September 26, 2007

President's Statement to Impeachment Tribunal

De la Bastide denies 'big case' discussions
Wednesday, September 26th 2007
Source: Trinidad Express

PRESIDENT of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide yesterday stated that it would be "improper" for a Chief Justice to discuss a pending case with a magistrate.

His statement came in response to the testimony of Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma before an impeachment tribunal.

Sharma stated on Friday that Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls had told him that it was the practice for him to report the outcome of "big cases" with his predecessor, de la Bastide, one which he followed when Sharma assumed office in July 2002.

De la Bastide in a statement to the tribunal said that "was never a practice while I was Chief Justice (between May 1995 and July 2002) for the Chief Magistrate to report to me after every 'big case' which he tried, nor indeed after any case tried by him".

"There was no occasion on which I discussed with Mr McNicolls a case which he was trying before he had given his decision. I would have considered that to have been improper. Further, I do not recall any occasion on which I discussed with him, after the decision was given, a case which he had tried," his statement said.

Chairman of the tribunal Lord Michael Mustill said he did not think the statement was going to influence their decision in any way. He noted earlier that such meeting were not unfamiliar in other jurisdictions.

The tribunal met in closed-door session at the start of yesterday's proceeding to discuss the use of a report compiled by High Court Judge Humphrey Stollmeyer.

Stollmeyer was appointed by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to investigate a complaint made by Sharma against McNicolls. Sharma claimed that McNicolls made a false allegation against him accusing him of trying to influence the outcome of the Basdeo Panday trial after he was implicated in a dodgy land deal.

The Commission had met in emergency session on Thursday to decide whether it will disclose the Stollmeyer report and provided a copy late Friday with condition that its contents remain private. A second report, prepared by Justice Sebastian Ventour, which investigated McNicolls' decision for refusing to testify against Sharma in a criminal case, was deemed by the Commission to be irrelevant to the tribunal's task.

Mustill said that it was not necessary or useful to explore Stollmeyer's report. He also ruled against an application made by McNicolls' attorney to make any reference to a separate complaint against Sharma regarding the Naraynsingh case.

September 17, 2007

Refereredum for Jamaica

Source: - Jamaica
Prime Minister Bruce Golding Saturday gave the clearest indication yet that Jamaicans will vote on whether the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) should be the country's final appellate body.
Speaking in Trinidad where is he attended a Caricom Heads of Government meeting on Health, Mr. Golding reiterated his intention to hold a referendum on the CCJ.He says the referendum will be held as soon as the reform of the Jamaican Constitution is completed.
While it was in Opposition, the Jamaica Labour Party maintained its stance on the issue of the Caribbean Court of Justice replacing the London based Privy Council.It has insisted that a referendum be held to decide whether Jamaicans want to change their final appellate court.

September 15, 2007

RJLSC Appointment

JS Archibald QC reappointed to Regional Judicial and Legal ...
Source: BVI News Online, Road Town,Tortola,British Virgin Islands

Dr. Joseph S. Archibald QC of the British Virgin Islands has been re-appointed as a member of the Caricom Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) for a term of three years with effect from 20 August 2007 under Article V.5 of the Caricom Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a Final Court in the Caricom Region.
The letter of re-appointment dated 5 September 2007 was signed by the President of the CCJ who is Chairman of the RJLSC. Dr Archibald has written his acceptance of the re-appointment. The RJLSC consists of a Chairman and ten Members including two former Chief Justices of the OECS and Guyana.The duties of the RJLSC include:
• making recommendation to the Heads of Caricom Countries for the appointment of the President of the CCJ;
• appointing Judges of the CCJ, other than the President of the CCJ, having regard to certain established criteria;
• making appointments of officials and employees of the CCJ, and determining their salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service;
• exercising disciplinary control over Judges of the CCJ, other than the President of the CCJ, and over officials and employees of the CCJ.
The RJLSC has been granted power to regulate its own procedure, and its proceedings shall not be enquired into in any Court.In the exercise of their functions, Members of the RJLSC shall neither seek nor receive instructions from any body or person external to the RJLSC.Members of the RJLSC have been granted certain immunities and privileges, like Judges of Supreme Courts, throughout the Caricom Region.

