CCJ Pres­i­dent Re­turns Home for Cer­e­mo­nial Sit­ting of the CCJ

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ) sat in St Vincent and the Gre­nadines on July 20, 2018 for the first time in its 13-year his­tory. The Cer­e­mo­nial Sit­ting con­cluded the Court’s in­au­gu­ra­tion ac­tiv­i­ties for its re­cently sworn-in Pres­i­dent, the Hon­ourable Mr. Jus­tice Adrian Saun­ders.

Hosted in the House of As­sem­bly, Kingstown the sit­ting was at­tended by var­i­ous mem­bers of lo­cal gov­ern­ment in­clud­ing Dr the Hon­ourable Ralph Gon­salves, Prime Min­is­ter of St Vincent and the Gre­nadines; Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Dr God­win Fri­day; Speaker of the House of As­sem­bly Mr Jomo Thomas and Heads of re­gional ju­di­cia­ries; Court of Ap­peal judges; diplo­mats and numer­ous lo­cal at­tor­neys.

Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, the CCJ Pres­i­dent ex­plained the de­ci­sion to host the Sit­ting in St Vincent and the Gre­nadines. He stated that it re­sulted from a de­sire “to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the peo­ple of St Vincent and the Gre­nadines to see and meet with the Judges of the CCJ. And, nat­u­rally, it gives the Judges, only one of whom is Vin­cen­tian, the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the flavour and nu­ances of the rich di­ver­sity of the Caribbean and SVG in par­tic­u­lar.”

In a stir­ring pre­sen­ta­tion, Dr the Hon­ourable Ralph Gon­salves noted that he never thought he would see “the day that the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice sat in St Vincent and the Gre­nadines”.

De­fend­ing the in­de­pen­dence of the CCJ, he dis­missed the no­tion that the Court is sus­cep­ti­ble to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence, in­sist­ing that those re­spon­si­ble for set­ting up the Court made cer­tain to put in place fea­tures like the CCJ Trust Fund and the Re­gional Ju­di­cial and Le­gal Ser­vices Com­mis­sion (RJLSC) to safe­guard the Court’s in­de­pen­dence.

Pledg­ing to work to make the CCJ the coun­try’s fi­nal court of ap­peal, the prime min­is­ter ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion to work to­gether to “strive for the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble”.

The Hon­ourable Mr. Jus­tice Bryan Sykes, Chief Jus­tice of Ja­maica, ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­creased ef­fi­ciency of the Court in his pre­sen­ta­tion, noted the im­pact of the CCJ in the re­gion, not just be­cause of its ju­di­cial work but also be­cause of its cham­pi­oning for in­creased ac­cess to jus­tice for re­gional cit­i­zens.

He fur­ther stated that he and “all the judges of Ja­maica look for­ward to the con­tin­ued growth and ex­pan­sion of this Court un­der the pres­i­dency of Jus­tice Saun­ders. We pledge un­re­servedly, our sup­port for the Pres­i­dent and the Court and will do all within our power to con­tinue to make the case for this Court to be­come our fi­nal ap­pel­late court.”

Echo­ing the sen­ti­ments of the prime min­is­ter, Ms. Rene Bap­tiste, Pres­i­dent of the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion of St Vincent and the Gre­nadines called for the Eastern Caribbean state to make the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice its fi­nal court of ap­peal as she re­called the distin­guished ca­reer of Mr. Jus­tice Saun­ders.

In his re­sponse, Mr. Jus­tice Saun­ders stated, “I am ex­tremely proud of this Court. We have a fine com­ple­ment of judges. The Court’s judge­ments can with­stand the clos­est scru­tiny. In­deed, our stake­hold­ers con­sis­tently credit the Court with a high qual­ity of rea­son­ing in our judg­ments. Our Court staff are hard­work­ing and ef­fi­cient. The Court has no back­log. Our elec­tronic fil­ing sys­tem is the envy of courts in the western hemp­ishere.”

Judges of the CCJ along with the Chief Jus­tices of Ja­maica and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court dur­ing the Cer­e­mo­nial Sit­ting held in St Vincent & the Gre­nadines in hon­our of the CCJ Pres­i­dent, a cit­i­zen of that na­tion.

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