CCJ President disappointed over lack of full membership

first_imgCaricom Member StatesNew President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, has said he is disappointed over the non-accession to the court of most Caribbean nations, including Trinidad and Tobago, where the CCJ Headquarters are based.The CCJ was inaugurated in 2005 with two of the ‘Big Four’ (the four members states that signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas to form the Caribbean Community (Caricom)), Barbados and Guyana. They acceded to the court’s appellate jurisdiction in 2005. Belize then joined them in 2010, and Dominica followed in 2015.Since its establishment, the Caribbean Court of Justice has embarked on a mission of trying to convince the signatory member states of the Caribbean Community that the court is a great utility at their disposal. Those member states that have not yet acceded to full membership of the court still send their appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). Most Caribbean states only accede to the CCJ’s original jurisdiction in regard to interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.Attending a private sector interaction session at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown last week, Justice Saunders was asked about his feelings regarding Trinidad not fully acceding to the court’s membership. He replied that the twin-island republic has been good to the court, but the CCJ is nevertheless disappointed about the situation.“We have very good relations with the state of Trinidad and Tobago that allows us to work and function properly in Port-of-Spain; but yes, it is disappointing that Trinidad (do) not yet send their appeals to the CCJ, and that has a multiplying effect; because some of the other countries that are yet to accede, they readily say, ‘Well, why should we, when the state in which the court is housed does not send their appeals [there as well]?’ There is nothing we could do about that, but it is a cause for concern,” he asserted.According to the CCJ President, the court had, in the past, been targeting Government and the bar associations in the region to convince the member states to accede to the CCJ, but this method has failed to produce any results.“I think that our strategy has to change, that we need to find ways of reaching ordinary men and women, boys and girls.Because Governments, when they don’t take a step that they should take, they do that because they are unsure of what the political consequences are likely to be; and if the Government is confident that the political consequences will not be unfavourable, then they will take that step tomorrow. And so we have to see what we can do, and our allies and stakeholders can do, in order to try to create a climate where the Governments of all the countries that have not yet acceded feel comfortable in taking the decision; which we feel is the right one to take,” he stated.To this end, Justice Saunders said the court has now embarked on a number of strategies to connect more with the ordinary people, including being more involved in, and active on, social media.The CCJ President noted that some of the detractors of the court get away with purveying stories which are simply not true. He pointed to a recent instance when he heard a commentator on the radio calling the CCJ a “lazy man’s court” and that “they hardly do any work”.Justice Saunders has dismissed those remarks, saying the facts of the CCJ’s work are in its performance.“Between January and now, for the Commonwealth-Caribbean countries that send their appeals to the Judicial Committee, that court has delivered 11 judgements. And they have the ‘Big Two’ – Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica — sending appeals to them… But in the same length of time, we delivered 22 judgements – double the amount,” the CCJ President asserted.He said the court now has to work on ensuring that citizens in the region do not believe the “garbage” that is being spread, and instead provide citizens of the region with information that helps to dispel those myths.last_img read more