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.

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