institute of Translation and Interpretation (CRITI) in Suriname and the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM).

This package further complements ongoing support for Caribbean Regional integration through programmes such as the support to the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network, to the Caribbean Rum and Rice Industries, to sustainable tourism and other institutional programmes, the Regional Radar Weather Warning System and capacity building in support of preparation of Economic Partnership Agreements.

The total funds for EC support under the Caribbean Integration Support Programme amount to 40.5M Euros.

August 10, 2007

PNP Promises to put CCJ to Referendum

Now PNP says it will put CCJ to referendum
Source: Jamaica Observer

August 10, 2007

The People's National Party (PNP) has made an about-turn in its position on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), promising to put the issue to a plebiscite within the next five years as part of other proposed changes to the Constitution.The commitment is outlined in the ruling party's manifesto which it launched last night at The Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.

"Before taking effect, we will ensure that these constitutional changes are submitted to the Jamaican electorate for their approval," the manifesto stated of the CCJ, an updated Charter of Rights reflecting the current thinking on human rights and the creation of a republic headed by a Jamaican.

Party leader and prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, who arrived late as a result of heavy rains and the visit of Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, did not expand much on the issues in the manifesto, as she was constrained by time. However, the manifesto gives clear indication that referenda will be held on these issues if the party is elected to form the next government on August 27 when Jamaicans will vote in general elections.

The PNP Government, under former Prime Minister P J Patterson, had stoutly resisted calls by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and rights groups for the CCJ to be put to a referendum.

Jamaica hopes to abandon appeals to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council and replace it with the CCJ as the island's final appeal court.

The controversial court was inaugurated on April 16, 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. However, only Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago have entered the CCJ in its criminal and civil appeal jurisdictions.

The court, therefore, serves the other countries in the Caribbean Community in matters relating to regional trade.

The court's critics have raised objections ranging from the quality of jurisprudence in the Caribbean, to the inadequacies of the justice system in the region, to fear that the court will be underfunded and the possibility of political interference. There were also concerns that the CCJ was being introduced to ensure the application of the death penalty.

The Jamaican Government's reluctance to put the issue to a referendum was challenged by local rights groups who took their case to the Privy Council and won a judgement in their favour in February 2005.

Ostensibly, the British law lords ruled that while their court can be struck down by a simple majority in Parliament, it would require special constitutional provisions to entrench the CCJ before it could come into force with superior authority to the Jamaican appeal court.

The ruling left the Jamaican Government with the option of putting the issue to the public or getting the support of a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament.

Last year March, Patterson, in his final appeal to political leaders before leaving Gordon House, suggested that they seek bipartisan consensus on at least two of three issues of full sovereignty.

The three issues, which he said would "substantially advance the process of claiming our full sovereignty as a result of critical constitutional reform and provisions", were:
. the entrenchment in the Constitution, in short order, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
. completion of the process of "decolonisation", by creating a Republican system of government, with a president as the head of state, with authority derived directly from the people of Jamaica; and
. completing the process of the CCJ becoming the country's final appellate court.

Last night, Patterson's successor, Simpson Miller, also gave firm commitment to the transformation of the justice system by implementing the recommendations of a Government-commissioned reform task force.

Under that programme, a Law Foundation of Jamaica will be set up to assist with "funding innovative justice-related services." in collaboration with the private sector.

The PNP manifesto has also given the party's commitment to the reorganisation of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to provide a "single prosecution service for all courts", along with the establishment of a Judicial Code of Conduct.

The party also proposed a programme of human resources and training in the justice system to:
. Establish an independent Court Services Agency, answerable to Parliament and under the direction of the chief justice to help ensure independence of the judiciary from any influence or interference from the executive;
. Establish a Court Services Unit within the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for the implementation of modern systems and structures for our courts;
. Regionalise the Supreme Court; and
. Review operations of specialised courts, and introduce new courts to deal with mental health and domestic violence

August 08, 2007

Threat to Bring Constitutional Case to CCJ

All the way to the CCJ
Source: Stabroek News, Guyana - Aug 7, 2007

There is a real possibility the PNCR-1G may test the constitutionality of the High Court (Amendment) Bill, passed in the National Assembly on Thursday, all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), party Chairman Winston Murray says.

Meanwhile the party has restated that it will file a constitutional motion challenging the legality of the amendment in the high court.

For Full Report click link above.

August 05, 2007

CCJ President to Address Regional Advisory Board

Mr. Charles briefed Justice De La Bastide on the work of the Commonwealth Youth Programme and also outlined the various CYPCC initiatives to mainstream youth development issues within the broader regional development strategy.

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) The Right Honourable Justice Michael De La Bastide has consented to deliver the feature address at the Regional Advisory Board 2007 meeting slated for August 20 to 24 in Trinidad and Tobago.

The announcement followed a meeting between Mr. Henry Charles, Regional Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean Centre (CYPCC) and Justice De La Bastide on June 5 at the CCJ's Headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago during which several important issues related to law and order, regional legislative framework and judicial systems and the implications for youth development within the context of sustainable development were discussed.

The meeting was part of CYPCC's continuous efforts to develop strategic partnerships and mainstream youth development issues in the Caribbean.

Mr. Charles briefed Justice De La Bastide on the work of the Commonwealth Youth Programme and also outlined the various CYPCC initiatives to mainstream youth development issues within the broader regional development strategy.

Recently the Regional Director has been focusing on the impact of the existing judicial systems on young people in the region and has advocated for the reformation of the juvenile justice systems in the Caribbean as part of a paradigm shift in the regional youth development strategy.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a regional judicial tribunal established on 14 February 2001. The appellate court was inaugurated on 16 April 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago under the Revised Treaty of Charguaramas of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that established the CARICOM Single Market and Economy signed by CARICOM Heads of Government.

The court has several functions two of which are, to act as a court that can handle trade disputes amongst CARICOM member states and to serve as a court of final appeal, replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Misconceptions about the Role of the CCJ

Source: LoveFM - Belize
Commissioner Westby said it is now time for Belize to work towards joining the Caribbean Court of Justice .
“As societies and the region evolve, we as a people regionally,we need to have our own system in place. We understand our own unique situation in the Caribbean. Certainly hats off to the Privy Council but I think that it’s time for us to have and I would like to see our Belizean politicians come together and pass in the House of the National Assembly where we can have the Criminal’s Appeal because right now if it’s five years and they go to the Privy Council, they will not hang them again. I have never ever authorized any hanging I’m certain if you commit a crime then you must pay a price. And that is what I would like to see our politicians come together and put partisan politics aside or pass the bill or the act or whatever it is to authorize the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final court of appeal.”

August 03, 2007

Dress Code for Attorneys at the CCJ

Letter: No wigs at the Caribbean Court of Justice
Published on Friday, March 9, 2007
Source: Caribbean Net News
Dear Sir:
I refer to a letter published on Thursday March 8, 2007 from Mr Louie Christian in which he indicates that wigs are worn at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and goes on to express his view on this. Mr Christian’s information is incorrect.

Please be advised that a decision of this sort is one which is made by the Court and not by any of the organs of CARICOM and, in fact, wigs are not worn at the CCJ. The dress code for attorneys as well as other information for attorneys is to be found at the CCJ website under the menu offering, “attorneys” at: At that page the following statement appears:

“4. Mode of dress when appearing before the Court Attorneys appearing before the Court are expected to dress as they would to address the Supreme Court in their home state. Wigs however are not required. For a case management conference attorneys are required to dress as they would for chamber court or for a case management conference in their home state.”
The CCJ Judges when in open court, wear unique CCJ blue and gold robes and do not wear wigs. The blue robes signify the Caribbean Sea which touches our shores and binds us together and the pure and strong gold band signifies the strength of the Caribbean sun which warms us all. In case management conferences, they wear no robes.
The Caribbean Court of Justice website which gives a great deal of information about the Court is located at
I encourage your readers to visit the site.
Thank you.
Master Christie-Anne Morris-Alleyne
Court Executive Administrator Caribbean Court of Justice