April 30, 2008

National vs Regional Court ( T&T)

Volney: Govt is favouring CCJ
Wednesday, April 30th 2008

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Express

THE debate over the amount of money spent behind the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) entered the Hall of Justice yesterday, when Justice Herbert Volney complained about the malfunctioning public address (PA) system in the Port of Spain Second Criminal Court.

Volney said the PA system in the High Court had not been working for the past five years, but the CCJ had a system where you could hear "a pin drop".

He made the statement after the 12-member jury complained about not being able to hear the testimony of police constable Kishaa Mungroo.

Mungroo took the witness stand yesterday in the murder trial of Anthony Mc Carthy, who was fatally shot near his mother's Laventille apartment on May 16, 2006.

Two men, Ijah Oba Braithwaite and Marlon Taitt, are accused of shooting to death the 47-year-old former URP foreman, who was also a State witness in the April 2005 shooting death of his nephew, Oba Jones.

The debate over the Caribbean Court of Justice (Headquarters) Bill, 2008 originally took place in the Upper House, where the bill was passed and then at the Lower House last week. Many opposition ministers and senators critised Government for pumping millions of dollars into the court, since the judges had very little work at this stage, since the court was yet to be accepted as the highest court in most Caribbean countries.

The CCJ, under its original jurisdiction, is the final court of appeal for all trade matters within the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom). It also has an appellate jurisdiction as the final court of appeal for Guyana and Barbados at this time, as other Caricom member states like Trinidad and Tobago are yet to replace it with the United Kingdom's Privy Council.

During his testimony, Mungroo said he took several swabs of Taitt's hands a few days after the fatal shooting of Mc Carthy and it showed he did not shoot a gun.

State prosecutor Jerron Joseph also had tough luck with his second witness, police officer Michael Alleyne, when Volney ruled Alleyne's testimony as inadmissible.

Joseph then called police constable Randy Ramjag as his third witness for the day.

Defence attorneys Selywn Mohammed and Ulric Skerritt represent the two accused men. The matter is expected to continue today. -JJ

April 28, 2008

Land Dispute Case at the CCJ

Guyana land dispute case starts at CCJ today
Monday, April 28th 2008
Source: Trinidad Express

A civil appeal involving the Government of Guyana and a landowner is scheduled to start today at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The appeal is listed even while the Opposition party, the United National Congress-Alliance (UNC-A), has criticised the wanton waste of money and lack of work for the judges of the CCJ.

The appeal, which is due to start at 10 a.m., is seeking to resolve the issue of whether the Guyanese government can acquire by adverse possession, land compulsory acquired, which has subsequently been declared by the court to be invalid.

One of the main opponents of the CCJ, Sir Fenton Ramsahoye,QC, and Anand Ramlogan are listed to appear for the appellant Toolsie Persaud Limited.

Guyana's Attorney General Doodnauth Singh QC, appears for the Attorney General of Guyana while other Guyanese lawyers appear for the landowner.

April 21, 2008

Have Faith in the CCJ

B'dos PM: Have faith in CCJ
Monday, April 21st 2008
Source: Newsday

Caribbean countries need to have more confidence in the Caribbean Court of Justice so that they may finally accede to its appellate jurisdiction, Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson said recently.

The CCJ is the regional judicial tribunal but is designed to be more than a court of last resort for Caricom member states.

In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers and determines appeals in both civil and criminal matters coming out of Caricom states that are members.

Since its inauguration in 2005, only Guyana and Barbados have acceded to its appellate jurisdiction. Trinidad and Tobago, where the CCJ is headquartered, has not.

Thompson pointed out that even though the president of the CCJ was a Trinidadian (former Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide) and it was situated here, Trinidad had not been able to accede to its appellate jurisdiction.

It was therefore difficult to justify to some why the CCJ should be in existence when "only two countries have been able to accede to its jurisdiction", Thompson said.

He was speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association's annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel in Port of Spain last Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago and 11 other Caricom states agreed in 2001 to accede to the CCJ's original jurisdiction as a regional tribunal.

The CCJ's is headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago and the fact that a Trinidadian, Michael de la Bastide, is its president should be a source of national pride, Thompson said, adding that a greater effort needs to be made to have other countries agree to its jurisdiction.

Speaking with reporters following the TTMA meeting, he maintained there should not be an issue of lack of confidence in the CCJ since it had expert jurists.

He said something had to be done, possibly by an intermediary, to "push" these countries to accede to the CCJ's jurisdiction.

On Friday, local parliamentarians debated the relevance of the CCJ, given its enormous cost, and lack of use.

April 19, 2008

T&T Debates the CCJ Bill

Ramesh, Manning clash over CCJ
Ria Taitt Political Editor
Trinidad Express
Saturday, April 19th 2008

Saying that the judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice were "most of the time drinking coffee and reading papers", Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj yesterday called on the Government to either close down the CCJ or find a way to build public confidence in this institution.

Maharaj and Prime Minister Patrick Manning clashed during the debate on the CCJ Bill in the House of Representatives yesterday as Maharaj claimed that many Caricom prime ministers were having second thoughts as to whether they should continue to pay the expenses of maintaining the court.

Maharaj said also the judges of that court were unhappy because they had no cases and therefore no work to do.

He asked the Government to consider whether the jurisdiction of the CCJ could be expanded as a Court of Appeal in a range of matters, but allowing for a further appeal to the Privy Council. He said Caribbean leaders knew that the populations did not support the CCJ and they were rethinking the wisdom of having such a court.

Manning interrupted saying that he knew of no such position. He said Caricom leaders discussed the issue of making the CCJ independent of the respective treasuries of the region but at no time had there been any doubts as to whether they should proceed with the court. Maharaj countered that Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson noted that unless Trinidad and Tobago was part of the (original and appellate jurisdiction of the) court, it would be a waste of time.

He called on the Government to give the population information on the kind of money spent so far on the CCJ. He also called on the Government to commit itself to a reassessment of the situation to see how best the court could be utiltised given the resources being dedicated to it.

Manning said Caricom governments were careful to put financial arrangements to make the CCJ financially independent and as of now there was no additional call on the Treasury of Caricom countries to maintain the CCJ. But Maharaj challenged this, saying that Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George had stated differently. Manning stated that there were only additional costs to Trinidad and Tobago and that arose solely out of the fact that Trinidad and Tobago was the headquarters of the court.

Maharaj added that Sir James Mitchell, one of greatest supporters of the CCJ, was now saying that it should be looked at again. Manning rose again to challenge the statement saying to Speaker Barry Sinanan, "He can't get away with that". However, Sinanan suspended for tea.

Debate on the Bill resumes on Wednesday.

T&T Opposition Opposes the CCJ

Abolish Caribbean Court of Justice
Source: Newsday ( T&T)
Saturday, April 19 2008

THE Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) should be abolished and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council retained to ensure fairness and equity in the Judicial system.

That’s the view of Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj who stated that the Trinidad and Tobago population possessed a “lack of confidence” over perceived political interference in the local judiciary.
He was responding to comments by Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson who advised this country to “succumb” to the CCJ’s jurisdiction saying it would be difficult to justify the regional court’s existence when “only two or three countries in the entire region have been able to accede to its jurisdiction.” Thompson called for a “national consensus” to take place in Trinidad and Tobago, where the Court’s headquarters are located, so that the CCJ could replace the Privy Council.
However, Maharaj pointed out that the agreement signed by the UNC when it was government had been signed “subject to consultation with the people.” “The people must decide and given what is happening in Trinidad and Tobago at this time. This country is not at a time where we can depend on the CCJ having regard to what transpired in the CJ case. There is a lack of confidence in the politicians in Trinidad and Tobago . . . the Privy Council should be kept on,” Maharaj said.
He said millions of dollars were being spent on the CCJ with only very few cases being heard by the regional court saying the population of the other Caricom countries which had also not signed on to the Court would also not vote in favour of the Court due to perceived political interference in their court system.
“The Court should be abolished,” he said.

April 18, 2008

Trinidad Company files suit against Guyana for Treaty Violation

TCL files suit against Guyana - Claims failure to protect cement market
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
published: Friday April 18, 2008
Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo has hit out at the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), saying the regional company was taking advantage of the Guyanese market.

Jagdeo's comments came on the heels of the court action initiated by TCL Guyana Inc against his government in the Caribbean Court of Justice.

TCL is seeking millions of dollars in damages, saying Guyana had failed to impose the common external tariff (CET) on cement imported from outside the region.

Allowed importation

But Jagdeo said his government had waived the CET to allow the importation of cement from outside the region in order to meet the shortfall in TCL's supply.

The shortages had led to skyrocketing cement prices, Jagdeo said, forcing Guyanese to pay more for the commodity.

Minister of Commerce Manniram Prashad added that TCL could not and continues to be unable to meet the local demand for cement.

But beyond that, he had no comment on the suit, saying up to Tuesday the government had no official word on the court action.

Violated treaty

The CCJ application filed by attorneys for TCL claims that Guyana violated the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas when it waived the CET on the extra-regional imports, giving an unfair advantage to extra-regional suppliers and local importers to the detriment of the company.

It claimed that the move resulted in losses around US$2 million and has asked for compensation and/or injunctive relief.

The cement company had set up a US$10 million bagging plant in Guyana during the construction boom there as the country prepared for the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.

April 17, 2008

Trinidad Cement Brings Case under CCJ Original Jurisdiction

Source: Radio Jamaica
Date April 16, 2008
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is to hear its first dispute over the region's Common External Tariff (CET).
The CET is a region wide duty on some goods imported from outside the Caribbean Single Market. Trinidad Cement Limited (TLC) is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the Guyana government following Georgetown's failure to impose the CET on cement imported from outside the region. TCL claims that it lost than US$2 million as a result.
The company had set up a bagging plant in Guyana during the construction boom for the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean. However, there were complaints against TCL that it failed to meet local demand for cement at the time.
Wednesday marks the third anniversary of the CCJ.

April 16, 2008

Third Anniversary of the CCJ

The CCJ three years on
RICKEY SINGH, Observer Caribbean correspondent
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TODAY marks the third anniversary of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was ceremonially inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago with an inter-faith service on April 16, 2005 to usher in a historic moment for the development of a Caribbean jurisprudence.

It was established to function both as a final appellate institution and with an original jurisdiction for resolution of trade disputes arising from interpretation of the revised Caricom Treaty.

Three years after its inauguration with headquarters in Port of Spain, the CCJ remains the final appeal court of just its first two member states - Guyana and Barbados. It has delivered judgments in a dozen cases between October 2005 and March 2008.

All other partner states of the English-speaking Caribbean, including its home base, Trinidad and Tobago, continue to access the Privy Council in London, consistent with an age-old colonial tradition and with no movement on the political horizon for a change in its membership status quo in the immediate future.

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has, to its list of credits, the successful mobilisation of US$100 million on the international money market for the financing of the CCJ with a carefully crafted repayment scheme by governments of the participating member states.
While all member countries pay their contributions for the operational budget of the CCJ - estimated at approximately US$4.05 million in 2006 - only Barbados and Guyana can rightly access it as their court of last resort, plus its jurisdiction on trade disputes.

The explanation often offered by Caricom governments yet to sever links with the Privy Council is that they may first have to go the route of a national referendum. But constitutional experts have pointed out that while in Jamaica both dominant political parties have, as of last year, now committed themselves to the referendum course to determine replacement of the Privy Council with the CCJ, at least four Eastern Caribbean countries do not necessarily have to do so.

These four, all in the OECS sub-region - St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Dominica - have the option to negotiate support for a two-thirds parliamentary majority to access the CCJ as their final appellate court, rather than resorting to a two-track approach to obtain both the required parliamentary majority and going for a national referendum.