September 10, 2007

General Election Underscores Jamaica’s Pivotal Caribbean Role

General Election Underscores Jamaica’s Pivotal Caribbean Role
By Sir Ronald Sanders
The pivotal place of Jamaica in Caribbean relations and in the region’s relations with the international community was underscored by the September 3rd general elections which saw the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) unseat the incumbent Peoples National Party (PNP) for the first time in 18 years.
The JLP is associated with a lukewarm attitude to Caribbean integration even though the country’s manufacturing industry and, increasingly, its big financial services providers have been beneficiaries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
The Party’s previous leader, Edward Seaga, was a huge critic of the economic integration of the 15 countries that form CARICOM, and while he was Prime Minister did little to advance the integration process.
At the end of last year, Mr Seaga wrote: “CARICOM is likely to face a slide, not a climb, in the future. One day we will look back at the days, months and years of effort that has gone into this futile ordeal to say nothing of the setback for the future, and regret the waste which could have been avoided if the lessons of the past had been taken to heart”.
Part of the past to which Mr Seaga referred is the objection of the JLP under Sir Alexander Bustamante to Jamaica’s participation in the West Indies Federation between 1958 and 1962. The JLP successfully campaigned against the Federation in a 1961 Referendum and Jamaica withdrew opening the way for the Federation’s demise.
The JLP, therefore, has a reputation of being ideologically hostile to deepening the Caribbean integration process, and it is understandable that other Caribbean governments and the international community as a whole would be anxious about the policies that the JLP and its leader Mr Bruce Golding will adopt toward the region.
A good clue to how a Jamaica government under Mr Golding will treat CARICOM is contained in the JLP’s manifesto for the general election. Although the party’s position is set out in two brief paragraphs in a lengthy document, it is, at least, positive.
The paragraphs state: “We pledge our support for CARICOM and the concept of regional integration. We will use our membership and influence within CARICOM and the CSME to exploit their real potential, i.e., to combine our energies and resources as individual states to secure investments, create jobs, increase exports to third countries and improve living standards within the region”.
There was no word about the region’s efforts to establish a CARICOM Commission or a similar mechanism to improve the governance of the regional integration process including the Single Market and Economy (SME) and nothing about whether the JLP will clear the way for Jamaica to replace the British Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its highest court of appeal.
It is more than likely that the government will not support a CARICOM Commission and it is difficult to see how it can support the CCJ as the highest appellate court.
But, on trade matters the JLP does see value in the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM). Its manifesto states clearly that, as the government, the JLP will “support the CRNM and the initiatives being pursued through CARIFORUM to conclude the most favourable agreements with the European Union (Economic Partnership Agreements) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha round.
These positions on CARICOM may very well suit other Caribbean governments which have never wanted to cede, or pool, any aspect of their sovereignty to a supra-national regional body. Those governments can now sit by while the new Jamaica government takes the blame for not deepening regional integration.
Since a quasi-Cabinet of CARICOM heads of government was initiated over a decade ago, the Jamaican Prime Minister has carried the portfolio for External Economic Negotiations. This task was performed impressively by PJ Patterson as Prime Minister and Leader of the PNP. When the ball was thrown to Mrs Portia Simpson-Miller on her election as the leader of the JLP, it was fumbled and eventually dropped.
The job will now pass to Mr Golding who is fully up to the task and who will undoubtedly give the Committee on External Relations the leadership it requires particularly as the Caribbean heads into the final stages of negotiations with the European Union (EU) over Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
In its manifesto for the general election, the new government gave a clear indication of the strong position that it intends to adopt on these issues. It says it will: press the EU and the US to remove their agricultural subsidies as a precondition for further liberalization of the Caribbean’s market for such products; strenuously advocate that the EU defer beyond January 2008 reciprocal market access; identify sensitive goods and services which can still be protected from market access under existing WTO rules; and insist on the establishment of a development agenda as the centrepiece of the revival of the WTO trade negotiations.
All of this is right, and if Mr Golding holds to these positions and Jamaica is backed solidly by other Caribbean governments, the negotiations with the EU might turn to a more advantageous track than the one on which they are now travelling.
So, while the Caribbean integration process will almost certainly slow down under the new JLP government, Jamaica will remain a strong partner on trade within CARICOM from which it benefits, and it will be positive leader in international trade negotiations for which its Prime Minister will have regional responsibility.
Nonetheless, the Caribbean region will be looking to Mr Golding for an early signal that he is bold enough to walk a more ambitious path toward regional cooperation than his predecessors were willing to do as leaders of the JLP and Prime Ministers of Jamaica. Giving such a signal would only strengthen the pivotal place of Jamaica in the Caribbean.
* * * Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean Ambassador to the World Trade Organization who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. Responses to: