Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Mr Edwin Carrington, has wrapped up a one-week tour of Jamaica where he spoke to wide ranging audiences on a range of issues related to the Caribbean Court of Justice. The week of public education activities on the Court ran from 24-30 April 2001.
Mr. Carrington emphasised that the Court is important in the Region's overall integration structure and, in drafting the Instruments establishing the Court, every effort was made to ensure that the concerns of the citizens of the Region, including specific stakeholders such a the private Bar and Civil Society, were addressed.
In a series of symposia and media interactions, the Secretary-General and his team, which included the CARICOM Secretariat's Legal Consultant, Mr. Duke Pollard, stressed that the CCJ, in its Original Jurisdiction, is imperative for the effective operation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). In its Appellate Jurisdiction, the Court will be the final Court of Appeal on civil and criminal matters.
“The Court is absolutely necessary for the effective and efficient functioning of the Single Market and Economy,” said Mr. Carrington.
The Secretary-General stated that the Region had moved to address the many concerns that were raised by stakeholders, which include the issue of ensuring the independence of the Judiciary. Mr Carrington stressed that this is secure in that the Region's politicians will not have any involvement in the selection of the judges.
Mr. Pollard explained that a Regional Judicial Services Commission would appoint the Judges who will sit on the Court. The Commission will comprise of nine members, many of whom will be selected by institutions of Civil Society and independent of governments. He added that the Judges would be drawn from the Caribbean as well as from member countries of the Commonwealth.
He added that the Judges could only be dismissed by the Commission acting on the advice of the tribunal established for that purpose. He said this procedure for selection and removal of Judges sitting with the CCJ was conceived in order to insulate them from political manipulation.
The Attorney General of Jamaica Senator, Hon Arnold J Nicholson, who joined the CARICOM Secretary-General and his team for the public education activities in Jamaica noted that the CCJ is a Court for the people, and every effort was made to ensure that this is reflected in the Instruments Establishing the Court.
He thanked the Secretary-General for his commitment to the Court and for being in Jamaica for the week long series of activities to inform and educate people about and dialogue with them on the Court.
The public education activities in Jamaica are intended to kick off a sustained regional programme of public education on the Court. This initiative was mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government at their most recent Meeting in Barbados in February 2001 where they signed the agreement establishing the Court.