|CCJ is final step to independence|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 13:23|
Addressing reporters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago recently, Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Sir Dennis Byron argued that CARICOM countries need to "complete their independence and sovereignty by claiming the rights to completely manage our judicial affairs."
Founded in 2001, the CCJ was designed to replace the London-based Privy Council as the highest court of appeal for CARICOM member states. Most CARICOM member states have signed on to the CCJ as a recognized court of law. But only Barbados, Guyana and Belize have granted appellate jurisdiction power to the CCJ, which allows the CCJ to review and overrule a lower court's decision.
Sir Dennis Byron rejected the arguments made by other member states against joining the CCJ – that the court causes "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...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.
Sir Byron further pointed out the immense progress the CCJ has made already in extending its judicial access to more CARICOM nationals. He quoted statistics showing that from August 2005 to October 2011, the CCJ ruled on 38 appeals and 39 applications.
"In other words there are more cases filed in which the state is not a party than cases in which the state is a party," he said, highlighting that the region's poor now enjoys unprecedented access to the CCJ.