December 29, 2010

Dancing away from the CCJ

Dancing away from the CCJ
Ex-St Lucia PM sees 'bleak future' for Caricom
Source: Jamaica Observer
Published: December 29, 2010

APPREHENSION over future leadership at the Georgetown-based Caribbean Community Secretariat has now grown to include the future of the Port-of-Spain-headquartered Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

In the case of the latter, current talk in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to dance away from accessing the CCJ in preference for establishing their own final appeal court has drawn a sharp rebuke from Dr Kenny Anthony, a former prime minister of St Lucia. He had played a key role in the formation of the CCJ when he headed the legal division of the Community Secretariat.

There will, therefore, be no formal handing over by the retired Carrington to his successor when Caricom leaders hold their scheduled first Inter-Sessional Meeting for 2011 in Grenada in February,With the surprise decision by Edwin Carrington to step down as Caricom secretary general at the end of this month after 18 years of service, Deputy Secretary General Lolila Applewaithe will begin acting as secretary general from January 1.

A new six-month chairmanship also begins next month when host for the coming Inter-Sessional Meeting in St George's, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas takes over from his Jamaican counterpart, Bruce Golding.

While he has been quite forthcoming in articulating Caricom's support for Haiti and speaking reassuringly about regional economic integration, it is Prime Minister Golding who, within recent weeks, has further contributed to deep concerns over the future of the CCJ.

As if seeking political cover under an idea initially raised in Trinidad and Tobago -- but yet to be advocated as official policy -- Prime Minister Golding is marketing an initiative for Jamaica to replace the Privy Council in London with its own final court of appeal.

With no known appetite for the CCJ, Golding and his Jamaica Labour Party (under earlier leadership as well), have long been ducking the challenge of accessing the regional court by linking such a move with the need for a national referendum

Read that proposition to mean, basically, more faith in the competence and integrity in the British law lords of the Privy Council than the fine legal minds this region has produced across member states, and with arduous efforts to ensure appointments free from the political influences so often talked about with respect to the functioning of local judiciaries.

The situation becomes even more intriguing when it is understood that a national referendum to replace the Privy Council is not really a necessity in the case of Jamaica, as it is in countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Further, various British law lords associated with the Privy Council have been urging former British colonies, like ours in Caricom, to initiate arrangements to break the dependency syndrome on the Privy Council.

How sad, in contrast, to hear Caricom leaders like Golding and his Trinidadian counterpart, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, talking about replacing the Privy Council with their respective final appeal court.

At the same time, they steadfastly avoid encouragement to access the CCJ -- as Barbados, Guyana and Belize have done -- with a court of original jurisdiction in resolving trade disputes as well as serving as the final appellate institution of the entire community.

In St, Lucia, Dr Anthony's expression of "surprise and bewilderment" came in his response to the emerging tactics, both in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, to push the idea of a final national court of appeal without any commitment to the CCJ.

Anthony, known for his robust advocacy of development of a West Indian jurisprudence, believes that if Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago persist in spreading the notion of individual final appeal courts it would strike a "lethal blow" to the furthering of any support for the CCJ.

He is bewildered by what he views as a "disingenuous" contention to avoid political influence in the case of the CCJ. If indeed, said Anthony, the CCJ "is susceptible to political influence -- as is being claimed in Jamaica, for instance, then how much more could a Jamaican (or T&T) final appeal court be affected by political manipulations?"

The prospect, therefore, as he lamented, for realising the full benefits of creating a Caribbean Community, as envisaged by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, "is becoming bleaker and bleaker if we cannot be committed to so compelling a case for region-wide endorsement of the CCJ.

December 23, 2010

PM suggests local final appeal court


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


PRIME Minister Bruce Golding yesterday raised the possibility of Jamaica establishing its own final appeal court as an option to the London-based Privy Council or the controversial Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), but held that his administration still believed that any decision on the matter must be put to a referendum.

"We wish to consider our own final court of appeal. We would respectfully wish that is something for which due consideration to be given," Golding said while closing debate in the Parliament on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms which will replace Chapter III of the present Constitution.

"It is something we wish to consider in great detail and in earnest. We believe we have the judicial experience, we believe we have the maturity to do it," Golding said.

The prime minister raised the point while rejecting suggestions from the Opposition People's National Party that the matter of a final appellate court should be settled along with the passage of the Charter. According to Golding, his administration had always held that "the adoption of a final court should be put to Jamaicans in a referendum".

"Take it to the people and let the people decide," he said. Pointing out that there were members of both the Government and Opposition in favour of the CCJ as the final court, Golding said "I don't think any of us in here must ever make the mistake of presuming that there is any consensus among the people of Jamaica on this, nor must we ever seek to assume that the majority of those people will vote in a particular way".

"If what we are depending on is a consensus among us that we go to the people and say both the JLP and PNP are urging you to vote in particular way after all the years of discussion and debate on this matter, what would that say to us? That it is political mobilisation," he added.

The prime minister's insistence followed on the contribution of Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller who said while her party had "always been anxious to support any step to move the process forward so that all citizens of Jamaica will begin to enjoy a wider span of fundamental rights", the matter of the adoption of the CCJ as the final court should also be settled.

"It would be good if it could be settled while our prime minister is chair of Caricom," she said. "Shame and embarrassment should drive us to do everything in our power to avoid a repeat of the authorities in Britain advising us that we have overstayed our welcome. Prime Minister, the Privy Council is asking us to leave, have we no shame? We will not rest in our push for the CCJ to become our final Court of Appeal."

Simpson Miller said that if this was not done, the debate on the Charter of Rights would signify nothing.

In a response which very nearly caused the House to descend into another of its by now familiar rows, Golding insisted "it is not our understanding that if you don't get the CCJ you can't get the Charter of Rights. That is something that remains on the table of discussion. I have indicated that the views of this side are not inflexible. We agree with the Opposition that ...we have to dispense with the Privy Council. We are not yet satisfied that in doing so we must... replace it with something else whose existence is not within (our control)".


