Stabroek News - Georgetown,Guyana
by Oscar Ramjeet
by Oscar Ramjeet
Friday, November 16th 2007
One of the judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has been explaining to law students of the Nova South Eastern University in Florida, Caribbean lawyers and members of the St Vincent Association of South Florida, the structure of the CCJ and its role in the region.
Justice Adrian Saunders said at the recent gathering that the CCJ is probably the only court in the world that is both the final domestic appellate court for a country and at the same time, the court that interprets and applies a treaty promoting regional economic integration to which the country is a state party.
The Vincentian born judge said, "many areas of law today and human rights law in particular, are becoming globalised. This began with the UN Declaration and has continued with a number of other international treaties."
The CCJ, Justice Saunders said, therefore intends to draw on the jurisprudence of the entire civilized world as potential sources for the advancement of our own jurisprudence. He pointed out that in its recent judgments, the CCJ in arriving at its opinion, relied on learning from the courts of the United States of America, Britain, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Canada, Mauritius, the Solomon Islands as well as jurisprudence from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and other international bodies.
He explained that Caribbean jurisprudence and its promotion are not just about civil and criminal disputes and matters of public law. The CCJ also exercises an original jurisdiction since the court is charged with the responsibility for resolving disputes between Caribbean countries that are parties to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The Revised Treaty, he said, seeks to promote economic integration among the states and to create a Caricom Single Market and Economy, much like European states have done with the European Community.
Great interest, Justice Saunders said, has been shown in the mechanisms designed to promote the independence of the court. Funding is provided through a trust fund, which has been established to guarantee the financial security of the court without making the court dependent on the governments for its funding.
Judges, he added, are appointed after care has been taken to avoid political involvement. The judicial positions were widely advertised and the appointments made by a regional commission comprising a wide cross-section of representatives of professional bodies.
The distinguished jurist added that the CCJ seeks to replace as our final appellate tribunal, judges from Britain with judges who have their fingers on the Caribbean pulse and who are in a much better position to pursue the goals of a final court in a more nuanced manner. He pointed out that the "establishment of the CCJ provides a platform for Caribbean jurisprudence to advance in a more wholesome manner and be better suited to the needs of the Caribbean people because responsibility for its development is beng placed in the hands of judges grounded in the Caribbean".
Only two countries, Barbados and Guyana, have signed on to appellate jurisdiction of the court since the other countries have to put in place the requisite constitutional arrangements to remove the Privy Council as the final court and substitute the CCJ.