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Nov 24, 2022

C.C.J. Academy of Law Brings Referral Workshop to Belize Judiciary

In January of 2021, The Government of Belize announced that it had sued the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean Court of Justice over an alleged breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. At the end of those proceedings, the C.C.J. dismissed the claims brought by Belize for a lack of evidence. But, the C.C.J.’s adjudication of this matter is one example of the Caribbean’s apex court fulfilling its intended purpose. The C.C.J. is the only court with jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas when allegations pertaining to a breach of treaty obligations arise. And, while that matter was between two states, individual members of any CARICOM state can also bring claims against member states  for breach of treaty obligations. National courts are, however, obligated to refer all questions and issues pertaining to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to the C.C.J.. Today, the Caribbean Court of Justice and the C.C.J. Academy for Law, in collaboration with the Supreme Court of Belize, launched a two days inaugural referral workshop series to provide a greater understanding of these referral obligations. Here is more from the opening ceremony.


Louise Esther Blenman

Louise Esther Blenman, Chief Justice of Belize

“The Judiciary of Belize, the Magistracy, and Tribunals in Belize are important since we are cloth with the responsibility of ensuring that the rights that are conferred by the treaty are properly respected and enforced. Consequently, this training and sensitization program is critical for all of us. In order to facility our deeper understanding of the referral process under article 214 of the RTC. It is expected that at the conclusion of this training we will be better equipped to deal with matters that arises and require reference to the CJC in circumstances where there question of the interpretatio0n or application of the RTC can arise in any of our matters before us. I want to emphasize that there is a duty on judges, magistrates, and tribunals to refer to the CCJ once the question of interpretation of application of treaty arises. We have no discretion.”


Andrew Marshalleck

Andrew Marshalleck, President, Bar Association

“There have been many instances when breach of treat obligations can be alleged and pursued. But, I don’t think people are fully cognizant of it. There have been issues in Belize about the importation of Presidente Beer I can remember, the importation of Pepsi from Jamaica, and licensing and issues at port. There are issues touching and concerning exchange control restrictions which prohibit financial transaction among Caribbean territories. There are a lot of issues that can find its way to the court. And, the idea is if everybody becomes aware of the jurisdiction and how to use it you will see more of these issues coming forward, and with community lobbying being developed you will have more life being breathed into the treaty and intended benefits for members of the community.”


Winston Anderson

Winston Anderson, Judge, C.C.J.

“We have made the point that Belize has used the interstate route of getting to the CCJ. That is the very first time in the history of the CCJ that one state has sued another state, that is to say Belize suing Trinidad and Tobago. But it is also important to realize that ordinary citizens can have access to the court through proceedings in their domestic court. So, whoever there is a case that starts in the domestic court which involves and issues to do with the interpretation of the revised treaty the domestic court is obliged to stay proceedings and refer that question to the CCJ for interpretation. All that happens is the CCJ provides the interpretation and then the local court takes that interpretation and resolves the dispute before it, so that it is collaboration really.”

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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