None of this quartet of countries has attempted, under different administrations, to educate the public in favour of replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ. Instead, there continues to be the curious scenario of opposition parties often on the offensive to retain the Privy Council, particularly when they disagree with judgements of their own courts.

Focus on Jamaica
On the other hand, governing parties justify the existence of the CCJ, but without pursuing any significant initiative to move the process towards terminating access to the Privy Council and allowing unchallenged claims of their domestic political opponents.

Latest criticisms levelled at the CCJ in Trinidad and Tobago - where passionate debates often take place about the independence and integrity of the local judiciary - came last week from United National Congress parliamentarian, Senator Wade Mark.

Not only did he engage in a verbal assault against the Patrick Manning administration for, as he claimed, being part of the regional governments "wasting" some TT$400 million (US$66.4 million) annually on the CCJ, but thought it necessary to introduce the race factor with his questioning of any West Indian of Indian descent being among the appointed judges.

In plural Caricom societies like Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, the race factor in high-profile appointments, including the judiciary, has long been a sensitive issue.It is troubling that Senator Mark should raise, at this stage, the race factor when seven distinguished legal luminaries comprise the judges of the court (two more are yet to be appointed), when making his criticisms against poor fiscal management by the Manning administration.

Incidentally, the senator is way off mark in speaking of wastage of $400 million when the total recurrent and capital budget for the CCJ in 2006, as audited, was US$7.2 million (including US$2.7 million in capital expenditure).

At present, ironically, and strange as it may seem to some, hope is being encouraged on Jamaica moving towards the promised referendum on the CCJ as its court of last resort.

The feeling is that once it takes place, the outcome will be positive in favour of terminating access to the Privy Council. Such a development could well inspire other Caricom states to cease being negative about the CCJ and broaden access.

April 10, 2008

Race and the CCJ

Mark: No Indian judges in CCJ
Source: Trinidad Express
Anna Ramdass : aramdass@trinidadexpress.com
Thursday, April 10th 2008

Opposition Senator Wade Mark has questioned the balance in the ethnic composition of judges appointed to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

He made the comment as he told the Senate there are no Indian judges in the CCJ. "There are 1.4 million Indo-Trinidadians in Suriname, in Guyana and in Trinidad and Tobago... they have appointed between six and nine judges to the CCJ, not one single Indian, not one Indian in that balance,'' Mark said in his contribution to the Caribbean Court of Justice (Headquarters) Bill 2008 at Tuesday's Senate sitting at the Red House, Port of Spain.

"And don't tell me that we don't have judges who are prominent and well established in the judicial landscape... even when you look at the composition of the CCJ, it leaves a lot to be desired."

He said he knows people of Indian origin who have applied for the position, and they have received letters indicating that "their applications are under active consideration".

"Tell me where is the justice,'' Mark said, as he argued that Parliament was being used as a tool by the Trinidad and Tobago Government and other regional governments.

He added that United National Congress Alliance (UNC-A) will never support the CCJ, and pointed out that under the legislation, the head of the CCJ, Michael De La Bastide, can be removed from that position with a three-quarter vote of Caricom Heads of Government.

"We have no faith whatsoever in the CCJ. It is a play thing of Caricom Heads of Government and it will never be able to deliver justice," Mark said.

He argued that other Caricom heads also do not have faith in the CCJ and the fact that only two countries-Barbados and Guyana -have lent their support is evidence of this.

Mark added that the people of Trinidad and Tobago were never consulted with respect to the establishment of the CCJ.

"The CCJ is a waste of time, a waste of taxpayers' money," he said.


