March 29, 2009

CARICOM secretary general to testify before CCJ

CARICOM secretary general to testify before CCJ in legal battle
Published on Friday, March 27, 2009
Print Version
By Oscar Ramjeet
Caribbean Net News Special Correspondent
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad:
Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has been summoned to give evidence before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) next week in a multi-million dollar legal battle between Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and CARICOM.

The Trinidad Guardian reported that Carrington has already given an affidavit in the matter and he will be subjected to intense cross-examination by lead attorney for TCL, Guyanese national, Dr Claude Denbow SC. Former St. Lucia Prime Minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, will team up with Anthony Astaphan, SC, to represent CARICOM before the CCJ.
The Jamaican government has joined the fray and will be represented by its Attorney General, Douglas Leys, and Candice Rochester.
The hearing will take place next Tuesday and will continue on Wednesday.
On January 15, the CCJ heard an application by the TCL for special leave to commence proceedings before the court against CARICOM under Article 222 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The court received written submissions from CARICOM and, at the hearing, heard the oral submissions of the applicant and the Community.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court granted special leave to TCL as a private entity to commence proceedings against CARICOM. TCL is seeking several remedies, including a declaration that the decision of CARICOM, dated November 25, 2008, to suspend the Common External Tariff (CET) on imports of grey cement for a period of one year, was “irrational, illegal, unreasonable, null and of no effect”.
The TCL Group's principal market is the CARICOM Common Market established by the revised treaty.
The CCJ is hearing the application in its original jurisdiction.

March 22, 2009

Dominica confirms support for CCJ

Dominica confirms support for CCJ
Source: Dominica New Online
Originally published: March 21, 2009 08:01:00 PM
Dominica has officially affirmed its plans to sign on to the appelate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and abolish appeals to the British Privy Council.

According to, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made the declaration at last week's CARICOM heads of government summit in Belize.
In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Skerrit said that he has already given instructions to engage the Bar Association as well as the political opposition, with the intention of making the decision fully a reality by year-end.
The Dominica leader meanwhile told CMC that members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should state their positions regarding the CCJ, and proposed that if the region is not serious about the CCJ, it should close the Trinidad-based court.
He said a significant amount of resources have been put into the establishment of the CCJ, but with only two CARICOM states (Barbados and Guyana), accepting the CCJ as their final court of appeal. According to the CMC, Skerrit said the Privy Council has no value to the Caribbean people, and he urged countries to discontinue appeals to the British Privy Council.
The CCJ is the regional judicial tribunal which was officially inaugurated in 2005, as a substitution for the British Privy Council. The CCJ is designed to exercise both an appellate and an original jurisdiction.

March 16, 2009

CCJ... Burning issues for CARICOM leaders

EPA, world financial woes, CCJ... Burning issues for CARICOM leaders
Source: The Reporter
Published March 13, 2007

Belize this week played host to the Twentieth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday and Friday.

The meeting zeroed in on a number of issues affecting not only Caribbean nations, but also the Central American region.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is the current Chairman of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, in his remarks at the opening on Thursday, set the stage for what the two days of discussions were all about.

He told the gathering, which included heads of states from 11 Caribbean countries, as well as a representative from Nicaragua, that key issues such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, the global economic and financial crisis and the Caribbean Court of Justice are issues the region must renew its energy on so as to reaffirm the purpose CARICOM citizens both demand and deserve.

“The holding of this meeting here, at the western end of the CARICOM arc, is of special significance,” Barrow told the gathering.

“At a time when thinking big is a necessity, it helps to accentuate the scope and reach of our Community. It helps to underscore the ambition of our grand enterprise. But it also helps to dramatize the problems inherent in taming what can sometimes seem like this wild beast of Caribbean integration.”

The signing of the EPA, says the Prime Minister, “has been, to put it mildly, controversial. The implementation is already throwing up its own obstacles, Mr. Barrow noted.

Barrow described many aspects of the EPA, as time-bound, revisionism and second guessing over-rated commodities.

As to the global financial crisis, Barrow said, the need is for Caribbean leaders to be remindful of what integration was designed to achieve.

He referred to the Preamble to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which states the need to promote in the CARICOM Community the highest level of efficiency in the production of goods and services “especially with a view to liberalize foreign exchange earnings on the basis of international competitiveness, attaining food security, achieving structural diversification and improving the standard of living of peoples.....”.

The global financial crisis, says Barrow, has been “hovering above us like an incubus. To posit that it should act as a spur rather than a deterrent to consolidation of our CARICOM destiny is one thing. To actually manage our processes in such a way as to make the word flesh, is quite another,” he said.

As to the creation of a single integrated economic space, Barrow says this requires not only common approaches and common policies, but common bureaucratic and administrative procedures.

“And, inevitably, in the process of adjustment to increasing global competitiveness of the whole, the relative importance and performance of individual member states will change.”

The Caribbean Court of Justice, which has been a burning topic across the Caribbean, with only Guyana and Barbados so far opting to use it as their last court of appeal, is another matter Barrow says, he felt compelled to raise in his opening remarks.

“It represents a key element of the Community’s governance process, but so far only two countries use it as their final court of appeal in civil and criminal matters.