December 01, 2010

CCJ to hear first Belize appeal on Monday
by Global News Staff
Source: Caribbean News Now
Published on November 26, 2010

BELMOPAN, Belize -- The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will hear the first appeal from Belize on Monday, and it will be an appeal that has regional interest and perhaps will create Caribbean jurisprudence, since it involves misfeasance or alleged misconduct by government ministers.

The appeal was filed by two ex-ministers of government, Florencio Marin, Sr. and Joe Coye, after the current Dean Barrow administration took them to court for nearly a million dollars in damages as part of a misfeasance lawsuit.

The Belize government initiated the suit against the two former ministers for $924,056, which the attorney general claimed government had lost in the sale of 56 acres of land.

Former Chief Justice Abdul Conteh dismissed the government's case after he raised a technical question of whether the government was pursuing the right kind of claim against the former ministers.

The former chief justice ruled that the attorney general cannot file a misfeasance action in the Supreme Court, but could have pursued the route of filing a malfeasance claim for criminal sanctions in the Magistrate's Court.

The attorney general successfully appealed to the Belize Court of Appeal, which ordered that the Supreme Court hear and determine the case filed by the government.

The two former ministers then appealed to the CCJ, which has replaced the Privy Council as the final court for Belize.

The appellants’ attorneys, as well as lawyers for the respondents (the Belize government), had a pretrial hearing via teleconference.

The president of the CCJ, Michael de la Bastide, is reported in the Amandala newspaper as saying, "I think this is a matter of great public importance -- that is whether the members of a government which has replaced by another government are liable to be sued by the attorney general on behalf of the state for loss which they have allegedly caused the state by their misconduct -- or their misfeasance to use the technical word -- while they were in office."

"This is a matter that I am sure is not only of great importance (I would have thought) to the people of Belize, but indeed to the people of this region," he added.

He noted that a CCJ ruling "...would be describing what the law is finally for a least some of the countries in CARICOM" and particularly for Barbados and Guyana, which are the only other two nations to have accepted the CCJ's full appellate jurisdiction.

Four Belizean lawyers will travel to Port of Spain for Monday's hearing.

Dr Elson Kaseka and Magali Marin-Young are appearing for the ex-ministers, while Lois Young SC and senior crown counsel Nigel Hawke of Guyana will represent the attorney general of Belize.

It is understood that the entire panel will sit to hear this important appeal: President de la Bastide, Justices Jacob Wit, Desiree Bernard, Adrian Saunders and Rolston Nelson.

September 10, 2010

Caribbean court of justice: a model for international courts?

Five-year-old CCJ has been praised for its process of selecting independent, high-quality judges

Source: Philip Dayle,

A book by UCL professors examining how judges are chosen for international courts has been getting a lot of attention recently. One of the authors has praised the process of selecting judges for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – a supra-national court serving the Caribbean.

Professor Kate Malleson names the CCJ's external selection body – called the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) – as a model for identifying independent and high-quality judicial candidates.

Born of a fear of political interference, the commission is chaired by the CCJ's president and consists of legal and non-legal persons, as well as members of civil society from different Caribbean member states. The court's bid to be independent of governments is bolstered by the fact that it is wholly financed through a trust fund, from money raised on international markets.

Structurally, the CCJ is an interesting hybrid. It is both a final appellate court for criminal and civil cases and the tribunal that resolves treaty disputes between member states. As an appellate court, it replaces appeals to the judicial committee of the privy council. The privy council was previously the UK supreme court, hearing matters as the final appellate authority, and still hears appeals from British territories, dependencies and some Commonwealth countries.

Though most of the CCJ judges previously sat at a national level, at least one member of the panel is required to be an expert in international law. This has favoured legal academics, particularly those with experience working with the Caribbean community (Caricom) system. One judge is also required to be from the civil law tradition, reflecting the presence of civil law jurisdictions such as Suriname and Haiti.

Unlike the international criminal court (ICC), the CCJ selection system does not include prescriptions to ensure gender balance or quotas for country representation. Judicial vacancies are advertised and suitably qualified candidates may apply.

As the two countries that have notoriously held off on submitting to the CCJ as a final court of appeal, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica each currently boast citizens on the CCJ's seven-member panel. In the five years since the inception of the CCJ, only one woman has been appointed to sit as a judge.

Tracy Robinson, senior lecturer in the law faculty at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill in Barbados, is not persuaded that this system ensures sufficient diversity: "In the absence of explicit provisions, I hope the under-representation of women on the court is directly addressed by the Service Commission [and] taken into account in the appointment of new judges". Early fears that the CCJ was set up by Caribbean governments to be the "hanging court", as the antidote to the privy council's supposed hostility towards the death penalty, has not materialised. In one of its first decisions, the court upheld a challenge to the death penalty, arguably in the liberal tradition of the privy council. Court watchers such as Robinson believe that the true test for the CCJ will come in civil liberties cases in areas other than the death penalty. It's in producing a range of these decisions, she argues, that the court is likely to establish itself as an authoritative voice in the region.

Maybe it's too early to judge the judges of the CCJ. The absence of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago has led to a paltry case load for a court that is hugely expensive to maintain. And without more robust public interest lawyering or arguing novel questions of law, the true mettle of the CCJ has not been tested. The jury is out on whether the court will be transformative in developing the jurisprudence of the region.

August 31, 2010

Kamla wants to opt out of Carib court

Carib Wise Men urge Kamla to go easy on CCJ

Published: Monday, August 30, 2010

Source: Caribbean Life News
In recent days, Kamla Persad-Bissesar, Trinidad and Tobago’s new head of government has given strong signals that that her People’s Partnership administration is unhappy with the high costs of hosting and maintaining the five-year-old Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and may take the issue of the country becoming a CCJ member to referendum.
The prime minister’s announcement, as she reviews decisions made by the past Patrick Manning administration, has sent political shock waves across the region, forcing some of its most prominent citizens or so-called “Wise Men” to urge authorities there not to take “retrogressive steps.”

They interpret her signals as retrogression because they fear a referendum could threaten the very existence of a court that was designed to replace British Privy Council as the region’s final court of appeal, a dream of several independence Caribbean leaders like Burnham, Williams and Manley.

As it stands now, only Guyana, Barbados and most recently Belize, subscribe to the CCJ as their final court of arbitration.

