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The people of St. Kitts and Nevis recently had another opportunity to learn more about the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by way of a series of regional educational activities, led by a team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

The team, led by Sheldon McDonald, CCJ Project Co-ordinator for the establishment of the CCJ, began its educational activities, organised by the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-ordinating Committee for the CCJ with a live radio and television discussion on the broadcast network ZIZ Radio and Television.

The discussion, moderated by His Excellency Professor Simon Jones-Hendrickson, was addressed by Mr McDonald, Mr. Nareshwar Harnanan, State Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General, Guyana; and the Honourable Delano F. Bart, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, St Kitts and Nevis. They outlined the rationale for the establishment of the Court and its operations, in its original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and in its appellate jurisdiction where it will consider and determine appeals in civil and criminal matters from municipal courts.

Following the broadcast, activities continued in Nevis where the CARICOM team accompanied by Wayde Bardswell, Crown Counsel; and Jacqueline Somersall-Berry, Court Administrator in the St Kitts and Nevis High Court, and members of the National Co-ordinating Committee, met with members of the St Kitts and Nevis Bar in Nevis to address the establishment of the Court and issues surrounding it from a legal perspective. This was followed by a live interview on Voice of Nevis (VON) Radio.

The team also comprising Rose Blenman, Communications Officer, CARICOM Secretariat; Ms Bridget Lewis, Executive Assistant to Mr McDonald; Ms Desiree Field-Ridley, Adviser, CARICOM Single Market and economy (CSME) and Heather Barker from the Communications Consulting Firm Saunders-Franklin INC met with the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-ordinating Committee, headed by Ms Astona Browne, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

The team concluded its activities in St. Kitts and Nevis with a spirited session with members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar on St. Kitts. The CARICOM team’s next stop in the regional public education drive on the CCJ and CSME is Haiti later this month.

The CARICOM Secretariat which is charged with undertaking Public Education to raise awareness and support for the CCJ and CSME has implemented a region-wide programme encompassing Public Service Announcements (PSAs); a logo, slogan and jingle; TV and radio promos, publications and stakeholders’ meetings.

With regards to the effectiveness of Public Education, there has been an increase in public support for the CCJ. An Acceptance and Awareness Study conducted in several Member States in November 2002 indicates that public support rose from 64% in 2000 to 80% in 2002. Furthermore the study shows that stakeholders as well as members of the general public were aware of benefits of the CCJ.

In relation to the latest development surrounding the Court’s establishment, it is anticipated that the inauguration of the Court will take place in the latter half of 2003 and in this regard the creation of a task force, to plan the inauguration, has been approved. The setting-up of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, which will appoint judges to the CCJ is another major development to come on stream soon.

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