The significance of our apparent unwillingness to replace the Privy Council with our own first class jurists, is not lost on our population. It can’t help but contribute to cynicism about the seriousness of our commitment to Caribbean identity.

“I can hardly say this just to be a scold, since Belize is, in this matter, a guilty party. I introduce the subject, rather, in order to employ precept and example.” CARICOM Secretary General, His Excellency Edwin Carrington, who also spoke at Thursday’s opening ceremony, fleshed out the gravity of the global financial crisis, which he says is also affecting Caricom countries.

“There is no exaggeration to say that the meeting is being held at a time when the world “is in its greatest crisis in most of our lifetimes.”

The tourism industry is one of the hardest hit, noted Carrington. Remittances are also fast falling to pittance, he said.

“The energy sector, including its downstream industries, has also been adversely affected as both demand and prices have plummeted. It is difficult to imagine that just seven months ago, analysts were predicting oil prices to soar to U.S. $200 a barrel. Today they stand just over U.S. $40 a barrel.”Carrington will lead a team of CARICOM official to San Ignacio on Saturday March 14, to meet with residents from the area to discus the Caribbean Community.

The event starts at 4 in the afternoon at the Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio.

Belize to abolish appeals to Privy Council and join CCJ

Belize to abolish appeals to Privy Council and join CCJ
Published on Saturday, March 14, 2009
Print Version
By Oscar Ramjeet Caribbean Net News
BELIZE CITY, Belize: Belize will rid itself of the Privy Council and will accept the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court of appeal.

Belize Prime Minister, Dean BarrowThis announcement was made by the country's Prime Minister Dean Barrow when he addressed CARICOM leaders at the opening of the Twentieth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Belize City on Thursday.
Barrow, who was among the first batch of West Indian trained lawyers graduating in 1975 from the Caribbean Council of Education, said, "It is my intention to end Belize's hesitation to let go to the coat tails of the Privy Council and embrace the Caribbean Court of Justice as Belize's final appellate court, thereby enhancing our Caribbean identity."
The Prime Minister, who is also Chairman of CARICOM, added, "The significance of our apparent unwillingness to replace the Privy Council with our first class jurists is not lost on our populations. It can't help to contribute to cynicism about the seriousness of our commitment to Caribbean identity.”
Barrow admitted that his country should have abolished appeals to the Privy Council long ago when he said, "I can hardly say this just to be a scold, since Belize in this matter is one of the guiltiest parties. I introduce the subject rather in order to employ precept and example. I commend the merit of the court as a critical linchpin of our government, and I also undertake to propose shortly here at home, the constitutional amendment that would allow Belize to sign on to the appellate jurisdiction.”
He took over the Belize government 13 months ago after he defeated Said Musa's party. Musa is also an attorney, but was not interested in joining the regional court. Only Guyana and Barbados have so far accepted the CCJ, which was established in April 2005, as the final court of appeal.

March 12, 2009

UWI Professors Make the Case for the CCJ

UWI Professors Make the Case for the CCJ
posted (March 11, 2009)

A forum on the Caribbean Court of Justice began earlier this evening at the University of the West Indies Auditorium. Noted UWI Law Professors Simeon McIntosh and Winston Anderson are presenting papers making the case for the Caribbean Court of Justice. It’s a case and a cause that not many Caribbean nations have been taking up – and Professor Anderson – who is the Executive Director of the Caribbean Law Institute Center at UWI in Barbados - says they hope to demystify the CCJ.

Prof. Winston Anderson, Executive Director – Caribbean Law Institute “We want to achieve the purpose of demystifying what is required and to demonstrate in fact that it is a fairly simple procedure for moving from the Privy Council to the Caribbean Court of Justice, provided that the constitutional requirements are satisfied and we don’t believe there are any insurmountable difficulties in the way of satisfying those constitutional requirements. And as I said my colleague Professor McIntosh will be speaking more in terms of the philosophical reasons why it is so critical important that we own our jurisprudence, that we own our own courts.

We just find it very mystifying as to why other countries have not signed on, particularly because it is the case that these other countries are paying for the court. The court is up and running and we have a situation where the court is operating in Trinidad and Tobago, we have very eminent judges, very respected judges – they are deciding one or two cases that come before them. But the fact is that Belize is paying for them, Jamaica is paying for this, Trinidad and Tobago – all the other countries in the region – we are paying for this court and we’re not using the court.

But we think it is an opportune moment to dialogue with the new government, to dialogue with other stakeholders in Belize to get a sense as to how quickly we can move forward because this is something now that is past due, something that I think should have happened many years ago and certainly something that we hope that can happen in the very near future.

So we expect members of the legal fraternity to be here and we welcome their presence. But equal if no more crucially we want to have a presence of, for want of better words, ordinary Belizean people because this is in an attempt to engage them in the process of discussing the court, discussing the existence of the court, discussing the importance of the court and to have their views; to solicit from them what they think about the future and then to answer any kind of concerns that they may have as to how we go forward.”

Again the forum was scheduled to begin at the UWI auditorium at 5:30 this evening. For some context, the Caribbean Court of Justice is based in Trinidad and was inaugurated four years ago. It is fully functional but only Barbados and Guyana are using it as a court of last appeal.