December 18, 2008

Trinidad AG defends CCJ

Trinidad AG defends CCJ
Thursday December 18 2008
Source: Antigua Sun

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Attorney-General Bridgid Annisette-George yesterday pledged support for the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) after one of her predecessors called for the suspension of the regional court that is intended to replace the London-based Privy Council.

Only Barbados and Guyana are members of the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ that was established in 2001 and inaugurated four years later to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court. However, most of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries are signatories to the original jurisdiction of the court.

Annisette-George has described as “disingenuous” statements made over the weekend by former attorney-general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj that the CCJ “has now become a non-starter as most countries in the region cannot get their population to support the abolition of the Privy Council.”

He said regional governments were spending millions of dollars on the CCJ while their citizens “are starving and have poverty problems.”

“So the whole question arises about the relevance of the CCJ,” Maharaj said, adding that in the prevailing economic situation “some effort should be made to suspend its operations and reduce its staff.”

Annisette-George said the CCJ signatories should “corral their populations to support the implementation of the relevant legislation to abolish appeals to the Privy Council,” adding “there “are about 46 matters currently filed before the CCJ–43 are appeals from Guyana and Barbados.”

She recalled that Maharaj was part of the Trinidad & Tobago government that signed the agreement establishing the CCJ, adding that those politicians had “for no justifiable reason become the proverbial turncoats.”

She said the Caribbean and Mauritius were the only remaining bastions of the British court system for appeals, questioning: “Are we going to await eviction from the Privy Council before fully accepting the CCJ?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comments of Maharaj seem to have no basis. This is because the court is not directly financed by the Member States; rather by a consolidated fund established for this purpose. I believe that his statements are politicised, since anyone following the development of the court can attest to the benefits of the appellate jurisdiction. The main problem is a lack of awareness of the usefulness of the court.