January 20, 2016

Public education programme on CCJ to start in March

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Consultative Committee spearheading preparations for a nation-wide public education and sensitization programme ahead of the referendum on whether Antigua and Barbuda should join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says the programme will be launched on March 10.
Head of the Committee, Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry, says “work is in full gear” to ensure that the public education programme meets with the objective of informing citizens on the move by the government to move away from the London-based Privy Council, which serves as the island’s highest court.
Henry said that invitations had been sent to Caribbean Community (CARICOM chairman and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, as well as the prime ministers of St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada; the President of Guyana and Premier of Montserrat to attend and participate in the formal launch ceremony at which Prime Minister Gaston Browne will deliver the feature address.
He said the Committee has also invited prominent Barbadian jurists Sir David Simmons, Sir Henry Forde and Richard Chetanham to participate in the public education campaign.
“Plans also include visits to Barbuda for consultations with key groups including the Barbuda Council, the Barbuda representative, Arthur Nibbs, the leadership of the Barbuda People’s Movement, as well as church leaders. There will also be a Youth Forum specifically for the youth of Barbuda as well.”
Last Thursday, Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams, delivering the tradition Throne Speech at the start of a new parliament term, said that the government is committed to making the CCJ its highest Court.
He said the issue should be a bipartisan affair, but warned that any attempt to politicize the process could derail plans to move ahead with the campaign.
Henry who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, said  the Committee has “been busily putting together a draft public education campaign strategy that will seek to educate and inform the general public surrounding the CCJ and the Privy Council.
“I wholeheartedly welcome this latest indication of the pending referendum. The government has stated its position and I can advise that we are in the advance stages of our planning for what will be an extensive all-embracing comprehensive public education exercise.
“We will be education, informing, listening and sharing with all in the society; the electorates will be specially targeted; the private and public sectors, civil society, the Opposition, trade unions, and the Bar Association will be among the focus groups down for engagements which hopefully should run in earnest for approximately four months”, he said.
Henry said the inaugural meeting of the Consultative Committee will take place shortly to discuss the draft campaign strategy as well as the other plans ahead of the referendum.
“Already discussions have been held with the Chairman and other members of the Electoral Commission, several groups and potential partners who will be playing a key role in the public education process and management of the referendum.
‘Our draft plan includes focus group discussions; town hall meetings; the establishment of a  website in association with technicians within the Ministry of Telecommunications; engage all forms of media in a massive campaign as well as the publication of a magazine and flyers for distribution,”  Henry said.
He said the official launch, which is expected to be an all-day affair, will also include a public sector Forum.
The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories of the Original Jurisdiction of the Court, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to its Appellate Jurisdiction.
The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member grouping.

Published in the Jamaica Observer, 
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/pfversion/Public-education-programme-on-CCJ-to-start-in-March#ixzz3xp9fDEHU

January 13, 2016

More territories might join the CCJ this year

More territories might join the CCJ this year
Dear Editor,
We are in a new year and am certain before the end of December at least three more countries will abolish appeals to the Privy Council and accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal. Others will soon follow.
The CCJ was established on February 12, 2001, and inaugurated on April 16, 2005, and so far only four countries ‒ Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Dominica ‒ have severed ties with the London based Privy Council, and despite several promises and commitments by other governments there is an inordinate delay in the others coming on board. However, recent developments lead me to believe that Jamaica, St Lucia, and Grenada will soon become full-fledged members of the regional court.
Jamaica with a population of more than 2.5 million has recently passed three pieces of legislation, paving the way for such a move, and its Foreign Affairs Minister, AJ Nicholson, said there was no turning back.
He told lawmakers that there is no need for a referendum to decide the issue. He said, “Let us tear down this referendum wall.” He disclosed that none of the 41 countries that left the Privy Council and established their own courts had gone the referendum route.
St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Kenny Anthony, has always been an advocate for the regional court and so has Grenada Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, and now that a legal opinion has been issued by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court that a referendum is not required for those two countries to rid themselves from the Privy Council, moves have been made in this regard.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on constitutional reform for a bi-partisan approach. The MOU was signed in the presence of the President of the CCJ, Sir Denis Byron, who was Chief Justice of the ECSC.
The new Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, is also in favour of the regional court since he questioned his predecessor, Kamla Persad Bissessar about why she only wanted to go half way ‒ abolishing appeals to the Privy Council in criminal matters alone.
Fourth term Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines is a strong advocate of the CCJ, but his attempt to join the court failed in a referendum. He might pursue it after he settles into his new term, and the St Kitts/ Nevis Prime Minister will also be encouraged to join.
Yours faithfully,
Oscar Ramjeet

Article from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2016/opinion/letters/01/12/territories-might-join-ccj-year/

Adjournments blamed for CCJ court delays

Adjournments blamed for court delays
ANTOINETTE CONNELL, antoinetteconnell@nationnews.com

No case should be pending for ten years, and something must be done about the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) constant criticism of Barbados’ drawn-out justice system, says new High Court judge Pamela Beckles.
She blamed the clogging of the system on judicial officers taking too long to give decisions, lack of police files and too many adjournments. 
“I have a problem with reserving decisions for too long because if you wait for so long, you can’t remember although you have your evidence book.
“All of us are responsible for this delay – the judicial officer, the defence counsel, the accused. It is something we have to deal with. We have to do something about that criticism we keep getting from the Caribbean Court of Justice. There is no way no case should be in the system ten years; I don’t care what type of case it is.”
Please read the full story in today's Daily Nation, or in the eNATION edition.

January 11, 2016

New CARICOM Chair, PM Dean Barrow shares plan

By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Dean Barrow took over the chairmanship of CARICOM this week, emphasizing on the major issues facing the Caribbean in the year to come.
Barrow expressed optimistism over the prospects the Caribbean has, amidst the economic crisis most Caribbean countries face. He stated the economic challenges might be “the sternest economic test that our member states have had to face in recent memory.”
He noted that elevating the standard of living of member states’ civilians has been a challenge for the region, as most countries have faced an increase in foreign debt and poverty this year.
Under his leadership, Barrow, hopes the Caribbean will build economic, environmental, social and technological resilience to foster sustainable development.
The Prime Minister’s priority is on the issue of consolidation and he expressed hope that during his year of leadership, the arrangements made for Caribbean unity will be revised with the hope of making them more effective. Regional unity continues as a resounding message for Caribbean leaders.
Barrow highlighted the achievements the region enjoyed, making reference to the success of the Caribbean’s input at the COP21 and other achievements over the past years. He said these are benchmarks in keeping together as a region.
The leader of the country also mentioned the importance of the Caribbean Court of Justice, especially to shape identity and regional unity. He says he believes that having a regional appellate reflects on the level of intellectuality in the Caribbean and the region’s ability to manage its own affairs.
Crime, Barrow stated, is one of the worst social ailments prevalent in the Caribbean. He assures that this year, the member states will implement new forms of dealing with crime, especially focusing on grassroots movements.
Barrow acknowledged the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart’s guidance over the past year and resolved to continue strengthening Caribbean integration under his one year leadership.
Source: http://www.reporter.bz/general/new-caricom-chair-pm-dean-barrow-shares-plan/