Its ironical that host, Trinidad,is not counted among them, nor is Jamaica and the smaller Eastern Caribbean sub-grouping. These either claim the need for referenda or the requirement of a two-thirds parliamentary vote to abandon the British, or both.

Persad-Bissesar’s recent remarks have also induced Opposition Leader Keith Rowley to come to the defense of the court and to defend the previous decision to lobby for Port of Spain as its headquarters.

“For the PNM, this is an issue of principle, not opportunism,” he said, pointing to the need for the region to complete its independence rather than having jurists far away in England determining the fate of regional citizens.

Ironically as well, the court was established while the prime minister’s predecessor and party leader, Basdeo Panday, was at the helm of government, but it seems as though the future of the court is being rendered as uncertain by the approach of the new administration.

The result as the Barbados Nation reported at the weekend, is that prominent Caribbean citizens: Sir George Alleyne, former head of the Pan American Health Organization, Sir Shridath Ramphal, former three-term Commonwealth secretary general and ex-Guyana foreign minister, retired Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, past CARICOMSecretary General Sir Alister McIntyre and Dominica’s President Nicholas Liverpool,have all banded together to issue a statement urging Trinidad to think again.

“We wish particularly to correct the inference that Trinidad and Tobago is carrying a disproportionate cost of the CCJ,” the regional “Wise Men” said in a joint release,noting that a regional trust fund was set up by leaders and framers to finance operations of the court, including judges’ salaries.

Trade-bloc member states are responsible for fundingspecific portions of the court’s costs, based on agreed criteria that includes GDP and population size.

Trinidad and Tobago is responsible for US$36.1M, Jamaica for US$28.7M, Barbados for US$13.5 M and Guyana for US$8.8M. The smaller Eastern islands and Belize are asked to come up with US$2.2M each.

The group also called for calm, saying that “any attempt to create a climate of hostility to the court by distortions in the country of the court’s location is serious in itself. When it is accompanied by suggestions of creating a national court of appeal in place of the CCJ, the implications for the people of the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, become stark and troubling,” they said as debate in Trinidad builds.

August 29, 2010

Rowley renews call to PP Govt:

Replace Privy Council with CCJ

Published: 28 Aug 2010

Source: Trinidad Guardian

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is renewing a call for the People’s Partnership (PP) Government to support the removal of the Privy Council as this country’s final court of appeal. He said T&T should honour its original promise to have the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal. The CCJ is headquartered in Port-of-Spain. Rowley made the call in his message to mark the observance of this country’s 48 anniversary of independence on Tuesday.

The CCJ was established to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final appellate court. Under then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, T&T had committed to accepting the CCJ as its final court of appeal but when his government lost power, there was a change of heart. Rowley said independence must mean more than giving national political independence. He said independence should also mean that nationals must be responsible for interpreting the laws of the land and arbitrating on issues impartially. “Independence must also mean giving full responsibility for this to nationals,” he added.

He said T&T had reneged on a promise to have the CCJ replace the Privy Council as the nation’s final court of appeal. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said recently that the people of T&T must decide via a referendum whether the CCJ would replace the Privy Council. Rowley said the politicians were “not more committed to the development of T&T than our jurists. To so imply is to cast an unwarranted slur on them.” He said accepting the CCJ as the country’s final court of appeal was long overdue. “For the PNM, this is an issue of principle, not opportunism,” he added. The CCJ was inaugurated in 2005 and also has an original jurisdiction. Guyana, Belize, Barbados and St Lucia have replace the Privy Council with the CCJ as their final court of appeal.

August 24, 2010

Dr. Archibald Re-Appointed to Caricom Regional Judicial & Legal Services Commission

Source: Virgin Island, Platinum News
Published August 24, 20010

Dr Joseph S. Archibald QC of St Kitts Nevis and the British Virgin Islands has been re-appointed for a second three-year term from 20 August 2010 as a Member of the Caricom Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission ( "the Commission") according to a letter dated 13 August 2010 from The Right Honourable Mr Justice de la Bastide TC, QC, the Chief Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission, pursuant to the provisions of the Caricom Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Commission.

The Commission appoints the Judges, and recommends the appointment of the Chief Justice, of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Members of the Commission, when travelling in the Caricom Region on Commission business, are granted privileges and immunities similar to those granted to Supreme Court Judges.

Dr Archibald was jointly nominated by the Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Bar Association as required by the said Caricom Agreement.

Dr Archibald is an International Lawyer who was Called to the Bar as a Barrister of Lincoln´s Inn in England fifty years ago in 1960 with a special Certificate in International Law; was appointed a Queen´s Counsel of the British Commonwealth thirty years ago in 1980; is a Member of the London Court of International Arbitrators; and is one of the three Patron Members of the Washington-based World Jurist Association.

August 05, 2010

Press Release - August 4, 2010


His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has notified the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community of his decision to step down from his position, effective 31 December 2010.

Mr. Carrington, a national of Trinidad and Tobago was appointed in 1992 - the sixth Secretary-General of the Community. He succeeded Mr. Roderick Rainford of Jamaica.

“It has been my privilege and honour to have been given the opportunity to serve the Region and its people in this capacity” said Mr. Carrington.

“These last 18 years as Secretary-General have been the pinnacle of my public service career. I have, despite the odds, done all I could to help create a viable and secure Community for All. It has been a period of important achievements as well as significant disappointments. I leave satisfied and confident however, that the Caribbean Community now has a solid platform on which to continue to build the integration movement,” the Secretary-General said

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to deal with some pressing family issues and to enjoy much more time with them. I pay them the highest tribute for their patience, understanding and tremendous support during this long and arduous journey”, Mr. Carrington added.

During his tenure, Mr. Carrington oversaw the revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the consequent transition of the Community from a Common Market to a Single Market in 2006. Under his Secretary-Generalship, the platform is also being set for eventual evolution of the Community to include a Single Economy - the framework for which Heads of Government have undertaken to create by 2015. Mr. Carrington’s term has also seen the establishment of a number of key institutions designed to put the integration process on a sound base, including the CCJ - Caribbean Court of Justice (2005); as well as CROSQ - the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (2002); the CCCCC - Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (2005); the CCC - CARICOM Competition Commission (2008); and the CDF – CARICOM Development Fund (2008).

