November 15, 2019

OECS opposition parties urged to reject CCJ

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therold_prudent2From Caribbean News Now

CASTRIES, St Lucia — The recent announcement by the incoming chairman of the Organisation of States (), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, that he intends to make the Caribbean Court of Justice () the ultimate legal body of all member states by the end of his tenure has drawn a reaction from the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent.

In affirming his party’s opposition to joining the CCJ without the express consent of the citizens throughout the OECS territories, Prudent insists that such a move would not only serve to devalue the principles of democracy but could also eventually ensure that both the legal and political systems are controlled by cowards who are distrustful of the independent judgment of their own people.

According to Prudent, in this regard, it would seem unconscionable for any right-thinking person to accept that, after years of hauling political opponents to court and displaying public attitudes which have, at times, seemed disrespectful, intolerant and condescending towards others, Roosevelt Skerrit, Kenny Anthony, Ralph Gonsalves and Denzil Douglas, among others, could be found to be sufficiently credible single-handedly to approve the CCJ as the final appellate body of the OECS.

“To understand the sudden rush to adopt the CCJ as the final appellate court in the next 12 months, one must first understand the school of thought that currently exists among the various labour party governments within the OECS community,” he said.

Prudent explained that, for many years now, it has been the belief of certain Caribbean leaders that the CCJ would be an easier legal entity to control than the Privy Council, which has had a very long history of independence and does not conform to the influences or interferences of any political directorate.

“Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that, by getting rid of the Privy Council (the only legal body which has, for decades, consistently provided effective checks and balances against government overreach and other tyrannical tendencies within the OECS and the wider Caribbean), the current OECS governments would be in a greater position to seal the legal fate of thousands of citizens who, technically, no longer have access to a truly independent court of last resort. The CCJ would, in effect, become the court of such governments, since they — and not the people — were responsible for providing the legitimate means for it to operate within the OECS,” he said.

Prudent suggests that such a move would not only provide the basis for gross political interference within the CCJ but may also even lay the basis for the possible future appointment of partisans, such as Dr Kenny Anthony and even his controversial Dominican-born attorney, Anthony Astaphan.

“There are dark clouds which threaten the continued expansion of democracy within the region, including alterations to the original intent and purpose of the CCJ.

“Therefore, in light of these latest developments, it would be irresponsible of any opposition party within the OECS community to ignore calls for a coordinated strategy to push back against these current regimes’ diabolical plans to secure unfettered power. Whether through civil disobedience or mass public protest, resistance must be mounted,” Prudent concluded.

IMAGE: Leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-OECS-opposition-parties-urged-to-reject-CCJ-22180.html

Related story:

De la Bastide: Changes to CCJ admin structure

dennis byronBy Sheila Rampersad From Trinidad Express

First president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Michael de la Bastide has said up to the time he left the regional court, the system of administration was not in need of repair.

A former T&T chief justice, de la Bastide served as CCJ president from 2004 to 2011. He was succeeded by Sir Dennis Byron.

De la Bastide was commenting on the conflict involving the CCJ’s administrative staff, Byron and the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission () over a proposed restructuring exercise.

The conflict has resulted in dismissals, resignations and disciplinary action against senior administrators as reported in last week’s Sunday Express.

Senior staffers have retained Stuart Young to prepare a legal challenge, while more than 50 per cent of junior staff members have joined the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU).

In an interview at his home last Monday, the prominent jurist said what has been termed “restructuring” of the Court’s administration “appears to have produced some negative results in terms of the loss of staff”.

He added that “up to the time of my retirement, the system of administration was not broken and did not appear to me or to my colleagues on the bench and on the Commission to need fixing. It would appear that a different view now prevails”.

He spoke specifically about the resignation of former CCJ registrar Paula Pierre and the separation of former court executive administrator (CEA) Master Christie-Anne Morris-Alleyne.

Pierre resigned last December citing a “toxic atmosphere” at the CCJ, based on Henry Street, Port of Spain; Morris-Alleyne was sent on eight months’ administrative leave last year after which she opted for a voluntary separation package and signed a non-disclosure agreement.

“Both these ladies were appointed by the RJLSC after a very conscientious exercise involving the interviewing of candidates and assessment of their qualifications,” de la Bastide said.

“They worked with me in the Court for seven years and prior to that they had worked with me for about another seven years when I was chief justice and they were employed by the Judiciary of T&T. I am not prepared to make any comment on what led them to their separation but I do know that their resignations represent the loss of two extremely competent and dedicated professionals who are well respected by their peers in the Caribbean region. It is unfortunate that they have been lost to the Court.”

De la Bastide explained that the original administrative structure of the CCJ was based “most importantly” on the agreements establishing the Court, the US$100 million Trust Fund and the Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund.

“Those instruments gave certain specific powers to the RJLSC; it did not give it a roving permission to supervise and approve all aspects of the Court’s expenditure. Those instruments also did not confer any administrative role on the judges of the Court, other than the President, except in respect of making rules of Court.”

The other basis for the administrative structure of the Court, he said, was the models used by the Judiciary of T&T “for the best part of 20 years” and Caribbean jurisdictions, such as the Eastern Caribbean states and Jamaica.

In those models, he said, the senior administrative officer under the Chief Justice is not the Registrar but is an officer trained and experienced in court management.

That person, he said, may be called Court Executive Administrator (CEA) or some such title.

“That officer is the ‘civil service head’ of the judiciary filling a role not unlike that of a permanent secretary in a ministry,” he added.

Deputy chairman of the RJLSC, Dr Lloyd Barnett, told the Express in an interview that the CEA post has been abolished and those functions absorbed by the Registrar.

IMAGE: Sir Dennis Byron

For more on this story go to: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/De-la-Bastide-Changes-to-CCJ-admin-structure-268823451.html

 

 

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