Discussions continue on CCJ

ccjDiscussions are continuing around the island, as Dominica makes preparations to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appeals court.

Legal Affairs Minister Ian Douglas, who has been at the forefront of these town hall discussions, said the plan is to remove all doubts from citizens’ minds about the CCJ.

“There are various concerns that come up. We have had public forums in Cottage, Castle Bruce and we will move to Grandbay and other parts of the country. A lot of people are raising issues of political interference and money to run the court,” he explained to DNO.

According to Douglas, the CCJ will be insulated from all political interference.

“There are new mechanisms that have never before been used from any courts in the world to insulate the court against governmental interference. It is about time that we make this move. It is only fitting that we continue that independence process,” he stated.

Douglas said Belize, Guyana and Barbados have already abolished appeals to the Privy Council and “that is what Dominica is trying to do”.

In May prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit said Dominica will send a letter to the British government seeking permission to recognize the CCJ, replacing the London-based Privy Council.

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6 Comments

  1. Pondera
    August 13, 2013

    My honest opinion is that in the Caribbean we act as if we do not know what we want. This process is dragging just too much. There is no reason for our countries to be returning to England for legal judgement. What’s the point. Our judges and lawyers are just as qualified and in many instances better qualified. Are our Judges inferior to their British counterparts? Away with the Privy Council. Lets embrace what is indigenous to us. I am proud of the institution of the CCJ. No system is perfect. Every institution will evolve. And so will the CCJ. I am confident of the CCJ’s capacity to serve us well. Mr Minister you have my full endorsement to proceed. And proceed we must.

  2. Dominiquen
    August 12, 2013

    When are the other States going to remove the British Queen as their Head of State? :mrgreen:

  3. Lone Ranger
    August 12, 2013

    Why does our government not just trust the people to decide their fate relative to the CCJ with a simple referendum, as one other country in the OECS did?

    “Consultation” is no substitute for an expression of preference, which is what a referendum would be all about.

    What are they afraid of? Afraid that the people would reject the CCJ? So they have opted to ram it down our throats?

    The judiciary as we now know it facilitates an old boy network, where a lawyer who represents a judge in her divorce often has a favorable ruling in a case before that same judge sitting on the appeals court. Where is the confidence that justice was served honestly and without fear or favor?

    We are not yet ready to go down the road of the CCJ. Too many conflicts and too little avenue to resolve them.

  4. Rereree
    August 12, 2013

    “The CCJ will be insulated from political interference”. What a sad and cruel joke.

    The recent behavior of judges in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals expose the fallacy of this ridiculous statement. The fact remains judges in the OECS have an inherent bias in favor of government. One has only to examine the record of those judges in the much abused Judicial Review. The judicial review process is a glaring example where judges abuse the review process to give the government side an unfair advantage.

    How many days has it been since the review process in the matter of the attempted arrest of a lawyer accused of theft? This and other notable examples of the partiality or incompetence of the judiciary in the Eastern Caribbean do not encourage a great deal of confidence that there is a level judicial playing field that would enable the population to feel comfortable with CCJ as the final court of appeal.

    But more broadly, there is a palpable sense of fear that our democracy has not evolved sufficiently to the point where the idea of separation between the judiciary and the executive branches of government is clear enough to trust the move to the supremacy of the CCJ.

    Countries such as the United States and most of Western Europe have traveled sufficiently along their journey to democracy to respect the boundary between judges and elected officials. The truth is, we have not, and there is still an attitude of deference to the government side and against those seeking redress from government overreach.

    Democracy is not an instant product. It evolves over time. And to move right now to the CCJ would be hastening the process of democratic evolution. This is dangerous and perhaps even ominous for our democratic freedoms.

  5. 4u2c
    August 12, 2013

    CCJ has yet to show political maturity and as a result I say NO to CCJ. CCJ is full of political influence and Tony Astaphan has proven that. Some CCJ judges has tried to stay clear of political bias and rule on the basis of the Law and that has cost them their jobs. Our politicians using tax payers cash has twisted those judges arms and let them rule where the $$$$ flows. Give me the white man that does not care who I am and who the money folks are. Base the incident on the LAW and judge from their..much better chance of justice.

    Apart from moving to CANADA, USA, England for greener pastures, why don’t you think that Caribbean folks do not return to their homeland? Despite of their circumstances they prefer justice in those countries. We do NOT move to Africa for the same fear. CCJ is no different and they have displayed that in Skerrit and St.Jean foreign Passport case; GIVE ME THE ENGLISH MAN!! NO CCJ, we NOT READY YET!!

    • Felis Ailuron
      August 13, 2013

      All of these comments reference the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which is not the CCJ. The CCJ is an international tribunal, not the ECSC. These comments reveal ignorance about the CCJ more than anything else.

      For example, “Rereree” says: “The fact remains judges in the OECS have an inherent bias in favor of government. One has only to examine the record of those judges in the much abused Judicial Review. The judicial review process is a glaring example where judges abuse the review process to give the government side an unfair advantage.”

      This has nothing whatsoever to do with the CCJ, which is an institution completely removed from the OECS. How many complaints of the nature described here have been made by litigants in Belize, Barbados and Guyana, who have all been under the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, for nearly 8 years in the case of Barbados and Guyana? If you want to prove a case against the CCJ, then bring evidence showing that the CCJ has done this or that wrong. You can’t condemn the CCJ by criticising the ECSC! The two have nothing to do with each other. Besides, the CCJ has ruled against the Governments of Barbados and Guyana on many occasions since 2005. Where therefore is the EVIDENCE of CCJ bias in favour of government??

      Similarly, 4u2c says, “CCJ is full of political influence and Tony Astaphan has proven that. Some CCJ judges has tried to stay clear of political bias and rule on the basis of the Law and that has cost them their jobs.” This is complete and utter nonsense and mischief-making. Since the inauguration of the CCJ, only TWO judges have left the Bench, and both had reached the compulsory retirement age of 72. The above accusation is therefore completely false and malicious, since it has no basis whatsoever in fact or truth.

      4u2c also writes that “Our politicians using tax payers cash has twisted those judges arms and let them rule where the $$$$ flows.” This is a total and utter lie, since the judges of the CCJ (the whole staff, in fact) is paid by interest from a Trust Fund of US$100 million deposited with the Caribbean Development Bank and administered by an independent Board of Trustees. Politicians and Governments have NO ACCESS WHATSOEVER to this money. The CCJ is the ONLY COURT IN THE WORLD funded in this way. All members of the the court’s staff are this protected from any political interference through withholding of funds. 4u2c doesn’t have a clue what he or she is talking about.

      Rereree talks about “notable examples of the partiality or incompetence of the judiciary in the Eastern Caribbean”. What does this have to do with the CCJ, whose Bench of 7 comprises only TWO judges from the Eastern Caribbean, and includes a British judge and a Dutch judge??! How is the ESSC going to influence these European judges?

      My question is simply this: if the CCJ is this terrible monster that these writers claim it to (quoting NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER), how come the people of Barbados, Belize and Guyana who have renounced the Privy Council, have no complaints to make? What happen, they dumb? deaf? blind? stupid? Or is it that these complaints are purely proof of bias and prejudice on the writers’ part? I challenge Rereree, 4u2c and the Lone Ranger to PROVE their accusations by talking about the CCJ – not the ECSC, which is NOT the CCJ.

      After all, if you want to prove your case, you must bring evidence against the ACCUSED, not against his neighbour.

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