Posted: 2008-04-09 10:02:00 PM
Why is Wade given so much press time when he has proven time and again by his senseless arguments how shallow his thinking is? I guess if making a fool of himself keeps him paid, then he will be a fool for life. Tell us another folklore Wade.
Good going Mark
Posted: 2008-04-09 10:03:00 PM
good going Mark and God bless you, thank God this is observation is made by someone of another race. Tell God will not show you His favor for looking at things as you see it, Trini In LA
Posted: 2008-04-10 02:24:00 AM
The problem in Trinidad is all about race, and unless it is addressed there will never be harmony. When I came to Trinidad in 2006 the problem was the Trinity cross, where is the complain about the red cross, we live in grey areas. The citizens of the WORLD need to start confronting the issue. Senator Obama said it well in his speech to the American people. I am tired of hearing about black and white, Negroes and Indians and religion, we're are very pitiful people, we're forever looking to blame somebody else. I am from Negro, India and Spanish background, who should I follow. I remember as a child, I had friends from every race and I never thought about it, so people please look in your heart and face your own racist mentality, then you will see why Trinidad is going to hell.

Equal Opportunity - Out to Lunch
Posted: 2008-04-10 02:52:00 AM
I commend you, Mr. Mark, a person of apparent non-indian heritage for bringing this error in judgement to light. The Caribbean is populated with persons of every ethnic background, education and qualifications. Yet, on the CCJ, there are no persons of 'South Asian/East Indian' heritage. Mr. Rowley only recently reported that T.T. has a smart and educated population. What happened to the persons of 'South Asian' identity who are very qualified to sit on such a Court? Is it as written by George Orwell that all men are equal but some are more equal? T.T. should never be involved in such a body. We are worth more than we seems to be given credit for. Please ensure that any decisions made by this government does not discriminate against any person regardless of religion, sex, age, political affiliation, or otherwise. We do not need to be a part of such backward institutions. Keep working on it, Mr. Mark. We expect and deserve nothing but the best for our citizens.

Senator Mark is Correct
Posted: 2008-04-10 05:04:00 AM
Senator Mark is correct, we should have ethnic balance in the CCJ. Please don't tell us that there are no very qualified persons of Indian origin and even persons also of Chinese origin and other races . In all successful developing countries persons of other races who are competent are included. Such a move promotes harmony and a sense that all persons no matter of race or background can be fairly represented.
Posted: 2008-04-10 07:29:00 AM
When will this man just go away? Can't the UNC A think of a more inteligent way of voiceing thier opinion that resorting to racial talk. How about finding a person more qualified than the ones nominated and questioning why this person was not called to duty? Justice, Wade Mark, should be in the hands of those most qualified to dispense it, and NOT as you would have it, something acted on by a racially biased judge, acting on behalf of his fellow indians. Just shows how much you know about dispensation of justice. Steven Il.
cry me a river
Posted: 2008-04-10 08:02:00 AM
There is no such thing as affirmitive action in the Caribbean and there should never be. When we look at the highly ranked judges across the caribbean how many Indians (not IndoTrinidadians as they cannot be if they live in Guyana and Suriname) do we see. Just as they can claim that their students are the most qualified to be accepted into Medicine at UWI. oh please. If they have not done enough to make themselves standout in their careers that what do you want them to do, appoint less qualified persons for the sake of ethinical balance. Not even in the US do they do that. If a firm hires a black person they seek the best of the best of the best of the best. So this nonsense is just another excuse to not support something that can only make the caribben region stronger. This is not a handout so dont make it into that type of appointment.
Posted: 2008-04-10 08:08:00 AM
It is time that you all stop this nonsense. Are we not Trinidadians and Tobagonians? After the last world cup Sat Maharaj brought in a gentleman(of indian decentwho played in the world cup) from a foreign country to speak to the indian children about football, why not Yorke, Hislop,or Latapy who aare from TNT? Not a word from the blacks in TNT. If this was the other way around it would have been upheaval. This has to stop. A NATION DIVIDED CANNOT STAND. TRU TRINI
Posted: 2008-04-10 08:31:00 AM
I just want to ask those who wish to bring our petty ethnic politics into the Caribbean region; are there any Syrian, Chinese, Dougla, Caucacian, Amerindians etc? You all are so petty, good God!