Mr. Carrington, an economist by profession, first joined the then Commonwealth Caribbean Secretariat in 1970 as Chief of Economics and Statistics, rising to Director of Trade and Integration before being appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States in 1976. He was subsequently elected Secretary-General of the ACP in 1985, the only Caribbean national, to date, to have held that position. In acknowledgement of his outstanding service to the ACP, Carrington Hall at the ACP Secretariat (Brussels) is named in his honour.

On returning from Brussels in 1991, Mr. Carrington served as his country’s High Commissioner to Guyana before his appointment to his current position. Carrington is the longest serving Secretary-General of the Community in the service of which he has been the recipient of national awards from Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as well as from the Dominican Republic, Italy and Spain.

As Secretary-General of CARICOM, Mr. Carrington also served as Secretary-General of CARIFORUM (comprising all the Member States of CARICOM except Montserrat and comprising the Dominican Republic).

August 04, 2010

EVERYDAY LAW – Prerogative of mercy - Print Version

By: Cecil McCarthy

Source: Nation News

Published: August 4, 2010

IN LAST week’s article I discussed the doctrine of legitimate expectation as applied by the Caribbean Court of Justice in the case of Attorney General and others v Jeffrey Joseph and Lennox Boyce (“Joseph and Boyce”).

I will be returning to the subject of legitimate expectation in future articles.

However, in today’s column I wish to discuss the other significant issue that arose for determination in Joseph and Boyce; that issue is whether the prerogative of mercy by the Barbados Privy Council was subject to judicial review having regard to section 77(4) of the Barbados Constitution which provides as follows:

“The question whether the Privy Council has validly performed any function vested in it by the Constitution shall not be inquired into by any court.”

Charged jointly

In Joseph and Boyce, the facts were that Joseph and Boyce and two other men were charged jointly with the murder of a young man who was beaten to death. The four accused were given the option of pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The other accused opted to plead guilty of manslaughter. Joseph and Boyce refused this offer and stood trial for murder, and were both convicted and sentenced to death. Their appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council were dismissed.

They petitioned the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, alleging that Barbados violated its obligations under the American Convention of Human Rights.

Soon after the petitions were filed, the Barbados Privy Council (the body charged with the responsibility of advising the Governor General on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy) confirmed a previous decision not to recommend commutation of their sentence.

As a result, death warrants were read to Joseph and Boyce who then began proceedings alleging that the threatened execution was in contravention of their constitutional rights.

The CCJ held unanimously that the exercise of the prerogative of mercy was reviewable notwithstanding Section 77(4) of the Constitution referred to above.

One of the bases for review of the prerogative of mercy was procedural unfairness, which in the court’s view, was established in the case of Joseph and Boyce.

In the Third Edition of his book Commonwealth Caribbean Public Law, Professor Albert Fiadjoe of the University of the West Indies commented on the CCJ’s decision in respect of the reviewability of the prerogative of mercy in the following terms:

“This decision thus puts the nail in the argument which prevailed in 1966 when the Barbados Constitution became law – namely, that the exercise of the prerogative of mercy was not judicially reviewable, and that ousting the jurisdiction of the court could be valid.

“Thus, the Constitution would have been premised on the orthodox view that there was no possibility of the court’s powers under section 24 being applicable to any exercise of the prerogative of mercy, which was the exclusive preserve of the Governor General acting as directed by the Barbados Privy Council.

“But the court now says as did the Privy Council in Neville Lewis that, in the light of modern developments, the exercise of the prerogative of mercy is judicially reviewable and is not ousted by Section 77(4).”

Section 77(4) is an example of what is referred to as an “ouster clause”, a clause which seeks to exclude the court from reviewing the exercise of some power by a state body or official.

The response of the CCJ was that it will not be deterred, like previous decisions of the courts, by the presence of such a clause from inquiring into whether a body has performed its function in breach of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and in particular the right to procedural fairness.

The decision of the CCJ is very important for “death penalty jurisprudence”. It gives a condemned man another lifeline, which can be of great significance when one considers the strict five-year time-line that has been established by the decision in Pratt and Morgan.

•Cecil McCarthy is a Queen’s Counsel. Send your letters to: Everyday Law, The Nation, Fontabelle, St Michael. Send your email to

July 11, 2010

Don’t blame the people for the Caribbean’s failures
Source: The Voice SLU
Publication Date: June 10, 2010

Some leaders of countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) often suggest that the slow progress of regional integration is due to a lack of “trust and understanding” among the people.

Certainly this was a view expressed by Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, at the opening of the 31st CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Jamaica. Interestingly Golding also said that integration also requires “building trust and understanding” among the leaders themselves.

He is right on both counts. But, if the people of CARICOM countries lack trust and understanding of the benefits of regional integration, the blame lies with the leaders.

Over the last 20 years of CARICOM’s existence, the people of the region have been fed a regular diet of CARICOM bashing in the media. That bashing was – and is – conducted by CARICOM leaders. The media simply report it.

Instead of resolving trade disputes at the table of quiet diplomacy, government representatives choose to amplify them with heated exchanges through the media, creating the impression that CARICOM’s trade arrangements don’t work fairly. Yet, the CARICOM Treaty provides for the amicable settlement of disputes through consultation with recourse to the Caribbean Court of Justice only a last resort.

New governments in CARICOM do not appear to be immune from the virus of injudicious public statements. Thus, the new Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persaud-Bissessar, declared publicly that her country was not an “ATM machine” from which other CARICOM countries could draw money as they want it.

Such statements would not endear Trinidad and Tobago to the rest of the CARICOM countries, nor would it encourage citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to regard other CARICOM citizens with anything but contempt.

In reality, the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and other CARICOM countries, particularly the smaller nations of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), is far more mutually beneficial than is conveyed by the analogy of the “ATM machine”. Other CARICOM countries are a lucrative and protected market for Trinidad and Tobago’s manufactured products and financial services under the CARICOM Treaty. Were it not for their membership of CARICOM, these countries could purchase most of what they buy from Trinidad and Tobago at cheaper prices elsewhere in the world.

