Bill to extend tenure of judges at CCJ laid in National Assembly
Wednesday, December 5th 2007
Wednesday, December 5th 2007
Source Stabroek News
Three protocols to modify the provisions for extending the tenure of judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in special circumstances are among amendments to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ Bill 2007, laid in the National Assembly recently.
According to the last of the three protocols, this means that the tenure of the president may be extended, in special circumstances, beyond the date on which he attains the age of 75 or the date on which he completes seven years in office, whichever occurs first. And, in the case of other judges, not beyond the date on which he or she attains the age of 75 years.
The agreement establishing the CCJ provides that "a judge of the court shall hold office until he attains the age of seventy-two years."
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Doodnauth Singh presented the first protocol which contained provisions to ensure that sound arrangements for the administration and financial sustainability of the court are provided for; to clarify the circumstances governing withdrawal from the agreement; and to provide for the relationship between the original jurisdiction of the CCJ and the constitutional order in the respective jurisdiction.
In terms of modifying the provisions in respect of the tenure of the judges of the CCJ, the bill proposes that subject to Article IV, paragraph 6, the president shall be removed from office by the Heads of Government (HoGs) on the recommendation of the Commission of the CCJ, if the question of the removal of the president has been referred by the HoGs to a tribunal and the tribunal has advised the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJ&LSC) that the president ought to be removed from office for inability or misbehaviour referred to in paragraph IV of the agreement.
Paragraph 6 as in the original agreement now states that "The President shall be appointed or removed by the qualified majority vote of three quarters of the Contracting Parties on the recommendation of the (RJ&LSC)."
Subject to Article IV, Paragraph 7, a judge other than the president shall be removed from office by the RJ&LSC if the question of the removal of the judge has been referred by the RJ&LSC to a tribunal and the tribunal has advised the commission that the judge ought to be removed from office for inability or misbehaviour referred to in paragraph 4.
Other provisions in the first protocol dealt with rules of the court governing original and appellate jurisdictions in relation to the president consulting not less than two and no more than five other judges of the court, selected by him, in establishing rules for the exercise of the original jurisdiction and, "for regulating the practice and procedures of the court in the exercise of the appellate jurisdiction conferred on the court and, in relation to appeals brought before the court, the practice and procedure of any court in respect of such appeals."
It also provides for financial arrangements such as the expenses of the court and the commission, the cost of the maintenance of the Seat of the Court and the remuneration and allowances and other payments referred to in the agreement establishing the CCJ, to be borne by the contracting parties in such proportions as may be agreed by the contracting parties and as set out in the annex to the Revised Agreement establishing the CCJ Trust Fund. But another provision ensures that the salaries and allowances payable to the president and other judges of the court and their other terms and conditions of service shall not be altered to their disadvantage during their tenure of office.
The bill also said that subject to the agreement and with the approval of the HoGs, the Commission shall determine the terms and conditions and other benefits of the president and other judges of the court.
The first protocol also provides for the withdrawal from the agreement, as well as the relationship between provisions on the original jurisdiction of the CCJ and the constitution of the states parties, signature to the protocol by the contracting parties, ratification of the protocol and entry into force.
The second protocol deals with amendments relating to the security of tenure of RJ&SC and the third with the agreement establishing the CCJ in relation to the tenure of judges of the court.