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Jan 16, 2015

CCJ’s Role & Function Still Largely Unknown

Dennis Byron

On February fourteenth, 2001, Belize joined Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago in signing an agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. But only Belize, Barbados and Guyana had adopted the CCJ as the final court of appeal. Now, despite a number of cases from each country, there is overwhelming concern that the public is not fully aware of the role and function of the CCJ.  Notwithstanding the publication and prompt availability of judgments, Justice Byron says that for the most part people are only concerned with matters pertaining to their country, overlooking the scope of the CCJ’s jurisdiction.

 

Sir Dennis Byron, President, Caribbean Court of Justice

“One of the things that has been of concern to me is that where I have gone people have always said we don’t know much about the workings of the court.  It has been a constant complain from the public in our region.  Now we think that we have provided information through our website, through lectures that we give, through articles that have been written about the court, through the publication of the documents have been established in the court.  But people still say, “we don’t know.”  We think, I think that it’s important for a court, for the work of the court to be known by the public.  There is no way that you could have an opinion about our court, I think a court needs to have the public’s confidence and the only way we can achieve that is by letting you know how we function, by providing the information.  It seems that the techniques that we have normally used, because in the traditional thinking the information about the court’s work was usually derived from people reading the judgments of the court.  But people don’t seem to read our judgments.  We have thought about trying to encourage the reading of our judgments by creating what we call a press corner.  So we have law students from university take the judgments that we write and produce a one-page version which we have been disseminating to the press but people haven’t been printing it.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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