Barbados, too, benefits significantly from the export of goods and services to CARICOM. It is Bardados largest area for exports. This is one of the reasons why the Barbados government was concerned with the intention of the previous Patrick Manning government in Trinidad and Tobago to forge an economic union with the members of the OECS.

The point is that membership of CARICOM is not a one-way street, nor indeed is it a one-way street only for the marketing of goods and services. Of equal importance is the bargaining strength which collective negotiations in the international community bring to each of the countries individually.

But, little credit is given to the benefits of regional cooperation. It is seldom, if at all, mentioned by governments in their parliaments or in their media conferences.

The impression left in the minds of the people is that CARICOM is a useless organisation that brings no benefit to them, and that they would be better off shedding it and dealing with the world on their own.

Of course, leaders know better.

That is why none of them have abandoned CARICOM, and more recent leaders, such as Bruce Golding, have significantly altered the almost hostile attitude to CARICOM with which they started out.

There are a multitude of crucial matters that CARICOM countries cannot manage on their own and for which each of them needs to be bolstered by the collective effort of all. Dealing with drug trafficking is one example. There are myriad others such as coping with the effects of natural disasters and bargaining with the international community.

Serious observers within the Caribbean and many more, including governments and international financial institutions, had hoped that the recent summit would address two matters with the gravity and urgency they deserved and so reinvigorate regional integration and reignite interest – if not passion – for it among the Caribbean people and the wider world.

The first is the twin issues of governance and implementation of decisions by CARICOM. Having laboured over the matter since 1992 when the West Indian Commission recommended the creation of a Caribbean Commission (similar to the European Union Commission), leaders pondered it yet again at the Jamaica meeting only to appoint a fifth group to consider the matter and report in February of next year. This new group consists of seven Heads of Government – all of whom are busy with the demands of their domestic constituencies. They are to be advised by a technical group who will have to be miraculously inspired to generate anything more sound than the numerous studies already produced on this matter.

What is certain is that the leaders do not want a Caribbean Commission similar to the European Commission. They have said so. It is reported that they are toying with the idea of a Council of Ambassadors similar to the weak mechanism adopted by the members of the OECS in their yet to be operationalised Economic Union Treaty. Such a mechanism – nationalistic in its composition and representation – would be nothing more than a further layer of delay in decision-making. It would have to await the consent of the most reluctant country to proceed.

The second issue on which urgent action was reasonably expected from the Jamaica summit was a plan to recover from the global financial and economic crisis.

A flame of hope flickered momentarily when the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Dominique Strauss-Kahn, “agreed to review the issue of special and differential treatment” for Caribbean’s small states.

But, no CARICOM government alone and not all of them collectively can turn Strauss-Khan’s “review” to “commitment”. CARICOM requires the best brains in government, the private sector, the trade union movement and the academic community from throughout the region to devise a plan that could command international respect and action.

It would have been hugely beneficial if the Conference had mandated the assembly of such a Caribbean team under a High Representative (otherwise known as a Commissioner) tasked to produce a plan using as a basis the work of three separate task forces that governments commissioned over the last year. Alas, this did not happen.

The people of the Caribbean remain caught in a long tunnel of stagnation with no end in sight. They should not be blamed for the region’s failures.

June 17, 2010

EDITORIAL- Mr Golding and the CCJ

Published: Thursday | June 17, 2010
Source: Jamaica Gleaner

It is perhaps more than symbolic that the Jamaican authorities had no objection that Governor General Sir Patrick Allen this week administered the oath of office to Professor Winston Anderson as a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), and that Prime Minister Bruce Golding spoke in appreciative, though measured, terms of the performance of the CCJ in its five years.

The decisions of the court, Mr Golding said, had inspired confidence and the justices in their rulings had "sought to lay a foundation on which the future of the court can be built".

If we are right, Mr Golding's posture had to do with more than the fact that Justice Anderson, until lately the executive director of the Caribbean Law Institute in Barbados, is a Jamaican of whom the prime minister is understandably proud.

It seems likely that Mr Golding will at next month's summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders indicate that his government has completed its re-evaluation of Jamaica's absence from the court and is now ready to begin to plan its accession. That is the difficult bit.

Vehement opposition

The governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), under Golding's leadership and before, used to be vehemently opposed to the CCJ in its role as the court of last resort in criminal and civil matters.

Although they did not always express it this frankly, an underlying theme of those who opposed the court was mistrust for the moral fibre and the intellectual and jurisprudential acumen of regional judges. The more openly expressed concern, however, was for the independence of the CCJ, which the party continued to advance even after it was clear that the court was insulated against political intrusions.

Mr Golding's party guided a successful constitutional challenge at the Privy Council against Jamaica's participation in the CCJ as was then contemplated. The PM, though, would have had his mind concentrated by last October's complaint by Lord Nicholas Phillips, the chief justice of Britain's new Supreme Court, that Privy Council cases occupied too much of the time of his judges. He hinted at farming out some of these cases to judges of lower courts.

The JLP's retreat from its former positions may cause Mr Golding political discomfiture. More problematic, however, is how he manages the accession to the CCJ - assuming this is the course being contemplated - given the Privy Council's ruling that the CCJ first has to be constitutionally entrenched before it can be a superior court to Jamaica's Court of Appeal. This would require special parliamentary majorities and, ultimately, a referendum.

Standing Parliamentary committee

That seems doable. The People's National Party's is supposed to be a strong supporter of the CCJ, which it had a major hand in fashioning when it formed the government. But strange things happen in politics.

Which is why we repeat our suggestion for the establishment of a standing parliamentary committee on security, legal and justice matters, through which there can be constant cross-party dialogue on critical issues - including the CCJ. Additionally, there is probably the need for a summit between Mr Golding and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller to start to thaw the political freeze that has continued for too long.

Additionally, Mr Golding should unveil any new thinking on the CCJ to the Jamaican people before he takes it to CARICOM.

May 27, 2010

On The Other Hand - Mandatory death penalty

Published on: 5/23/2010. Source: Nation News


LET'S CLEAR UP some misconceptions about Barbados' mandatory imposition of the deathpenalty for murder and the Inter-American Courtof Human Rights.

