Time for Caribbean nations to manage their judicial affairs, says CCJ president

The president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron, said regional countries should “complete their independence and sovereignty by claiming the rights to completely manage our judicial affairs.”

Byron made his comments as he addressed regional journalists at “an engagement meeting” in Port of Spain.

The CCJ president said he supported the views of the Trinidad and Tobago calypsonian, “Singing Sandra” who, during the just concluded Carnival celebrations in her homeland, urged Port of Spain to become a full signatory to the court as the oil rich twin island republic celebrates 50 years of political independence.

The CCJ, established in 2001, has both an original jurisdiction to interpret the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and appellate jurisdiction aimed at replacing the London-based Privy Council to which many CARICOM member states belong.

But while most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

According to a report from the Caribbean Media Corporation, CMC, Byron told the forum that he was not supportive of the view that the region is not ready for the CCJ noting that some of the arguments include “excessive delays in the judicial process and that we are yet to meaningfully improve our infrastructure in terms of ...our administrative services.”

“In my view there is something wrong with this logic. Assuming that there is a need to enhance the quality of justice administration.... the CCJ is currently engaged in change in capacity development in a way that the Privy Council never has been and is not likely to be.

“I would think this is a further reason why the CCJ is necessary to improve... and truly develop Caribbean jurisprudence,” he added.

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