First, the facts.

The American Convention On Human Rights hastwo competent organs to ensure that the provisions of the convention are respected: the commission,which investigates alleged abuses of human rights,and the court, which is the authoritative interpreterof the convention.

Barbados signed the convention in 1978, ratifiedit in 1982, and accepted the jurisdiction of the court in 2000, thereby undertaking to abide by the convention and the court's rulings.

Article 4 of the convention states that "every person has the right to have his life respected . . . .No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life".

Nevertheless, Article 4 allows states parties that have maintained the death penalty to apply it, subject to certain restrictions.

The issue between the court and Barbados, however, is not the death penalty.

The issue is the finding of the commission, agreed to by the court in a landmark judgment in June 2002, that mandatory imposition of the death penalty for murder constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life and is therefore a violation of Article 4.

The argument of the commission and court, whether you agree with it or not, is straightforward and reflects a growing international consensus.

They maintain that because execution of the death penalty is irreversible, the state imposing the penalty must observe the strictest and most rigorous application of judicial guarantees to ensure those guarantees are not violated and a human life is not arbitrarily taken as a result. The mere existenceof these guarantees in a state is not enough.

One must be satisfied that the standards of these laws are rigorously applied in each and every case.

And here is the crux of the issue. The mandatory imposition of the death penalty on each individual guilty of murder "treats all persons convictedof a designated offence not as uniquely individual human beings, but as members of a faceless, undifferentiated mass to be subjected to the blind infliction of the death penalty".

Moreover, the judge is robbed of all discretionas to whether the death penalty is the appropriate punishment or not in the specific circumstancesof both the act and the offender. The judge is mandated to impose the death penalty, thus excluding both the possibility of determining individualized sentences arising from mitigating circumstances, and of creating a rational and proportional relation between the offender, the crime and the punishment.

Consequently the commission and the court have held that the imposition of the mandatory death penalty in such circumstances renders it an inhuman and unjust punishment, constituting a violationof Articles 4(1), 4(2), 5(1), 5(2), and 8(1) in relationto Article 1(1) of the convention.

Ironically, the mandatory imposition of the death penalty has led juries in the Caribbean occasionallyto acquit offenders accused of murder, even whenthere was a preponderance of evidence in favourof guilt, because jurors considered death to bean excessive punishment in the circumstances of the particular case.

Another irony is that if we did not havein our Constitution the "savings clause" that protects inhumane, colonial, laws from constitutional challenge, our own courts would undoubtedly find mandatory imposition of the death penalty unconstitutional.

The Government of Barbados has a choice:

Do the right thing, abolish mandatory sentencing and trust in the wisdom of our judges to imposethe appropriate sentence.

This will preserve Barbados' international reputation as a sophisticated, enlightened democracy fully observant of human rights - an invaluable asset in a country seeking to be a global centrefor tourism and international business.

Or do the ignoble thing, listen to the yahoosamong us, denounce the convention and make Barbados look like some poor-rakey turd-worldstate insecure in its sovereignty.

* Peter Laurie is a retired diplomatand a commentator on social issues.

May 12, 2010

Belize to join Caribbean Court of Justice, leave colonial-era British Privy Council

Date Published May 11, 2010

Source - Associated Press

(AP) — The government of Belize says it will stop sending appeals cases to the colonial-era British Privy Council starting June 1.

The order announced by the office of Prime Minister Dean Barrow brings Belize's appeals processes into line with the country's constitution.

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice will hear all Belize court appeals filed after May 31.

Barrow's office said Tuesday the change is "a major landmark" for the nation.

The London-based Privy Council long served as the highest court of appeal for many former British colonies. But many of those nations are removing themselves from the jurisdiction of the council, which is made up of members of Britain's House of Lords

April 08, 2010

CCJ dismisses TCL contempt filing against Guyana

Source Stabroek staff Published : April 1, 2010 |

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Monday dismissed contempt proceedings against Guyana filed by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and a subsidiary company, which arose last year when this country failed to reinstate the CET on extra-regional cement following an order of the court.

When its judgment was read, the CCJ also dismissed the claims for orders relating to civil contempt against Attorney General, Charles Ramson SC. The CCJ held that it had no jurisdiction to make any such finding against Guyana, but it also noted that no claim for such a finding of contempt against this country had been made either in the original or amended application of the applicants; TCL and its subsidiary, TCL Guyana Incorporated (TGI).

In its ruling, the CCJ said the oral claim against Guyana was not properly raised and so it was not entertained. However, it was noted that on January 8, 2010, almost four months after the grace period fixed by the Order had expired, Guyana reinstated the CET in respect of all non-CARICOM cement imported here. The CCJ did grant a declaration that Guyana was in breach of Article 215 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which mandates CARICOM member states to comply with judgments of the CCJ promptly.

With respect to the claims against the Attorney General, the Court ruled a coercive order should not be made against someone who is not a party to the proceedings. It said there was no evidence that the AG here was personally responsible for the breach of the Order, or that the AG, as a non-party, was responsible in his official capacity for the reinstatement and maintenance of the CET on cement from non-CARICOM sources.

TCL had applied for leave to amend its application to include a claim for the declaration that Guyana was in breach of Article 215 and the Court granted leave after Guyana had no objections. Counsel for Guyana later resisted the claim, saying that since the amendment had only been granted after the Order of August 20, 2009 had been complied with, the question of whether Guyana was in breach of Article 215 was academic. Counsel argued that Courts were reluctant to grant declarations that served no useful purpose.
In breach

Trinidad and Tobago, in its submissions as a State Party invited to join the discussion, accepted that the Court could find a State Party to be in breach of obligations in Article 215 to comply with the Court’s judgment promptly. The CCJ found that there was ample evidence that Guyana did not comply promptly, noting that this country’s application for an extension of time for compliance with the Order was an admission that it had not complied.

In its submissions, Guyana had contended that the Order of Court was “not without some indicative element of equivocation.” Counsel for Guyana had argued that it was not the Order that re-imposed the CET. Counsel said also that the Order left Guyana free to “implement” or “complete” the CET and to “maintain” the CET “only from that date,” i.e. the date of reinstatement. But the Court said this was disingenuous, pointing to a November 13, 2009 case management conference where counsel for Guyana conceded that the country was in breach and continued to be in breach of the Order by restricting the application of the CET to imports of non-CARICOM cement ordered after October 15, 2009. The Court said its emphasis was on cement imported and CET collected after September 17, 2009 and it held that there was no ambiguity in the Order and that Guyana’s breach of it was unlawful.

The case against Guyana raised significant issues and triggered an interesting discussion at the level of the Court; it also resulted in critical submissions from Trinidad and Tobago, after an invitation was extended to state parties to make written and oral submissions on the question of civil contempt of Court issues.

What emerged from the discussions was that there is need for a protocol amending the Revised Treaty, to make clear what forms of contempt the Court can deal with and what sanctions it can impose on those whom it holds in contempt. In the interim, the Court said it will express only provisional views on such matters in the hope that “the difficulties of interpretation which emerge will be eliminated by an appropriate protocol to the Revised Treaty.”

The Court pointed to several questions which arose during its deliberations and out of the submissions canvassed before the court. It questioned what is the meaning of “contempt of court” in the context of Article 26 of the CCJ Agreement and whether the agreement give the Court jurisdiction to entertain proceedings for civil contempt. The Court also pondered, among other issues what impact, if any, does municipal legislation incorporating the CCJ Agreement have on the jurisdiction of the Court.

No inherent jurisdiction

The concept of civil contempt (disobedience of court orders) as an affront to the court is not known in the civil law and the question arose as to whether civil contempt exists in international law. The Court said that even though civil contempt was unknown to international law, states may confer that power on a tribunal by agreement. The CCJ noted in his judgment that ‘contempt of court’ is a common law concept that has no equivalent in the civil law system. It stated that even if the civil contempt of court were recognized, on the international plane it is evident that the common law concept of contempt of court must undergo some metamorphosis if it is to operate in a different setting “within the basic structure of the international community.” It said further, that in non-criminal cases the common law sanctions for contempt of court, i.e. (1) imprisonment; (2) sequestration; and (3) fines, may have to be adapted to take account of the fact that the states are the defendants and cannot be imprisoned, and that regional international courts, have no tipstaff or goals except where treaties provide so.

The CCJ continued: “When one transplants civil contempt of court into the international arena among nation states, the primary sanction is a declaratory finding of contempt or non-compliance with the Court’s order.” It noted in the result that such a declaration is similar to the one available under Article 215 of the Revised Treaty (where the obligation is to comply promptly).

However, the CCJ found that no express power to entertain contempt proceedings is granted in Article 26 of the CCJ agreement. Further, it pointed out that one could not extrapolate from the ad hoc international criminal tribunal cases that international courts have an inherent jurisdiction in civil contempt in non-criminal cases.

The CCJ panel included Justices Michael de la Bastide, who is the President of the Court, together with Justice Nelson; Justice Saunders; Justice Wit and Justice Hayton.

The applicants were represented by Dr C Denbow, SC appearing with D Denbow, D Rohlehr and K De Freitas; the respondent by Kamal Ramkarran and Trinidad and Tobago by Douglas Mendes SC along with M Quamina, E Pierre, G Jankey and S Ramhit.

March 30, 2010

Professor Anderson to replace Justice Duke Pollard

Jamaican appointed Judge in CCJ

Source: Kaieteur News
MARCH 30, 2010

…as Justice Duke Pollard retires

By Oscar Ramjeet

The Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) has appointed a Jamaican as the newest judge in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

He is Professor Charles Anderson, an academic who replaces Guyanese Justice Duke Pollard, who goes into retirement on June 10 next, when the new judge will assume duties.

Justice Anderson is the first Jamaican to be appointed to the regional court. The omission of a judge from Jamaica, the most populated in the Anglophone Caribbean, has been criticized, especially since that country contributes 27 per cent of the costs to run and administer the Court.

Former Attorney General of Jamaica, Dr. Osward Harding, who is now the President of the Senate, had indicated to me two years ago that several highly qualified Jamaicans, including a few outstanding Senior Counsel were overlooked five years ago.

Now that that a Jamaican has been appointed as a Judge, one wonders if this will accelerate the powers to be in Kingston to join the Appellate Division of the Court.

Justice Pollard’s appointment in the regional court was criticised in some quarters since he was never in active law practice, never served as an advocate either as Counsel or prosecutor and never sat as a judge. He has been an academic throughout his legal career and was involved in preparatory work for the establishment of the CCJ.

The tenure of CCJ judges is 72 years, but Pollard was given a three-year extension two and a half years ago.

Since Justice Anderson’s appointment was criticised, legal practitioners want to know why the RJLSC chose a law professor rather than an experienced judge.

Justice Anderson holds a law degree from the University of the West Indies and a Doctorate in Philosophy (Phd) in international law from the University of Cambridge. For most of his career, he has been a member of the Law Faculty of UWI.

He was appointed lecturer in 1994, senior lecturer in 1999 and was made professor in 2006. He spent a year as a Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield between ‘1994 and 1995, and a year as senior lecturer on fellowship at the University of Western Australia in 1996. He is currently the executive director of the Caribbean Law Institute Centre (CLIC).

Professor Anderson and Professor Simeon Mc Intosh were involved during the past two years travelling around the Caribbean participating in seminars promoting the CCJ, and urging governments to join the Appellate Division of the Regional Court.

The lone female judge in the Court, Desiree Bernard, who was Chief Justice and former Chancellor of Guyana will reach the age of retirement in March next year, and already there are discussions in the legal circle whether she will be given an extension, and if not, whether another female will be appointed to replace the distinguished Guyanese.

Justice Bernard had many firsts in her homeland - the first female judge, first female Court of Appeal Judge, first female Chief Justice, first female Chancellor of Guyana and first female Head of the Judiciary in the Caribbean.

She is also the first Solicitor to be appointed a Judge, the reason being that the legal profession in Guyana was fused in 1979 and Justice Bernard, a practising Solicitor, automatically became an Attorney at Law since both Solicitors and Barristers were known as Attorneys as of November 1979.

Justice Bernard was appointed a High Court Judge in 1980. I recall writing a piece in the local newspapers under the headline “High time for a female Judge in Guyana” and I suggested her appointment although she was from the practising Bar, and the following week she was named.
Belize will soon be on board as the third jurisdiction to join, and I look forward for Dominica, and Jamaica to do so soon rather than later. I am also hopeful that Trinidad and Tobago will consider joining now that there is a new opposition leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar, a West Indian trained attorney who served as Attorney General under the Basdeo Panday administration.

March 22, 2010

Commentary: Delay in joining CCJ is amazing
Published on Monday, March 22, 2010 By Oscar Ramjeet
Source: Caribbean Net New

As Belize is about to join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court, one of the seven judges and the Court Registrar visited the country and held discussions with local judges and explained the Rules and Procedure of the regional court with practising lawyers.

Their visit coincided with a farewell sitting for Appellate Court Judge, Jamaican-born Boyd Carey.

Justice Adrian Saunders, who was involved in drafting the Rules of the CCJ and Registrar, Dawn Pierre, explained to more than three dozen lawyers at a workshop on Saturday, the rules and procedures to be followed in filing appeals to the regional court.

Belize is the third CARICOM country to get rid of the Privy Council as the final Court, and the first to do so since its establishment, when only two countries, Guyana and Barbados, went on board. It baffles me why the other member states are hesitant and/or reluctant to do so, especially countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, which were in the forefront in the setting up of the Court. However, I have been reliably informed that Dominica is in the process of making preparations to join, but that country is now experiencing parliamentary setback since the opposition party is boycotting parliament, claiming irregularities at the last general elections.

Jamaica as well as St Lucia are also considering joining in the near future. The Patrick Manning administration in Trinidad and Tobago is all in favour of the regional court, but in order for that country to join it must get the support of the Opposition, since it requires two thirds of the vote, and the then opposition leader, Basdeo Panday, was not in favour of the move. However, now that there is a new leader of the opposition UNC, in Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is a West Indian- trained attorney, it is likely there will be a change in that regard.

The CCJ has been established since February 14, 2001, by an agreement signed by a dozen regional governments on February 15, 2003, but the inauguration took place nearly five years ago on April 15, 2005.

The Court has not heard many cases in its Appellate jurisdiction since only two of the 12 countries have accepted the CCJ as the final appellate court, and this is very unfortunate since the Port of Spain based Court has the best court facilities on the planet. I was privileged to visiting the Court and was impressed with what I have seen - besides the well equipped libraries, spacious conference room, robing room etc. I was elated with the court room appearance, with the most modern telephonic and fascinating equipment. The facilities include: A document Reader/Visual Presenter: Ability to use laptop computers, DVF/VCR: Audio/Video Digital Recording (microphones situated throughout the courtroom) ; wireless internet access, and audio/video transcripts.

International jurists who have visited the CCJ and read its judgments generally have a high opinion of the court. One of them, Francis Jacobs, a Privy Councillor and former Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, said that the CCJ is of a high calibre and would be able to take account of local values and develop a modern Caribbean jurisprudence in an international context. He also took a swipe at some Caribbean leaders when he said, "It is regrettable that political difficulties have obstructed acceptance of its Appellate jurisdiction and that the outdated jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council survives for many of those states.

One of the most respected Caribbean jurists, Dominican born Telford Georges, said before his death that he regarded it as a "compromise of sovereignty" for us to remain wedded "to a court which is part of the former colonial hierarchy, a court in the appointment of whose members we have absolutely no say."

I sincerely hope that steps will soon be taken by those countries that have not yet joined will do so as soon as possible.

March 21, 2010

The Caribbean Court of Justice and the Legal Profession:

Promoting a Caribbean Jurisprudence

Author: Justice Adrian Saunders

Published in: Commonwealth Law Bulletin Vol 33 Is. 4 December 2007


The author submits that the main purpose in the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is to promote the development of a Caribbean jurisprudence, based on the Commonwealth Caribbean's common historic, political, economic and cultural experiences and mutual history.

The article examines the role of final appellate courts, noting that judges of such courts must often choose between alternatives which are perfectly capable of being defended as rational, reasonable and consistent with 'the law'. Factors such as life experiences, socialisation, and backgrounds all play a role in determining the choices that are ultimately made. This is why, the author underscores that 'it is so important to have a diverse Bench, to have Judges from different backgrounds'.

For judges to come close to steering the right course they must have an understanding of the society that gives rise to the legal disputes. They must be grounded in that society. In this respect, the author argues, it is remarkable that the evolution of certain landmark judgments relating to human rights, particularly capital punishment, have been rendered by British judges, sitting and residing in England.

The article, which draws on a wealth of jurisprudence, proceeds to examine the original jurisdiction of the CCJ and the role of the Bar in defending the integrity of the Court and the justice system as well as in enhancing the quality of judgments.

Finally, it emphasises the need to promote Caribbean jurisprudence and access to local judgments. In this regard, it is lamented that many truly outstanding judgments of Caribbean judges do not receive the recognition they should because, if there is an appeal, they become almost automatically buried beneath the judgments of the higher court.

* This is an adaptation of an address given to the Eastern Caribbean Bar Association on 21 September 2007, in Grenada

March 20, 2010

Guyana prosecutors now allowed to appeal verdicts
Source: Associated Press
Published : 2010-03-20
Legislators have approved a bill that will for the first time let prosecutors appeal verdicts and allow police to immediately re-arrest suspects in this South American country.

Prosecutors can appeal all the way to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice _ the highest judicial body for much of the region _ but opposition leaders and attorneys said they will challenge the bill.

"Given the pace at which our courts work, this could mean a virtual lifetime in prison for some offenders who win their cases," opposition lawmakers Khemraj Ramjattan said Friday.

The state can now appeal jury acquittals for murder, treason, sexual offenses, piracy, carjacking and drug trafficking cases, among others. Ramjattan said attorneys are researching whether such actions are allowed in other former British colonies.

Legislators who approved the bill late Thursday said the state wants the right to appeal decisions in cases where there might have been trial irregularities, misdirection from a judge or suppression of evidence.